Review of Wildwood by Jadie Jones

Tanzy Hightower is not crazy. At least, that’s what she tells herself. Crazy looks more like her mother, who studies each sunrise with the same fascination other women give tabloid magazines in the grocery store checkout line. Crazy sounds like the woman on the radio claiming there’s a whole separate world existing parallel to our own. Still, Tanzy can’t deny the tingle of recognition she feels each time she sees her mother standing at the kitchen window, or hears the panic in the woman’s voice coming through the speakers of her father’s truck.
Tanzy intends to follow her father’s footsteps into the professional horse world. But the moment she watches him die on the back of a horse in an accident she feels responsible for, everything changes.
On the first anniversary of his death, a fight with her mother drives her back to her father’s farm in the middle of a stormy night. Neither Tanzy nor life as she knows it escapes unchanged when she is struck by lightning and introduced to a world… unseen, and receives proof her father’s death was no accident.
Two strangers seem too willing to help her navigate her new reality: Vanessa Andrews, a psychiatrist who believes lightning chooses who it strikes, and Lucas, a quiet, scarred stable hand with timing that borders on either perfect or suspect. But Tanzy has secrets of her own. Desperate for answers and revenge, Tanzy must put her faith in their hands as her past comes calling, and her father’s killer closes in.

I grabbed this book because I enjoy reading YA books, it includes horses and the name “Wildwood” is special to me. I really didn’t know what to expect and I’m still not sure exactly how to categorize it.

The first part of the book is very emotional, heartbreaking and poignant. Tanzy Hightower is horseback riding with her father on her 18th birthday when tragedy strikes. Tanzy blames herself and finds herself lost in her sadness. To top it off, her mother, who is a bit strange at normal times, totally draws into herself and Tanzy has to take over the running of normal life. Is her mother going crazy or is it Tanzy who is losing her mind?

In Part Two, the book totally changes tracks and Tanzy finds herself drawn into another parallel world inhabited by beings called the Unseen. She meets several people who try to tell her what is happening, but who can she trust?

When you reach Part Three, get ready for another complete shift in the story. Tanzy “travels” back in time in order to find out what is happening to her sanity and we find her in a quasi-gladiator story. Young women are forced to fight predators and each other in order to gain favor with Asher, the self appointed King of the Unseen world. Tanzy is led to believe that she is the reincarnation of Spera, the Queen and key to unlocking the door between the worlds.

Through all of this, who can Tanzy trust (or can she actually trust anyone)? Everybody she thinks she can trust eventually let her down and she is left to fend for herself in a strange new world.

The writing was very good and very descriptive. I felt like I was living in the story, not just reading it. The author definitely has a way with words and telling a story. My main complaint with the book is that it was pretty confusing at times. There was a lot of information thrown at you in a very rapid manner without much background. Also, I really didn’t care for many of the characters and had a hard time relating to them. It seemed like the author started out writing a YA coming of age story with a lot of emotion and then changed midstream to a fantasy.

I really never got invested in the story enough to want to continue the trilogy. And, although horses are a part of the story, they aren’t as big a part as I thought when I picked up the book.

If you truly love fantasy and strange new worlds, you will probably be entertained by this book. It just fell short for me.

4*

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