Author: Jane Eagland
Release Date: February 2009
Published By: Houghton Mifflin
Goodreads Rating: 3.49 stars
Review: All Louisa Cosgrove wants to do is follow her deceased father's footsteps and become a doctor, but there's one not-so-minor problem - she lives in Victorian England, where women are considered too fragile for such heavy thinking. Under her oppressive brother and timid mother, she thinks it can't get any worse. That's when she ends up in an insane asylum, labeled a lunatic and informed that she's delusional and her real name is Lucia Childs. Now she must unravel the mystery behind her incarceration, but what can set her free?
I don't normally really enjoy historical fiction, but when I read that synopsis, I had no choice but to pick up WILDTHORN as soon as I could. And trust me, I definitely don't regret it. The premise is incredibly unique, combining all the things I love in novels: strong female protagonists, insane plot twists, and of course, barbaric asylums. From the very beginning, this book drags you in with the mystery as Louisa finds herself trapped in a place she desperately must escape.
Of course, not just the concept is good - the characters are as well. Louisa is a very intelligent lesbian girl with strong ambitions to be a doctor, none of which are exactly approved of during her time period, but her laser-sharp determination keeps her going through the toughest of times. I sympathized with her every step of the way, and there were even parts of the stories when she was in the asylum that had me literally shaking with outrage on her behalf.
And speaking of the asylum, its descriptions were absolutely horrific. The conditions Louisa found herself in were at once fascinating and cringe-worthy, and it was during these parts that I had a death grip on the book. I've always vaguely known that the asylums back then weren't exactly known for their fantastic facilities and staff, but to actually read about it through a first-person view was incredibly eye-opening.
All in all, WILDTHORN is a book packed with suspense, mystery, and plenty of emotion. With a rich cast of characters, including a protagonist that anyone can sympathize with, this novel is sure to grab on to your attention and never let go. It doesn't matter if you're a historical fiction junkie or if you wouldn't touch that stuff with a ten-foot pole - I can almost guarantee that you will love this book.
I received a free copy of this book for review. This in no way affected my review.