Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Review: I have enjoyed Lisa Wingate's previous novels, but I would rank "Wildwood Creek" as one of her best. Wingate's trademark humor and small town charm is infused with excitement and intrigue. Two stories, one past and one present, are each strong enough to stand on their own, but create a gripping read when combined. There is mystery and suspense in the lives of both modern day Allie Kirkland and past day Bonnie Rose. When Allie Kirkland becomes involved in a production focusing on the dark history of Wildwood Creek, their lives intersect.
The plot of "Wildwood Creek" moves fast, alternating between Allie's story and Bonnie Rose's story. There is a sense of foreboding in each; and just when the tension mounts, the focus switches to the other character. Bonnie Rose's tale is particularly engaging. She suffers physical and emotional scars from her past and faces mysterious dangers in her new town. The sense of fear that hovers over Wildwood Creek and the evil permeating from its overbearing leader is almost palpable. Bonnie Rose's voice brings to life the characters and paints a vivid scene of the harsh realities of life in her new town. Fast forward to present day, and Bonnie Rose has become a legendary name in the town of Moses Creek where old-timers sing tunes portraying her as a witch.
Wingate cleverly links the past and the present together by making the town and the mystery of Bonnie Rose the focus of a reality television show, which is not without its own secrets. Allie's experiences in the production range from creepy to humorous. There are funny moments as Allie adapts to reliving life in the 1860s, which provide lighter moments in the plot. Wingate also builds romance into Allie's story, but it definitely is not the prominent focus of the novel. Like Bonnie Rose, Allie finds herself face-to-face with death. Although the suspense is mild and the danger is easily resolved, it is enough to bring tension to the plot without becoming too heavy. The truth of Bonnie Rose's life after Wildwood Creek remains a mystery until the end of the novel, when all is revealed. The conclusion is slightly brushed over, but with just enough detail to give readers a satisfying ending to both tales.
I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Summary from Bethany House: With love and loss tangled together, how was she to know where her life would lead?
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.