Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea by Pari Thomson

Reviewed by E.B. Heath

Although an elaborate fantasy for children, Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea, carries significance – a warning.  One that in times of yore was communicated via an Aesop’s Fable – The Goose and The Golden Egg.  A story of stupidity and greed.  Apparently, that message has been long forgotten because, well, here we are, killing so much more than a goose that lays a golden egg.

Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea is the much anticipated second fantasy novel in Pari Thomson’s Greenwild trilogy.  In the first book, Greenwild: The World Behind the Door, Daisy Thistledown and her journalist mother travel the globe reporting on new stories, but when her mother has to travel to the Amazon rainforest to report on mysterious disappearances, it is considered too dangerous for Daisy and she is sent to boarding school.  Then Daisy is told her mother is missing, she runs away to Kew Gardens where they spent happy times together.  Here she discovers a portal into an extraordinary world of Botanists using green magic; Daisy becomes their student learning about her own green magic powers.  She discovers it is not just her mother who is missing, many biologists are disappearing at the hands of the Grim Reapers.  Daisy determines to go the Amazon to save her mother.

The first chapter of Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea, Daisy is not so patiently waiting for the expedition to the Amazon to begin on, what can only be described as the most amazing ship ever imagined.  Daisy’s friends, The Prof, Indigo and Acorn (the Five O’clock Club) are keen to join her on this rescue mission.  A message from Daisy’s mother urges her to find the mysterious kingdom of Iffenwild and plead for Iffenwild warriors to join the expedition to help defeat the Grim Reapers. However, Daisy has to overcome a major problem – Iffenwild, another magical world is assumed to be a myth, so no-one knows where it is located.  As the adventure unfolds the children are joined by Max Brightly, whose mother has also been kidnapped by the Grim Reapers.  Best not to give too much away, suffice to say the plot cracks along in twists and turns, the magic becoming more imaginative by the page, as are the many characters, not least being the Nautilus traveling theatre guild. Thomson’s description really takes the reader into this magical world, as does Elisa Paganelli’s illustrations.  But for all the fast-paced action, Thomson does not neglect to describe what the children are eating. Throughout the novel a smorgasbord of delicious food acts to anchor this fantasy world into real world desires to eat scrumptious food.  The chocolate and ginger cake was really tempting.

This trilogy has been criticised as derivative of Rowling’s Harry Potter, whereas there are similarities, the differences are stark.  Thompson is keen to educate her readers, albeit by stealth.  She has the Nautilus players perform Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, which shrewdly parallels the plot in some small way.  And locates Iffenwild in a pocket of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. The bad guys, the Grim Reapers, are easily linked to the contemporary world, paralleling people who want vast amounts of wealth at the expense of the very thing we need to survive – our environment.

The whole world is under attack from human greed and negligence, Daisy. The oceans have suffered greatly, even though the damage there is often easier to overlook than on land.

Thompson is a champion of the environment including its wildlife.  She advocates for protection, not exploitation, of the natural world.  Her goal is to induce wonder.  She describes the phenomenon of bioluminescence, or “living light”, the Prof saying:

Magic, science.  Sometimes the two aren’t as different as we think.

Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea is a wild, entertaining ride, transported via the imagination of Pari Thomson.


Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea

by Pari Thomson


Pan Macmillan Australia


ISBN: 978 103502 118 5

$18.99; 403pp

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