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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on June 5, 2004
The plot reads like a mix between The Neverending Story and a Barker-like rendition of Winnie The Pooh. Although this particular brand of tale has been told a jillion times, golden does add his, albeit unusual, touch to it. With a comic book feel to it, Golden often strays from the plot and delves a little too close for comfort into the often distracted parents. The pace in the book is rambunctious and disorderly. The introduction is painfully slow to only pick up speed just after the beginning of chapter four. Afterwards the pace maintains a rapid flow only to fizzle out at the climax.

The atmosphere is constantly changing and morphing into another mood entirely. It would have even worked if the transitioning had been a little smoother and a lot less obvious. The style of writing is Golden's most endearing and lasting talent. The man can weave a sentence with untouchable finesse. He writes as if he were talking directly to you without presumption or arrogance.

Okay now here is where Golden completely lost me, the characters. The parents come off as self-involved adults who spend more time in their own heads and less focusing on their immediate concern- their son. The characters in Strangeland reminded me so much of Cap'n Crunch, Puff the Magic Dragon and Beauty and The Beast that I spent half the time laughing. The only authentic player in the story was the boy. Although Golden does seem to have trouble writing adults, he can put on the skin of a child with skillful ease.

My rating? I give it a 2 . Next time you're at the library, pick this book up. If nothing else, you'll get a kick out of re-visiting old childhood pals.
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on February 6, 2002
I have to agree with the review posted by "sarahphin". While the episodes that take place in the world of Strangewood itself are wonderful, I truly DESPISED the characters of Emily and Thomas, so much so that I found myself skimming over those parts of the book, only reading the minimum amount I needed to keep up with the story. Their constant "agonizing" over their son's plight, the "guilt" over the divorce, the ridiculous romance between Emily and her unrealistically understanding sex slave professor, etc. was WAY overdone. It almost completely ruined what could have been a pleasurable reading experience.
Mr. Golden has great promise, but needs to learn one of the finer points of writing a good book - SHOW, don't TELL (most of us can safely assume that parents love their children; we do not need to have it hammered into our heads like that. It was almost as if the characters were trying to convince THEMSELVES) (hint: read Graham Joyce, a master of "less is more" storytelling).
I will continue to look for Mr. Golden's work in the future, and hope to see him evolve as a writer. I think he has great potential.
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on November 11, 2000
This book is one of those books that must be read to be explained, it's that good. Part Horror, part Dark Fantasy Strangewood is the story of a writer's creation come to disturbing, very real life. When Thomas Randall's son falls prey to an inexplicable coma he finds that his son has been taken (well, in spirit, I guess) to the "fictional" world of Strangewood. A world that is supposed to be a figment of Thomas Randall's imagination. But Strangewood is real. Strangewood is at war. Strangewood is dying. And only Randall can save this world from collapse. Only Randall can save his son from a fate worse than death.
The idea of a writer having to face the very reality of his/her creation has been done before, but in Strangewood the story is so expertly crafted, the characters so startling in their vibrancy that you forget the idea that the plot has been done before. Because in this case it hasn't. The world of Strangewood (and its inhabitants) would itself make a very entertaining fantasy series (and in case you haven't heard of Harry Potter there is a market for this). Christopher Golden's talent is excruciatingly apparent in this novel and while I read this I kept thinking to myself "man, this is a fun read" which it was. Probably one of the most memorable and enjoyable reads of 1999 and a book I can't recommend enough. For fans of Horror or Dark Fantasy this is a book for you!
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on October 22, 1999
Golden has surpassed himself with "Strangewood". It is an all-too-realistic tale of human drama, perfectly mixed with a fantasy plot that speaks of incredible yet conceivable imagination. It has the most innovative plot that I've ever read, beautifully, naturally and flowingly written by a great author. If you've read "The Shadow Saga", and thought that was good, you'd fall to your knees before Golden when you read "Strangewood". The decision to focus more on character than on plot was a great one. With "The Shadow Saga", you're intrigued by the way of life of the shadows, but you never can put yourself in their shoes. Here, you find yourself feeling for the Randalls, and even the Strangewood characters, sympathising them, empathising with them, knowing how they feel... Golden has outdone himself this time, and I eagerly await his next novel, "Straight On Til Morning", especially since it is to be written in the same style that "Strangewood" was written in.
