Rachel Atwood’s ‘Walk the Wild With Me’ Is a Journey Through Time and Legend

Atwood's introduces an element of religion into an old legend.

Walk the Wild With Me Book Cover Walk the Wild With Me
Rachel Atwood
December 3, 2019

Orphaned when still a toddler, Nicholas Withybeck knows no other home than Locksley Abbey outside Nottingham, England. He works in the Scriptorium embellishing illuminated manuscripts with hidden faces of the Wild Folk and whimsical creatures that he sees every time he ventures into the woods and fields. His curiosity leads him into forbidden nooks and crannies inside, and outside the abbey. He becomes adept at hiding to stay out of trouble.

On one of these forays he slips into the crypt beneath the abbey. There he finds an altar older than the abbey’s foundations, ancient when the Romans occupied England. Behind the bricks around the altar, he finds a palm-sized silver cup. The cup is embellished with the three figures of Elena, the Celtic goddess of crossroads, sorcery, and cemeteries.

He carries the cup with him always. The goddess whispers wisdom in the back of his mind. With Elena in his pocket, Nick can see that the masked dancers on the May Day celebration in the local village are the actual creatures of the wood, The Green Man, Robin Goodfellow, Herne the Huntsman, dryads, trolls, and water sprites, the imaginary faces he’s seen and drawn into the Illuminations.

Over the course of several adventures where Elena guides Nick and keeps him safe, he learns that Little John’s (the Green Man) love has been kidnapped by Queen Mab of the Faeries. The door to the Faery mound will only open when the moons of the two realms align. The time is fast approaching. Nick must release Elena so that she can use sorcery to unlock that door and Nick’s band of friends can try to rescue the girl. Will he have the courage to release her as his predecessor did not?

A fantastical take featuring legendary heroes, Celtic folklore, religious history, and love. A story that finds the intersection of religion and fantasy, Rachel Atwood’s Walk the Wild With Me tells the story of a boy with a mysterious past who is thrust into an important role in a battle between Fae and Wild Folk. Nick must decide where his loyalties lie, with the Church or with a new and unlikely family, to help rescue a mortal woman trapped by the treacherous Queen Mab. Atwood does a commendable job of using all of these elements that, for some, have long been thought of as opposites, religion versus fairytale and Catholicism versus paganism, and used them to work together. Through Nick’s journey, we see that people possess a capacity for duality: a man of God can have a heart filled with magic; a magical creature can understand its own mortality, despite what legend tells, as well as the relevance and importance of God.

Unfortunately, more questions were left by the end of the book than answers. 290 pages were spent building this complicated and interwoven world, with a very abrupt conclusion that left the fates of most of the characters a huge question mark. This could be a set up for sequels and spin-offs, as it did leave the reader wanting, but these loose ends were more frustrating than enticing.

Atwood has put together a world of fact and fiction, legend and history, lore and real life, that manages to complement itself without contradiction. Despite its fantastical nature, it is a true exploration of human desire. The constant wanting of something—for love, acceptance, revenge, redemption—is all present in this journey between worlds.

Rachel Gonzalez
the authorRachel Gonzalez
Contributing Editor
Rachel is a writer from Arizona who recently finished her BA at Northern Arizona University. Her four years in a mountain town got her a degree in English coupled with certificates in creative writing and literature and minors in journalism and anthropology. Her passions outside of reading and writing include RuPaul’s Drag Race, film and fitness. She loves YA fiction and comedy and hopes to turn those two loves into a novel in the near future. Favorite books: Looking for Alaska by John Green—actually, everything by John Green, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini