Review : Wildthorn
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Pages : 355
Genre : YA, Historical Fiction, GLBT
My Rating :
What it’s about, in my Words :
As a child in Victorian England, Louisa has always had a mind of her own. Passionate about science, she dreamed of following her father’s footsteps and becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, not everyone around her think science is a place for women…
At first, Louisa thinks it is all a mistake : she was supposed to make her way to the Woodvilles’ home, but instead she ended up in Wildthorn, an asylum. There people call her by an other name and insist on her fragile state of mind. Soon though, Louisa realizes her forced stay at the asylum might not be a mistake : maybe someone wanted to get rid of her. Trying to escape, Louisa must look through her past to assemble the puzzle that will tell her who, and what, got her there.
I loved that book! Even though I was really lucky to get a free copy via netgalley, I still added it to my wishlist as I would love to add a copy on my real shelves!
From the start, there were so many aspects of this novel that were right up my alley : the Victorian period, the England setting, a strong female character with a mind of her own, the mysterious and horrific asylum… I’ve had a bunch of “good” reading lately, but nothing “great”, and Wildthorn turned out to be exactly what I needed! I was captivated from the first page and I could barely let it go before the end.
I found the pace of Wildthorn to be smooth and quiet, something that really balanced the darkest moments of Louisa’s story. Eagland breaks the monotony of the asylum life by alternating between past and present for the first part of the novel, which gave us some insight on Louisa and the people she cared about. From then, we can make a few hypothesis about why she was put there and by who, although there is more to the story than this single mystery.
I loved Louisa as a whole because she wasn’t one-dimensional : she was more than just a teen, just a lesbian, just a wanna-be-doctor. She was all those things wrapped in intelligence and heart. I felt she was true to her times, too, and it was one of those rare young adult books where I didn’t feel like I was reading a teen novel : instead, I felt like I was reading a historical fiction with a young adult protagonist. Even more, I have to applaud the author for taking us into Louisa’s mind and making us doubt what’s real and what isn’t.
I also loved the portrayals of the characters in Louisa’s life. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I was surprised by some of their actions and decisions, giving their stories a realistic conclusion where not everything goes perfectly.
Wildthorn was everything I could ask for in a YA historical novel. Sure, it wasn’t perfect : the pace was a bit uneven at times and the story slightly predictable, but in the end I loved the book as a whole and the characters enough that I didn’t care about those details.
For more information Wildthorn and its author, visit the website, where you can learn how Eagland got her inspiration from a real – and terrifying – story.