#WritersReview: Where the World Turns Wild

Where the World turns Wild

written by Nicola Penfold

cover & inside art by Kate Forrester with Sara Mognol

published by Stripes 2020

352 pages in paperback

travel from walled city to wilderness along a trail of wonder and peril



Animals, trees, flowers, our city forbids them all…

Juniper Greene lives in a walled city from which nature has been banished, following the outbreak of a deadly man-made disease many years earlier. While most people seem content to live in such a cage, she and her little brother Bear have always known about their resistance to the disease, and dream of escaping into the wild. To the one place humans have survived outside of cities. To where their mother is.

When scientists discover that the siblings provide the key to fighting the disease, the pair must flee for their lives. As they journey into the unknown, they soon learn that there’s cruelty in nature as well as beauty. Will they ever find the home they’re searching for?

From A reader’s point of view

It would be easy to get preachy with a book about the eco-catastrophe we are all facing. I am delighted to say Nicola Penfold avoids any worthiness by taking us along with two engaging children on an adventure full of wonder and danger in Where the World turns Wild. We care about Juniper and Bear; we prepare to escape Portia Steel’s authoritarian city beside them; we journey with them further north to find their parents – and we brave all sorts of peril at their side.

And it’s not all desperation and fleeing (although that is so exciting). There are moments of loveliness to remind the reader what we truly care about – special moments with families and friends, and in the natural world. The beautiful cover by Kate Forrester gives you lovely hints of how Juniper and Bear encounter the best of the wilderness.

I would recommend Where the World turns Wild for readers who loved the outdoorsiness of  Abi Elphinstone’s Dreamsnatcher Trilogy,  who relish Piers Torday and Gill Lewis’s work, and are not too squeamish. Sentimental and cosy does not describe this story. It’s not difficult to read in terms of style, but there are big, chunky ideas to deal with – and some loss.

I do hope this is not the only tale featuring Juniper and Bear from Nicola Penfold: I feel they have so many more stories ahead of them.

Comments from a Writer and Editor’s perspective (spoilers possible)

  • quick, clever intro to this unsettling future world through Juniper’s own words
  • beautiful decorative touches clear even in the NetGalley version on my Kindle
  • focus on the journey that Juniper and her six year old brother Bear make to find their missing parents allows naturally for explanations
  • sticking to a few believable characters enables us to know them well – so we want to know what happens next
  • short, exciting chapters – fast moving, not intimidating, tempting you to read on and on and on . . .
  • contrast of incarcerated existence in the city with desperate need to survive in the wilderness is well done – no sugar-coating here
  • two part structure amplifies the comparison – neat touches where the children are puzzled, entranced or shocked by natural features we might think commonplace
  • the set-up of this near-future world and the dreadful Portia Steel are too good to limit to one story – feels like the start of a sequence
  • clever, timely follow-up from publicist to NetGalley readers like me – which worked as you can see!