Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Title:  Wildwing
Author:  Emily Whitman
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books 
Genre: YA / fantasy
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN: 0061724521
Summary from Goodreads:
When Addy is swept back in time, she couldn't be happier to leave her miser-able life behind. Now she's mistaken for Lady Matilda, the pampered ward of the king. If Addy can play her part, she'll have glorious gowns, jewels, and something she's always longed for—the respect and admiration of others. But then she meets Will, the falconer's son with sky blue eyes, who unsettles all her plans.

From shipwrecks to castle dungeons, from betrothals to hidden conspiracies, Addy finds herself in a world where she's not the only one with a dangerous secret. When she discovers the truth, Addy must take matters into her own hands. The stakes? Her chance at true love . . . and the life she's meant to live.

Overall rating: 7/10
To buy this book: IndieBound | The Book Depository Powell's | Amazon
Add this book to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari Library Thing Visual Bookshelf

Emily Whitman's Wildwing is a time-travel fantasy about a girl who leaves her life as a maid in the early 20th century for the life of a Lady in 13th century England.  Born out of wedlock to a mother who is a hardworking, lower class seamstress, Addy has spent the first fifteen years of her life being harassed and taunted by her wealthier classmates who have made her life miserable.  When she is withdrawn from school after getting into one too many fights with her classmates, she is mortified by the idea of spending the rest of her life as a maid.  But her job as a maid turns out to be more pleasant than she expected, especially when she discovers a time machine in her employer's library.  Suddenly she is whisked back to the 13th century where she is mistaken for a wealthy Lady.  But her life as a Lady comes with certain obligations, and as she begins to fall in love with a handsome young falconer who is far below her station, she may realize that wealth doesn't always mean freedom.

What I Liked:
-     I liked that the time travel occurred between one non-modern time period and another.  It is like two historical novels in one.  :)
-     You can feel the author's appreciation for the beauty and majesty of falcons in the way falconry is presented within the story, and that fascination and enthusiasm is contagious.  The tethered freedom of the wild, untameable birds parallels Addy's longing for freedom quite nicely.
-     Addy is not always particularly likeable.  But even when I disliked her behavior or disagreed with her choices, I sympathized with her and still found her believable as a self-absorbed fifteen year old who is enchanted by the wealth and respect she receives as Lady Matilda.  There are plenty of opportunities for character growth throughout the novel, and Addy learns some valuable lessons as the story progresses.
-     Will and Addy's romantic moments are sensual and suggestive without being graphic or explicit.
-     This story is a quick and absorbing read.  I read the whole book aloud, and I was impressed by the pacing and the smooth, easy flow of the narrative.
-     It is refreshing to read a YA novel that is not a part of a series.   Sometimes it is nice not to have to wait a year or more to read the second half (or even the second third) of a story.

What I Wished:
-     I wanted the story to be less predictable.
-     I tried not to be distracted by the lack of scientific explanation as far as the time travel is concerned because Wildwing feels much more like fantasy than sci-fi, but I still struggled to accept the way the time machine is used in the story.
-      (SPOILER WARNING!  Do not scroll over the following text if you want to avoid spoilers.)  I found it difficult to believe that in the fifteen years Mr. Greenwood spent mourning the loss of his son, he never once attempted to use the time machine to venture back to a date shortly before his son's disappearance. If he was that worried about the potential dangers of the modern wiring, then I am truly surprised he would let his only son (who he has just found after years of searching) hop in a machine that was constructed using only rustic medieval tools and components. And why wouldn't he return to the 20th century with Will?

I would recommend Wildwing to fans of light, engaging historical fantasy novels.  If you would like to learn more about Wildwing or author Emily Whitman, please visit her website, facebook, or Harper Collins author page.

Read the first twelve chapters of Wildwing here!


Candace said...

I've had this one on my WL since it came out. The historical fiction and the time travel really intrigues me. I didn't realize that it was like a historical fiction within a historical fiction though and that makes me more excited to read it! Predictability doesn't really make me want to read it any less, sometimes I don't really care if I know where the story is going. I didn't read your spoilery part though I'm tempted cause I'm curious. But I won't!
Still can't wait to read it! Fantastic review!

Violet said...

Thanks, Candace! I really enjoyed the historical within a historical aspect of the story. Can't wait to discuss it with you once you read it. :)

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