Title: Wildwood Whispers
Author: Willa Reece
Published: August 17, 2021
Format: e-ARC through Netgalley- Thank you, Orbit!
Blurb from Goodreads:
“A heartwarming novel of hope, fate, and folk magic unfolds when a young woman travels to a sleepy southern town in the Appalachian Mountains to bury her best friend.
“Dark, tender, and thought-provoking, Wildwood Whispers is a beautifully woven tale of fantasy, feminism, and mystery set in rural Appalachia.” —Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time
At the age of eleven, Mel Smith’s life found its purpose when she met Sarah Ross. Ten years later, Sarah’s sudden death threatens to break her. To fulfill a final promise to her best friend, Mel travels to an idyllic small town nestled in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains. Yet Morgan’s Gap is more than a land of morning mists and deep forest shadows.
There are secrets that call to Mel, in the gaze of the gnarled and knowing woman everyone calls Granny, in a salvaged remedy book filled with the magic of simple mountain traditions, and in the connection, she feels to the Ross homestead and the wilderness around it.
With every taste of sweet honey and tart blackberries, the wildwood twines further into Mel’s broken heart. But a threat lingers in the woods—one that may have something to do with Sarah’s untimely death and that has now set its sight on Mel.
The wildwood is whispering. It has secrets to reveal—if you’re willing to listen…“
I will never stop judging a book by its cover. I know, I know! We are not supposed to do that but I can’t help it. The good thing about this cover is that it’s gorgeous on the inside too! I was surprised at all the different things going on with this book. We have a murder mystery, cult, magical realism, romance, and a character finding herself. It made it an interesting read!
I ended up enjoying this book but I struggled to get into it. It took me about 25% to really get into the story. I think the biggest reason for that is that the plot moves slowly. In addition to that, the pages were wordy. There’s a lot of paragraphs that are beautiful and flowery but don’t say much. I admit I was a bit confused about what was going on at times. With that being said, after I hit the 25% mark it took off for me. I found that the flowery words fit the story so well and made it feel very magical. There’s so much detail that I felt like I could picture everything exactly in my mind. Even though, I was more immersed in the rest of the book the plot still drags from time to time. The last third of the book makes the whole thing. There’s a lot to unpack in that time but I think that Willa Reece does a fabulous job making it all fit in and it doesn’t feel forced or rushed.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this is a very character-driven book. Mel has a very complicated past but she’s a well-rounded character. I loved her and it was great to see her find the hope, beauty, and even magic in the world! I loved all the characters in this book. There is a small romance but it’s such a slow burn. Mel and Jacob did feel intense at times though. I liked the fact that the romance wasn’t the main focus of the story.
Overall, I loved this story. I’m so glad that I kept on going because I was so worried that it would be a DNF for me. Trust me, give it some time and it will really grab you. It’s just so beautifully written and has a strong message about hope. The women in this book are fabulous and I enjoyed getting to know them all. This was my first book by Willa Reece but it will not be my last!
Many thanks to Orbit for providing me a copy of this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!