Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Review: Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Wildwing, by Emily Whitman
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Publisher: Greenwillow books
Pages: 359
Received: Library book
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author's Page
Amazon Page

Goodreads Page

Being the daughter of a poor single mother in 1913 is a difficult role to fill, as fifteen year old Addy can attest. Constantly ridiculed by her peers and treated like she is sub-human, Addy longs for a change in her circumstances. When her mother pulls her out of school after yet another fight with a wealthy classmate, Addy finds herself working as a maid for the mysterious Mr. Greenwood. Haunted by his own sad past, Mr. Greenwood unwittingly offers Addy a chance at a new life when she stumbles across a time machine he has hidden away in a locked room. When she is transported back to the thirteenth century and mistaken for a great lady, Addy couldn’t be happier, that is until she realizes that life as a lady can be just as difficult as the life she left. Torn between love and duty, Addy must choose between the life of privilege she thought she wanted and the pull of her heart.


Wildwing was my first exposure to Emily Whitman and it will not be my last. Whitman’s writing is well-paced and flows nicely. I found myself immersed in the world she created and I was fully engrossed in the story. There isn’t really any mystery here and all of the events and “reveals” are pretty obvious. Also, a lot of things are a little too convenient to be completely realistic, but I’m a sucker for happy resolutions and so this didn’t bother me at all. I enjoyed the book despite the obviousness, finding myself pushing off other things in order to spend more time reading. The scenes about falconry were so well-drawn that I felt like I was there with Addy. Whitman also did a really good job in capturing the “personality” of the falcon Pilgrim. Watching as Addy tried to figure out the customs and reading about her blunders from both her perspective and through the letters of the steward made for some amusing scenes.

Whitman’s characters were a nice mix of modern and historical, making them easy to like while still retaining the feel of historical fiction. I call this historical fiction “lite” in that the characters follow the surface level customs and cultural rules, but they have the mental abilities and attitudes of much more modern people. I generally prefer this because, honestly, people from the 1200s were kind of stupid in a lot of ways. And grubby.  

I enjoyed all of the characters except Addy and her mother. I understood where Addy was coming from, so I’m a little torn. She suddenly appears in the 13th century as a lady with no idea how to behave so she tries to model the “great ladies” of her own time.* Her perspective on them comes from how they treated her as a poor fatherless child, and it’s true, they were not nice to her. Even with this understanding, I had a hard time warming up to Addy. Her haughty and cruel attitude sometimes didn’t seem like an act, and instead it seemed like she relished talking down to people and making demands.  Perhaps that’s part of her immaturity, she is only 15 after all, but it did make her more difficult for me to like. She also seemed very selfish to me, though she did improve in this area a lot by the end of the book.

*(A complaint on that? She planned on traveling back in time and she at least had the foresight to get an appropriate dress. But that's it? She couldn't have spent an hour or two reading up on the time period? Didn't cross her mind to bring something of value with her? Sure Addy doesn't have a lot, but even a little something  of worth from the 20th century could go a long way in the 13th century. Savannah from Janette Rallison's My Fair Godmother was a lot more quick thinking in this regard than Addy.)

The other characters were a different story entirely. Will (the guy Addy falls for), Beatrix (her lady’s maid), and Mr. Greenwood are all admirable people who I found very easy to like. They made me smile and reading about the way they treated Addy made me feel all warm and happy. They each also had characteristics that made them stand out beyond their kindness. Will and Mr. Greenwood each possessed impressive skills, and Beatrix had a keen insight and an approach to life I appreciated. These characters are the strength of the story, for me.

There were a few possible endings, and while Whitman didn’t ultimately pick the one I wanted, I was satisfied enough with the one she did choose. There was one event that was leading up to possible action, and I wish that action had been realized more than it was. I think Whitman would have written it well. The main character keeps me from adoring this book, but if she had been different then this would have probably been one of my favorite books. As it is, I did still enjoy the reading experience and I do recommend Wildwing to readers who enjoy medieval fantasies. Refreshingly, this is a standalone book.  

 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

For another view on this book, be sure to check out Aylee's review on her wonderful blog Recovering Potter Addict.


  1. I've never heard of this... But from your great review, I had better check it out!

  2. Great review! This one has appealed to me for a while, and I'm so glad to read a good review of it! :)

  3. *Adds to Wishlist*
    If anyone asks it's your fault >.>

  4. Glad I wasn't the only one who thought the reveals were obvious. I'd like to give the author the benefit of the doubt though and just assume that she didn't mean for them to be big mysteries.
    A comment on the ending: I think I kind of expected things to be a little different when Addy got back to the future after altering the past so much (Back To The Future style). Mr. Greenwood especially was teaching Lord Hugh so many new technologies, you would have thought this would have an effect on the future. I'm probably nitpicking though...

  5. ComaCalm, haha, I am terrible for people who don't want to be overwhelmed by books! I hope you enjoy it. :)

    Aylee, Nope, I totally agree they were very obvious. I think you're probably right though. They seemed obvious in the "the reader is kind of supposed to know this" sort of way. Though that did make it a little frustrating that it took Addy so long to figure it out.

    This is maybe kind of spoilery:

    Huh, no, you're right about the ending ala Back to the Future. He was changing history and you're right that it should have had an effect. His absence but still keeping his identity and property is another sort of oversight with the whole time travel thing. Oops!


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