Combining the pastoral relationships of Winnie the Pooh, the quest fantasy of The Wizard of Oz, the action of The Hobbit, and the self-conscious awareness of its fictional elements of Stranger than Fiction, Bill Willingham’s first young adult novel is a fantasy tour-de-force.
Down the Mysterly River features Max the Wolf, a Boy Scout that awakens to find himself lost in an analogue of the Pacific Northwest full of talking animals, fearsome Blue Cutters, and strange creation magics. Max, an amateur detective, is determined to root out the source of the strange world in which he finds himself. Accompanied by the warrior badger Banderbrock, the monstrous (in looks and charm) cat McTavish, and the happy-go-lucky ex-sheriff black bear Walden, Max embarks on a quest to find the Wizard Swift’s sanctuary. Along the way, he must fight to survive the pursuit of the evil Blue Cutters, who remake heroes into a prosaic image, the odd deliverer of worlds The Eggman, a raging river, and Max’s own desire to solve the mystery.