Monday, September 6, 2010

Review: Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Tags: young adult, historical fiction, Victorian England, mental hospitals, GLBTQ lit


Louisa Cosgrove, the independent daughter of a doctor, believes she is being sent to be a lady’s companion. Instead, the carriage drops her off at Wildthorn Hall, where she is forced to take odd medicines, wear awkward clothes, and subjected to horrifying treatment. At Wildthorn, she is not Louisa Cosgrove, but Lucy Childs, and she has no idea why they call her that.

For Wildthorn is a mental hospital, and Louisa is a patient, though she doesn’t know how or why she is there. As she unravels clues from her past and navigates the psychological horrors of Wildthorn, Louisa fears she will forget who she is…unless she is completely open with herself and actively goes after what she wants.


Fans of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith will find something similar here in Jane Eagland’s WILDTHORN. Shocking, subtle, and deliberately paced, it will suck in those with patience, who looking for something a bit different from the norm.

It takes no small amount of skill to weave a world that naturally traps the protagonist in unbearable situations. Louisa’s present-tense account of her time at Wildthorn is interspersed with flashbacks to her childhood, in which we get a clear picture of Louisa’s mother and older brother as restraining her identity development. Yet at the same time, her mother and brother are only trying to protect her in the way that most young Victorian women were protected. Their utter belief in their society’s system only more powerfully illuminates the horrifying situations thrust upon many young women.

WILDTHORN moves slowly, as the first half of the book involves numerous flashbacks that set up the situation and characters. However, if you like Victorian literature, and have patience for quiet character-driven stories, then WILDTHORN just might reward you. From an unconventional romance to a shocking setting, this historical novel is full of suspense, horror, and female empowerment.

Similar Authors
Justine Larbalestier
Sarah Waters (Fingersmith)

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - It's a pretty generic image of a corset, and I suppose you could read metaphors into the presence of a constraining corset...

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Sept. 6, 2010 / Hardcover / 350pp. / $16.00

ARC picked up at BEA.


  1. I just read (and loved) Fingersmith, so the premise of Wildthorn definitely intrigues me.

  2. I don't know why I haven't read Wildthorn yet, because I've been curious about it ever since I first heard of it! I love how it's suspenseful, but subtle. That's a cool combination. Anyways, wonderful review!

  3. Interesting. I didn't like Fingersmith, but that's only because the characters were all criminals and I have no sympathy for criminal characters. The twists and stuff were fun, though, and the book was well-written!

  4. Loooooove Sarah Waters, especially her Victorian stuff, so I'll definitely look into this one. Sounds awesome.

  5. This sounds interesting! I've never heard of this author. *Going to Goodreads to stalk it out* :)

    Great review as always! You def. deserve being nominated for Best Written Blog!

  6. Excellent review. I have this one to read but have been putting it off because I'm a little leery about it. Your review helped me get a better insight for what I'm in store for. Thanks!

  7. I also read this ARC and was totally unimpressed. Too formula - Victorian girl who doesn't fit into the norm of society. I also didn't like the love interest angle.

  8. Any book that is reminiscent of Fingersmith has a big thumbs up from me!

  9. I read and loved this book a little while back :)


Hello! I'm so excited to read what you have to say. Due to high amounts of spam, I'm forced to disabled anonymous comments for the time being. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope you can understand and still appreciate the content here!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...