Wildthorn – A Spoiler Free Review

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Photo courtesy of viola-goes-to-hollywood on tumblr

Book: Wildthorn

Author: Jane England

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction, Drama, Adventure, LGBT+, Feminist

Rating: 3.5/5

Let me start off this review by saying if you’re opposed to LGBT+ stop reading now. You won’t enjoy this book at all, even if you enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If you are okay with LGBT+ expect a great summer YA read.

First off there is a severe lack of imagery of this book! Tumblr, dA and general Google searches brought up nothing. I’m ashamed to be honest. So instead you guys get some photographs from the victorian era of some lovely lesbian ladies. Why this book? I was actually looking for the next in the Tiger’s Curse series when it caught my eye on the bookshelf at the library. A corset lacing on the front of a YA novel called Wildthorn with the tagline… “Treachery locks her away. Love is the key.” I was hooked line and sinker and picked it up. For those of you who follow me on tumblr you know I was torn between reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane or Wildthorn (I will read both I was just torn about order.) I decided to read Wildthorn. The first day I went through the first 120 pages, mostly full of an intermixing of flashbacks and current setting and events. After the first day though, my reading slowed down and it ended up taking me exactly a week to finish, not too shabby for 350 pages. It’s a page turner indeed and often hard to put down in between scenes. It’s broken into three major story “arcs” easily broken down by England into three major parts with an epilogue. The actual narrative is a flip-flop between flashbacks in bold and current setting and events. The flashbacks add continuously to the story as it evolves, but you don’t get the full story, only hints of it, until part three when it’s all revealed.

Wildthorn follows a 17-year old girl who is unconventional for her Victorian Era. She wants to be a doctor and in fact a new University of medicine has opened in London, England for women, but many people around her don’t believe that women should do more than marry, have children, and run a household. Too much reading and learning can lead to insanity and mental illness. Due to a set of unfortunate circumstances the narrator in fact ends up in an insane asylum called Wildthorn. There she meets various patients, male figureheads on power trips, and a very kind nurse named Eliza. Without going too much into the actual meat of this story she tries to escape, make friends with patients, and figure out who did this to her and why. This is, as mentioned, revealed mostly through flashbacks that the narrator can’t fully comprehend, as she’s too deep and involved in it, and leaves the readers to speculate until the very end.

Addressing some of the other tags above, specifically LGBT+ and feminism. Yes, this is a LGBT+ and you should be made aware of that. If you’re not okay with romance between people of the same gender then please move along. I am not going to say anymore about this as it is quite a large portion of the book. It deals not only with women’s role in the victorian era, but how mental illness is treated. It talks a bit about fashion (always one of my loves), activities, food, and more, but it’s not a main focus. This book deals with heavy topics and one of the patients in the asylum could have been straight out of a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode.

The romance in the story is heart warming and at the same time heart wrenching. It feels you with joy only to watch it shattered. It takes you on a roller coaster as only true love can through the eyes of a relatively sheltered 17 year old who is suddenly faced with much more than she could have ever imagined. None the less, in the face of absolute despair she carries on and eventually preservers.

And now some quotes and a last fleeting image for your enjoyment.

Her bright face, emerging from a cloud of white satin and floating feathers, was like a flower on a slender neck.
Jane Eagland, Wildthorn (via cultivate-erudite)
Even in the gloom, her face was bright: she always seemed on the verge of speaking or laughing.
Jane Eagland, Wildthorn (via cultivate-erudite)
She had a new mysterious way of smiling, as if she knew things I didn’t. It made her look beautiful, like the princess in Hans Anderson’s story about the wild swans.
Jane Eagland, Wildthorn (via cultivate-erudite)
It’s totally dark. I’m numb with cold, and fear beats in my ears. I can’t move. A heavy weight is pinning me down. My mouth, my eyes, my ears are blocked with darkness. I’ve been buried alive. They have dug a pit and put me in it and stamped the earth down on top of me so that I can’t cry out…
Wildthorn : Jane Eagland  (via iamaplague)

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Image courtesy of secretlesbians on tumblr. Footnote reads 19th century queer couples. This one in specific is dated to the 1900s. I believe it depicts the relationship perfectly.

As always all opinions and views noted above are my own. If you’re thinking about buying the book then check out other reviews.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

~ Yoku