When I heard that Michaela MacColl was going to write a novel featuring the Brontë sisters, I was overjoyed. I loved her last novel, Nobody’s Secret, and while I haven’t read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of the best classics I’ve ever read– the recent movie adaption was amazing too! So you can imagine my utter glee upon finding out about the premise and getting the chance to review this book. Trust me, it did not disappoint.
What I enjoy the most about Michaela MacColl’s books is how she manages to weave fact and fiction seamlessly to write her novels. I always love reading the end note from the author after finishing the book because she always explains which parts of the book were real and which were reimagined from fact or created from her own imagination. I also really love seeing how bits and pieces of the plot can be found in Jane Eyre and (from what I’ve heard) Wuthering Heights. It really creates a more believable story and even though Always Emily is fiction, it’s much “closer” to the truth.
While I did like both characters, to me, while I would definitely align more with Charlotte, I found myself liking Emily’s story more. It might be because Emily does take on more of an active role during the action in the story, but also the romance does tend to revolve around her, which is something I usually look forward to in a story. I liked how the perspectives alternated as it built up more suspense and really created the thrilling narrative that can be similarly found in the Brontë sisters’ books. I like the other characters’ involvement, as some of them are real and some not so real, but they all helped to detail a richer story.
MacColl has done her research very well and it all pays off with this fantastic novel about the lives of two women who’ve written stories more than a hundred years ago that remain popular today. Always Emily was a fast-paced contemporary-classic that I’m sure fans of gothic literature and YA alike will love.(less)
It was only when I’d finished reading this book and started writing this review that I found out that Alex Mallory is Saundra Mitchell. I really loved The Vespertine! It was one of the first books that I’d reviewed on the blog, but I unfortunately didn’t manage to continue with the series. I’m glad to say though that Wild was an amazing book. I’ve never heard of a Tarzan retelling in YA, and despite the lack of excellent musical numbers, this one was stellar. I haven’t actually read the original Tarzan of the Apes, so I only have the Disney version of the movie to base the story on. I was thrilled that I got an advanced copy to read, and was even more so when I got the chance to be a part of the blog tour.
I really loved both characters. While the book was presented in third person, it alternated between Cade’s and Dara’s perspectives. I enjoyed the parallel to Tarzan and Jane respectively, and especially liked the interaction between the both of them. Several other characters, such as Sofia and Josh, also have a large role in the book and I liked their characters’ contributions to the plot. The unraveling of the mystery as the characters explore further into Cade’s past was very intriguing and was well-written in terms of incorporating character development into the plot’s progression.
I loved the setting for this – the forest was beautifully described both through Cade and Dara’s eyes, but also the time period was fitting for the retelling. While I’m sure it wouldn’t have been set during the time that Tarzan was, it was cool to see how someone who hasn’t really interacted with today’s world see the world and it’s development with new eyes. I also felt that Mallory (Mitchell) managed to capture the portrayal of media. Especially since Wild depicted how pushy the media can be and the boundaries it’s willing to break, no matter the consequences. It’s a horrifying picture that the author paints, but it’s definitely a realistic one. The ending was great: I felt that it gave the book closure without making everything conveniently fall into place. While it would have been cool to see this book work as a series, I was glad that it was a standalone so that there was no need to drag it out. It concluded well, leaving room for imagination but still leaving things in place.
While the 440 pages would have first put me off, Wild was a marvelous read, one I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) put down. Mallory’s spellbinding retelling is a powerful story of love, destruction and what makes us human.(less)