*I received and eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoy a good fantasy book. I love being swept away into new, strange worlds, so I was excited to start The Wilds. This book is reminiscent of Alice Adventures in Wonderland. There are not a lot of plot similarities but both worlds are complex and imaginative.
The story begins with the reader meeting Maggie, a 20 something year old returning home from college. After being forced to spend a night at her drug-addicted uncle’s house, he overdoses and dies. Maggie is then informed by her uncle’s “friend,” Marty, that her uncle is the Creator of Palet, another world, and she must go with him and take her rightful place as the descendant to the throne. Maggie is understandably reluctant, but Marty forces her to swallow a marble that transports her to Palet. Thrust into an unknown world, and forced to participate in “The Walk” against Cirrus, a ruthless opponent, Maggie is forced to fight for the throne but she has to survive first.
The different places and people of Palet come to life through the Creator’s paintings. The Creator paints his dreams; therefore the different settings within Palet are often very bizarre. I didn’t really expect anything less from a world made from a man’s dreams but there were times that I felt I didn’t always understand what was going on which caused me to struggle a bit with the world-building in the beginning. I found myself re-reading passages here and there to make sure I was absorbing and comprehending everything. This definitely slowed down my progress for about the first 40%.
Maggie is full of spunk and attitude, so I knew I was going to like her from the get-go. When she found out about her uncle and her role within Palet, she did not immediately say “Oh, okay, let’s go!” She was full of skepticism and I respected that. It was nice to see a heroine who didn’t immediately believe everything she was told. There were definitely moments throughout the book where I thought “What are you doing, Maggie?!” I seemed to always have these thoughts with regards to her relationships with Cirrus and Lucan. She continuously fell all over herself when it came to these two men.
Cirrus was confusing. Sometimes I was convinced he was a villain and other times I felt empathy for him. I couldn’ttell if he was in love with Maggie or just wanted to infiltrate her mind. The scenes from his POV were told in third person which did make it a little more difficult to really understand his motives.
As for Lucan, I did really like what I saw of him. He was gruff and full of sarcasm. He served as Maggie’s protector, confidante, and companion throughout The Walk. As Cirrus’ brother and mortal enemy, I’m interested to see what becomes of him and his dynamic with both his brother and Maggie.
I am very fond of character development within the stories I read. Although I felt there wasn’t a lot of character development in The Wild’s, I do understand that this is the first book in what is most likely going to be a complex story, and therefore the world-building definitely took the front seat. I’m hoping with the next novel the characters are more fleshed out. Where the world of Palet made an impact on me, none of the characters made a huge impact on me and I definitely hope that will change.
Overall, I enjoyed The Wilds, despite my initial struggle with the world-building. Hedger provides a rich and colorful world that I grew to really revel in. I would recommend it to someone who enjoys fantasy and is willing to invest time in understanding a new world. I am interested to see where Hedger takes Maggie and the world of Palet in the upcoming novels.