Allie Kirkland has never been one to take wild risks. But when she’s offered a costuming assistant’s job on a docudrama in the hills near Moses Lake, she jumps at the chance. She’s always dreamed of following in her director-father’s footsteps, and the reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step. The family expectations will have to wait.
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delevan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the folk songs of Chinquapin Peaks. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, everyone in Wildwood, including Allie’s handsome neighbor on the film set, Blake Fulton, seems to be hiding secrets, and Allie doesn’t know who she can trust. If she can’t find the answers in time, history may repeat itself . . . with the most unthinkable results.
Wildwood Creek is very unique. I am unfamiliar with Lisa Wingate’s other works so I can’t say if her other books are like this one. However, I was deeply intrigued within the first few chapters. The book skips between the present and the past(1861). This book is one of the most distinctive I have read for quite some time. The characters were well-developed and the plot flowed smoothly. The plot does not travel at break-neck speed but it is not slow either. I can’t decide who my favorite character was. Bonnie Rose was the first character introduced. She is horribly scarred from the past and just trying to forge a new life for herself as well as her sister. She is rather stern at times, but I believe it was a necessary part of who she was. Life was hard back in the 1800’s. Bonnie Rose either had to become tough or die.
The second main character is Allie Kirkland. She is trying to live a dream her family does not want her to. When she lands a job helping to organize a docudrama she is thrilled and believes she can prove her family wrong. Allie was sweet and strong with noticeable flaws. I really liked her along with her friend, Kim, who is also a rather prominent character in the book. Kim was bouncy and fun and added a lightness to the novel that might not have been there if she had not been added.
Wildwood Creek is not for the faint of heart. From the very beginning, an eerie feel crept through the pages and words. People disappeared or died and there was no explanation for it for a large portion of the book. One is eventually given, however. Though the explanation is just as eerie as the circumstances before it was given.
I really enjoyed how little quotes or words of wisdom were interwoven throughout the novel. Allie’s grandmother, though dead, was present in that Allie often remembered her by recalling some old saw she used to say.
One thing I thought was strange was the front cover of the book. It’s really pretty but it matches nothing in the story whatsoever. At least, nothing that I could find. I thought the author did a credible job of developing Allie’s love life given that the book wasn’t solely focused on that. There were also some rather bittersweet moments that were painful to read but for the best in the end. The villain was not who I expected him to be. I was taken completely by surprise. Perhaps all you mystery readers out there won’t be. But I certainly was! Wildwood Creek was unpredictable, creative (in a way I’ve never seen another book before), and a little heart-breaking. The ending was told in an extremely original fashion. The way Lisa Wingate weaves words together is achingly beautiful sometimes. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more in the book about Bonnie Rose. However, I understand because the book would have been too long if there had been more.
I give Wildwood Creek 4 out of 5 stars.
*I received an ARC copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley. The opinions and ideas stated are mine and mine alone. My review is an honest opinion of this book.
Note: This book is coming out January 28, 2014 for anybody who is interested. And I do encourage you to read Wildwood Creek!