Cover of Wonderbook, which features the title surrounded by a steampunk aesthetic over a city on the back of a whale-like creature floating in an ocean

Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer and illustrated by Jeremy Zerfoss – A Review

I’d originally seen this book on a table at a writer’s conference. It caught my eye because it’s larger than most of the books in the writing genre. It also lacks the simplistic cover that many in the section have. (Have you ever flipped through the covers of writing books? Lots of pens and books and abstract images.)

And then, on the inside, instead of walls of text and sidebars, it was full page gorgeous illustrations. Have you ever read Clive Barker’s Abarat? That’s what many of the images reminded me of in style and feel.

I feel like the book trailer really captures the pictures best if you’re not familiar with the Abarat books. It’s fantastic for visual learners. I also feel like you can get a lot of writing inspiration just by flipping through the book and writing about the images.

The book (and website!) feel more like it’s set up to be a self-driven workshop rather than a writing advice book. This also sets it apart from many of the other books on the shelf.

Okay now for the meat of the matter: the writing advice.

The book covers a little bit of everything, focused on fantasy and sci fi. (There’s a whole chapter dedicated to worldbuilding.)

While the introduction indicates it’s meant to be read from front to back, it can be picked up from wherever.

I think it’s a great supplement for other writing guides, helping you apply the techniques and strategies to fantasy and sci fi stories.

It’s a good book, and I’d definitely buy it again. While the full color interior does make it more expensive than other books in the genre, the website is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, so you can take advantage of some of the benefits without the price tag.

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