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The serious battle of good vs. evil has never been so much fun. In this book, some very real humans interact with some very twisted storybook characters. The result pleasantly recalls childhood memories, and slyly releases thoughts of what might have been. The tale includes some personal truths that are thought-provoking without being too "preachy."
The author has an expert handling of genre blending that makes the reader appreciate the real talent on display here. Elements of fantasy, horror, and good old-fashioned human drama all contribute to some pretty impressive suspense. The page-turning plot cleverly built to a logical conclusion, but still left enough room for guesswork. All of characters created for the land of Strangewood are lovable in their own way. You'll become attached to all of them just as easily as you'll relate to the central family whose emotional drama constitute the story's backbone.
Simply put, Strangewood is a grand tale that is a great pleasure to read. It is escapist fiction at its best.
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on September 20, 2000
It took me a while to get into this book about a child's fantasy land gone bad, and I never did develop much fondness for the real life characters. Thomas Randall's 'divorced father angst' was reiterated until it got tiresome, and Emily's sexual neediness seemed over-emphasized and out of place, which had the effect of making her mind-numbingly boring. The fantasy land characters were far more interesting and better delineated. Some of the conflict at times became comic book-like, which may please you or not, depending on whether you like your action fast and snappy or descriptive and complex. The plot is imaginative and the story does eventually redeem itself and overcomes some of the weak points. Given the poor quality of the horror genre at the moment, this is one of the better books of its type that I've read recently, and it's nice to see an author trying for creativity rather than another 'formula' story.
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on November 16, 1999
I would nitpick and say this book was more dark fantasy than horror. However, a visit to the world of Strangewood is fascinating and worth the time spent reading it.
The characters of Strangewood are well drawn and quickly became more vivid to me than the "real life" characters. I found the romance in the book (Joe and Emily) to be jarring, less interesting and eventually tiresome. Perhaps I just hated spending time on the romance when I was so fascinated with what was happening in Strangewood. I also enjoyed discovering the relationships between the Strangewood residents and the "real life" folks who were able to visit them. The characters in the story struggled against things they could not control and against their own weaknesses while in a world of suprises and mysteries.
The story is engrossing and Golden is a writer I will look forward to further books from.
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on August 8, 2000
I figure I'll just copy basically what I posted to Chris about his fabulous book (edited for nonsensicalness):
OK, so I just finished reading Strangewood. Can I just say that it rocked? And so twisted and evil.
Some books have compelling plots but marginal prose, and other books have wonderful prose but lackluster plots...but this much the compelling plot that I walked around the house reading it as to not put it down. And prose that I need to go back and re-read now that I'm not racing through it to see what happens next.
Many books disappoint me in their ending. Sometimes really great books don't have an ending that lives up to the earlier parts. But Strangewood's ending remains true to the rest of the book and not only did not disappoint, but exceeded expectations.
I'm encouraging everyone I know to read this book.
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on March 2, 2000
I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book quite so much, mainly because of the original nature of the story. It's just plain fun. Much like the author's vampire books-- Saints and Shadows etc-- excellent work. Nitpicking-- I could do without the distracting and irrelevant "love" story between the ex and the prof. Found it damned depressing actually , and it prevented me from caring much about the ex-wife character. Also, I thought there was a pretty big hole in the set-up: The protagonist knows that Strangewood is "real", used to "go" there as a boy, and then he somehow forgot about this? Even after he starts "hallucinating" he fails to recall that this stuff was real? How, exactly, does something like this slip your mind? Something's not quite right there, but nonetheless the book is great fun.
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on October 7, 1999
In _Strangewood_, Christopher Golden addresses (among other things) the relationship between imagination and reality and how the two mutually feed off of one another. In this novel you will find characters (both 'real' and imagined) that are well thought out and very developed as well as a plot that will keep ou turning pages furiously to find out what happens next. If you ever wondered what happened to the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood after Christopher Robin grew up, then you definitely want to read this book...... if you think you can stand hearing the answer that Golden provides. _Highly_ recommended!!
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