If you go down to the woods today...

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am

The three Eden sisters live in an ancient, decaying mansion on the edge of the woods with their eccentric mother and father. They might just as well live alone because their parents more or less ignore them.

Mr and Mrs Eden aren't exactly bad parents, but they aren't good either. They simply can't be bothered to look after their offspring because they have more important things to do.

The brave and dashing Captain Reggie Eden rescued the beautiful Zella from imprisonment in a tower and fell in love. When she became Mrs Eden, the enchanting Zella adopted a life of lazy luxury, lying around the house pampering herself and looking interesting and beautiful.

Mr and Mrs Eden are totally wrapped up in each other, and their children are an inconvenience who have to be tolerated but kept well out of the way.

Aurora, the eldest sister, is very domestic, so she looks after the house while her mother and father do what they have to do.

Storm, the rebellious one, makes fireworks and looks for adventure.

When a third baby girl arrives on the scene, Mrs Eden announces indifferently, 'Oh, call her anything!', so Anything becomes her name. The family is now complete.

Into The Woods gets its inspiration from traditional fairytales and adds new adventures and new characters to become an original novel full of imagination, deadly deeds and edge-of-the-seat thrills.

When Mrs Eden dies and their father vanishes into thin air, the three girls fend for themselves as usual at Eden End, their broken-down house. But then the dastardly Dr DeWilde materialises.

This scar-faced gentleman with a colourful waistcoat and an unnatural interest in wolves and rats appears out of nowhere to threaten Aurora, Storm and Anything. He wants to get his hands on an insignificant musical pipe that Storm was given when she was a child.

But there is more to Dr DeWilde than his desire to steal the pipe, and soon Storm and her sisters have no choice but to escape into the woods and run for their lives.

Once it gets going, Into The Woods is a whirlwind of a novel with its heroines escaping kidnap, battling across raging rivers, struggling over icy mountains and getting lost in spooky ghost towns.

They meet a vicious child-eating ogress and the hideous Bee Bumble, who runs a gingerbread orphanage where small children are fattened up and then mysteriously disappear. With hungry wolves snapping at their heels, the three Eden sisters have to keep all their wits about them if they want to survive the dark and dangerous woods.

Lyn Gardner certainly gives readers good value for money in this magically told and inventive story. Into The Woods is driven along to a thrilling climax by an energetic plot and interesting characters.

It's all very good fun with one or two genuine shivers along the way. Don't go 'into the woods' unless you are prepared to be spooked by what you find there.

Into The Woods

By Lyn Gardner

Published by David Fickling Books

ISBN 0 385 61035 1

John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com