Monday, February 2, 2015

Review: Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

Title: Wildalone
Author: Krassi Zourkova
Publisher:  William Morrow (January 6 2015)
ISBN: 9780062328021
Pages: 384 pages
How We Read It: eARC
Genre: fiction, paranormal, mythology, romance
Our Rating: 3 cups 

In this darkly imaginative debut novel full of myth, magic, romance, and mystery, a Princeton freshman is drawn into a love triangle with two enigmatic brothers, and discovers terrifying secrets about her family and herself—a bewitching blend of Twilight, The Secret History, Jane Eyre, and A Discovery of Witches.

Arriving at Princeton for her freshman year, Thea Slavin finds herself alone, a stranger in a strange land. Away from her family and her Eastern European homeland for the first time, she struggles to adapt to unfamiliar American ways and the challenges of college life—including an enigmatic young man whose brooding good looks and murky past intrigue her. Drawn to the elusive Rhys and his equally handsome and mysterious brother, Jake, she ventures into a sensual mythic underworld as irresistible as it is dangerous.

In this shadow world that seems to mimic Greek mythology and the Bulgarian legends of the samodivi or “wildalones”—forest witches who beguile and entrap men—Thea will discover a family secret bound to transform her forever . . . if she can accept that dead doesn't always mean gone, and love doesn't always distinguish between the two.

Mesmerizing and addictive, Wildalone is a thrilling blend of the modern and the fantastic. Krassi Zourkova creates an atmospheric world filled with rich characters as compelling as those of Diana Gabaldon, Deborah Harkness, and Stephenie Meyer.

Our Thoughts:

We were hugely intrigued by the description of this book. It was compared to some of our favorite authors and books. It also referenced a connection to Greek mythology, which we love, and Bulgarian legend, which we were curious to learn about, so we were eager to dig in. We should mention from the outset we were not aware when we began reading this book that it is the first book of a planned series rather than a stand alone book. If you expect everything to be tied up neatly at the end, be forewarned - It is NOT and the reader is left wondering.

That being said, this is a somewhat difficult review to write. We loved the first 75% of this novel and felt it had the potential of a strong 4 cup read. The folklore is fascinating. The author creates a mysterious sense of atmosphere and the mythology is well incorporated and thought provoking. The writing itself is rich and beautiful. Some of the passages about music are particularly poetic.

“Hushed, delicate sounds filled the room with a haunting fragility I had never heard in music. Each tone drifted up and died in the air almost instantly, leaving behind a silence that made one's heart fold in on itself with aching.”

However, the last 25% of this book was troubling. Given the solid beginning we were hoping for a strong finish, but instead felt it really stumbled and lost the plot. Following the big 'reveal' (which we guessed) the mythology goes too far over the top and the sense of mysticism completely evaporates. The end then simply centers on the fairly stereotypical love triangle, with the main character remaining frustratingly passive and indecisive, and there is no ultimate resolution. The tale simply leaves off, presumably ready for the next book to pick up the story.

 Have you noticed that for everything you want or love, something in you always begins to want or love the exact opposite?”

While disappointed in the ending, there were many things we liked about this debut novel. We certainly feel this author has a great deal of potential and hope she continues to hone her craft and develop her skill, particularly with regard to plot. We look forward to seeing what she is capable of once she matures as a writer.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Any quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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