Book Review: Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece

Goodreads Summary:

At the age of eleven, Mel Smith’s life found its purpose when she met Sarah Ross. Ten years later, Sarah’s sudden death threatens to break her. To fulfill a final promise to her best friend, Mel travels to an idyllic small town nestled in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains. Yet Morgan’s Gap is more than a land of morning mists and deep forest shadows.

There are secrets that call to Mel, in the gaze of the gnarled and knowing woman everyone calls Granny, in a salvaged remedy book filled with the magic of simple mountain traditions, and in the connection, she feels to the Ross homestead and the wilderness around it.

With every taste of sweet honey and tart blackberries, the wildwood twines further into Mel’s broken heart. But a threat lingers in the woods—one that may have something to do with Sarah’s untimely death and that has now set its sight on Mel.

My thoughts:

I loved every single thing about this book. Can I please move to Morgan’s Gap? There are a few things that will automatically draw me to a book (besides the cover). Magical realism (my favorite genre), witches, folklore, small towns, nature, mystery…this book has it all. I could not put it down, and dreamed my nights away in dreams of misty mountains, blackberries, homemade bread and jam.

Mel is a tough nut to crack. Hardened and honed by multiple foster homes where she was unloved and mistreated, she keeps her defenses high and her trust low. The only person she has let into her heart is her foster sister Sarah, whose death shatters that heart that is so hard to wiggle into. She makes a pilgrimage to Sarah’s hometown, where Sarah is from, where her roots were firmly entrenched before the tragedy that wrenched her away.

Here Mel slowly lowers her defenses, starting her life over in the place that Sarah had so deeply loved. She starts to make new connections, to the people who remembered Sarah and her family, to the land, to the community. And when forces start to threaten this new life of hers, Mel relies on all she has learned to keep hold of this new start, this place where she has found a home and friends.

Reece has an amazing way with words. I could feel the lushness of the wildwood, the beauty of the land and the mountains, taste the sweetness of the honey. I just about cried at one scene in the book, when Mel goes to visit the local apiarist. And phew, one scene that should be so simple is so .. er.. hot. This book is full of strong emotions, love and grief, hope and evil. This book was beautiful and wonderful and wild.

I absolutely loved this book, and I can’t wait until the next one in the series, Wildwood Magic, is released! Unfortunately that is all the way in November – but right before my birthday, so…there is that!

So go. Go now and lose yourself in the magic of the wildwood! (well, if that is your sort of thing, that is..)