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Book Review: Mythago Wood

Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

This is a wonderful powerful fantasy tale. In 1940’s England Steven Huxley returns home after World War II to find that his distant, unloved father has died and that his brother Christian has become obsessed with the wood behind their house.

From the outside Ryhope Wood looks like a three mile piece of woodland in rural England. But on the inside it is a huge, primeval, labyrinth of ancient wild woodland and pagan tribes.

Steven learns that his father was obsessed with the woodland and that this obsession killed him. Now the same obsession has entranced Christian and he is venturing further and further into the realm where mythic archetypes become flesh and blood by the power of thought alone. One day Christian vanishes into the wood and does not emerge. So Steven vows to find him.

This is a wonderful tale of myths and their origins, of two brothers who explore very different paths and of how the mythic past tears apart the insularity of a very English family. Ryhope Wood is a fascinating place that reshapes itself through contact with the human imagination and the mythago inhabitants that wander it are altered by the minds they came from.

A repressed, brittle family come fact to face with the raw, sensual myths of Ryhope and are remade. This is an inexorable powerful story and it makes one long to wander Ryhope and experience its moss, mud, rot and wonder for oneself.
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