"They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . . Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries—both literal and figurative—and, do beware: it will bind you, too."
Wildthorn is raw. It's so charged with emotions, confusion, despair, hope, that I was completely overwhelmed, in a good way. Well, mostly in a good way. About one hundred and twenty pages in I considered putting the book aside. Not because the book is bad - in fact, it's one of the best YA historical novels that I've ever read (sorry Ann Rinaldi). The reason I almost stopped reading it is that the main character, Louisa Cosgrove, suffers so much. I could hardly stand it. Louisa suffers injustice, after injustice, after injustice. However, this is also one of the reasons that the book is so good.
Louisa Cosgrove doesn't know why she's at Wildthorn Hall, an asylum. She also doesn't know why everyone at Wildthorn calls her Lucy Childs. The more she tries to convince the staff that she's sane, the more they believe she isn't. In fact, Louisa even begins to question it herself. To free herself, it will take strength, courage, and maybe love.
Told partly in the present and partly through flashbacks, Wildthorn reveals a web of treachery and deception that completely shocked me. As a reader, I was able to guess at some of the events that led to Louisa's imprisonment, but the full explanation left me in complete shock. I could never image doing what they did to Louisa to anyone, even my arch nemeses (not that I really have an arch nemeses).
I have to say that my favorite section of the story is part three, because I finally got an explanation for the horrors that Louisa and I went through. I say I because Louisa became so real to me that I felt everything right along with her.
Jane Eagland is an amazingly skilled author. Wildthorn is perfectly executed to intrigue you and tug at your heart strings. I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, or anyone looking for a very good and surprisingly faced-paced read. I look forward to reading more of Jane Eagland's work in the future.