Pub. Date: March 3, 2015
Summary: Jesse Marley calls herself a realist; she’s all about the here and now. But in the month before Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981 all her certainties are blown aside by events she cannot control. First she finds out she’s adopted. Then she’s run down by a motor bike. In a London hospital, unable to speak, she must use her left hand to write. But Jesse’s right-handed. And as if her fingers have a will of their own, she begins to draw places she’s never been, people from another time: a castle, a man in armor. And a woman’s face.
Rory Brandon, Jesse’s neurologist, is intrigued. Maybe his patient’s head trauma has brought out latent abilities. But wait. He knows the castle. He’s been there.
So begins an extraordinary journey across borders and beyond time, a chase that takes Jesse to Hundredfield, a Scottish stronghold built a thousand years ago by a brutal Norman warlord. What’s more, Jesse Marley holds the key to the castle’s secret and its sacred history. And Hundredfield, with its grim Keep, will help Jesse find her true lineage. But what does the legend of the Lady of the Forest have to do with her? That’s the question at the heart of Wild Wood. There are no accidents. There is only fate.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology
What does it say about me when I love books similar to Outlander but not the real deal? It’s not that I have anything against the series: I’ve watched a few episodes of the show and listened to a good deal of the audio before becoming overwhelmed by the length, but for some reason, the entire concept (Scotland! Time travel! Swoony romance!) just appeals to me. I was all about last year’s Avelynn, a debut YA pitched for fans of Outlander that took place during the Saxon/Viking wars. So, so good. Since then, I’ve given into comparisons when I’m normally put off by them; if something is dubbed as being the next Outlander, for fans of Outlander, etc. I’m there.
Wild Wood was one of those wonderful novels I discovered by chance. It’s the month before the grandest wedding of the century: Prince Charles will be getting married and Diana will become a princess straight out of a fairy tale. While Jesse is excited about the event it’s outweighed by a devastating blow: she’s adopted. And her late fall birthday? Turns out she was actually born in the summer. There’s a mother’s name listed on the birth certificate (Eva Green and little more than a child herself) but no father. Upset and feeling betrayed, Jesse leaves Australia for England, hoping to track down answers.
A run-in with a motorcycle only adds to Jesse’s problems. While recovering in the hospital, strange drawings begin appearing by her bedside. Drawings she knows she couldn’t have created (not only does she have zero artistic ability, but the accident left her right hand in a sling – she can barely write with her left hand, let alone draw a work of art!) Naturally she’s extremely confused, even more so when her doctor says he knows the castle she’s drawn.
Spurned on by curiosity and an aching need to actually be at Hundredfield, Jesse throws caution to the wind and agrees to the journey. Only this is one journey she didn’t quite expect.
First thing’s first: I completely misinterpreted the summary. I thought (and hoped) that somehow Jesse would be transported back in time to 1300 Scotland where Bayard’s story lies. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. She’s firmly rooted in 1981. While I was a bit bummed about that, it’s admittedly my own fault (though, still, swoony romance!!) The time travel aspect comes in the form of a legend: the Lady of the Forest, a beautiful woman who arrives when needed, doesn’t speak yet seduces a man and marries him, ultimately gives birth to a daughter and seemingly dies…only her body mysteriously vanishes shortly after. Bayard’s brother recently married a woman, the beautiful Flore, yet this union isn’t one met with cheers and well wishes. The townsfolk consider her a cursed being, making the sign of the Evil Eye when she’s not around. It’s Jesse unconsciously channeling her (or someone) that bridges these two worlds together.
Wild Wood is an incredibly engaging read, but also a very slow read. It took me 4 days to get through it’s 400-odd pages. It’s also the rare novel where I found myself enjoying – and preferring – one storyline over the other: Bayard’s tale was fascinating and I couldn’t wait to return to it. While I wish there would have been more of a time travel element (especially since it’s shelved as such on GoodReads) the expectation of one was completely my fault in not reading the summary properly. Posie Graeme-Evans is a new-to-me author and my introduction to her work couldn’t have been lovelier. Wild Wood is a novel to savor, to really sink into when it’s blistery cold outside and you’ve got a cozy blanket and hot cup of tea. Though slow going, I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to reading more of her books!