Thea Slavin always knew her family was hiding something, but it's only when she's ready to head off to college that she discovers exactly what that is. Looking back, Thea recalls how the family piano was locked away until she discovered it by accident. Her parents allowed her to play, reluctantly. And it's with reluctance that they now allow her to move to the US for college. When she chooses Princeton for her studies, the family secrets slowly begin to reveal themselves. Being a freshman in a new country is enough to deal with, but the myths and legends that surround Thea and her family are amplified at the historic university. As Thea struggles to reconcile her new discoveries with her day to day reality, she meets a man who will cause her to fall head over heels in love. And it's a love that could overwhelm them both.
Wildalone is really hard to sum up without giving anything away. I apologize then if my synopsis is stunted or odd, but I struggled with how much to tell and how much to keep back from the reader.
This debut was one that I'd really been looking forward to. The promise of mystery and Balkan folklore drew me to it, as did the premise and the comparisons (The Secret History and Jane Eyre). In truth, those comparisons turned out to be just a smidge beyond being truly appropriate.
Let me first say that Krassi Zourkova writes quite beautifully. Her description is poetic - fitting considering how much of the story does rely on classic poetry. Sadly, though, the book didn't hit the spot for me.
My issue with Wildalone was the fantasy aspect. It was what I'd craved in the story but mid way through I'd resigned myself to it being maybe a more of a psychological read rather than a mystical one. And then the book shifted - just a little - and the fantastic became part of Thea's normal. Amidst the somewhat heavily philosophical classroom discussions and the eventually tiresome boyfriend issues, this little taste of magic wasn't really enough to make the book a win in my opinion.
Ugh, and the boyfriend issues! This isn't normally an issue for me but in this book it definitely grated on me. And it was the driving force of the story! Even when all was revealed, I didn't have much sympathy for Rhys. What's worse, I liked Thea fine until her entanglement with him so overpowered the rest of the book. By the time we roll to the end of the tale, I felt more than a little lost, unable to grasp what had really happened or what Thea's choice ultimately ended up being. (Though I know what I WANTED it to be at that point and I definitely don't think the author had THAT in mind.)
Ah, well. Wildalone had a lot of promise but sadly just didn't quite work for me.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on the author, you can follow her on Twitter.