Title: The Wilds
Author: Jules Hedger
Series: Reign and Ruin, #1
Format: eARC, kindly provided by the
author in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Coming home to New York in summer holidays is nothing short of torturous. Maggie's mother is officially the worst widow ever and her wayward uncle can't see past the heroin or the twisted pictures he paints. Lonely is normal and normal is becoming unbearable.
Plagued by nightmares and left behind to pick up the pieces of a fallen king, an opportunity of escape leads Cirrus to take a dangerous gamble; a gamble that snatches Maggie out of her uncle’s apartment and into a dangerous world of shifting sand and treacherous beauty.
Now Maggie must fight for a nation she never knew existed. But who can she trust when everything around her is melting like paint? Even more, the man she's fighting against is at once the captor and her savior, the villain and her friend. They could be each other's salvation or destruction, the choice is up to them . . .
-- As seen on Goodreads
The Wilds begins with our narrator, Maggie, returning home from college to visit her mother in New York for the summer holidays. Right away we see that their relationship has never been the strongest, as her mother much prefers to live her own life without her daughters interference. I loved Maggie’s attitude right at the beginning. She has a fun and witty vibe to her character and I loved her quick one-liners.
After her mother informs her that she can’t stay with her, she heads off to her uncles apartment. He is a struggling artist who creates strange and terrifying paintings. He is also a drug addict, but his home has been a sort of safe-haven for her throughout her life. Without giving much away, later that evening Maggie discovers that her uncle is The Painter, who has created an entire new world through his paintings. A certain event that night triggers things to come, and Maggie is whisked away into the other world – Palet – where she discovers that she is the heir to the Palet throne.
The adventure begins when Maggie agrees to take part in The Reign Walk – a contest designed to choose the next ruler of Palet when there is more than one person vying for the throne. Each participant has a token, and the objective is to gather support for their cause over six consecutive days, and to steal the opposing persons token without killing the person in question, with the winner becoming the next ruler of Palet. Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly to plan, and Maggie ends up falling out of the Middle Canvas into The Wilds – which is essentially a desert wasteland that holds forgotten and abandoned dreams and creations.
The story is narrated in both the first person and the third person – Maggie’s POV is in the first person and is the central POV throughout the book, and there are interspersed occasions where we get to see into other characters minds – namely Cirrus and Marty – and those are told in the third person. I really liked this approach, as it added another layer to the story that would have been missing. I will say that I did prefer Maggie’s POV though!
I enjoyed the writing style, and I loved that the descriptions and details didn’t slow down the flow of the plot. Cirrus’s character sort of scared me! I was so relieved when Lucen was introduced into the story, as I connected with him very quickly. There isn’t any romance as such in The Wilds, but there is a sense of attraction between the characters. (Oh, and can I take a moment to yell that yes, I FINALLY found a NA book that doesn’t rely purely on sex to carry a plot! Thank you, thank you, thank you!) I LOVED the interactions between Lucen and Maggie! They have such a natural rapport and entertaining banter that I love seeing between characters.
I will say though, my feelings sort of got lost at one stage during the book. I can’t really put my finger on what exactly happened, but I lost that strong connection I had with Maggie at the beginning of the book. There wasn’t one “aha” moment that I realised I wasn’t identifying with her anymore, but I guess I just slowly drifted away from her character without realising it. It wasn’t until maybe the last third when I began rooting for her again that I realised, hey, why wasn’t I feeling like this a little while ago?
I would have loved to see so much more on the world building front. This kind of reminds me how I felt when I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer – what’s in the book is great, but I want even more! We are told about the Middle Canvas, and I’m really curious about what it’s like and I’d have loved if the characters spent more time there, and explored more. Overall, I really liked and enjoyed The Wilds, and with the ending setting up for the sequel perfectly, I think this could be the beginning of a fantastic new series!