Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Wild Wood by Posie Graeme-Evans

Title: Wild Wood
Author: Posie Graeme-Evans
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 1st April 2015
Pages: 454
Book Source: Simon & Schuster AU

Synopsis: Jesse Marley calls herself a realist; she’s all about the here and now. But in the month before Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981, all her certainties are blown aside by events she cannot control. First she finds out she’s adopted. Then she’s run down by a motorbike.

In a London hospital, temporarily unable to speak, she uses her left hand to write. But Jesse’s right-handed. And as if her fingers have a will of their own, she begins to draw places she’s never seen, people from another time—a castle, a man in medieval armour. And a woman’s face.

Rory Brandon, Jesse’s neurologist, is intrigued. Maybe his patient’s head trauma has brought out latent abilities. But wait. He knows the castle. He’s been there.

So begins an extraordinary journey across borders and beyond time, one that takes Jesse to Hundredfield, a stronghold built a thousand years ago by a brutal Norman warlord and passed down to the noble Dieudonné family, a clan honored and burdened with the task of protecting England’s dangerous northern border in the fourteenth century. Jesse holds the key to the castle’s many secrets and its connection to the mystical legend of the Lady of the Forest.

Somehow Hundredfield, with its history of darkness and light, of bloody battles won and lost, will help Jesse find her true lineage. In a world where the tales of old are just a heartbeat away, there are no accidents. There is only fate.

My Thoughts:
I fell in love with Posie Graeme-Evans' writing almost 10 years ago after reading her War of the Roses trilogy. The cover of Wild Wood called my name, blessed by the cover fairies with what looks to me like Eilean Donan Castle. Then of course I noticed the author's name and when I finally read the synopsis, I was sold. And not disappointed ... this Australian author's writing has evolved over the years and Wild Wood is a beautifully refined story, compelling and evocative. 

"The past bleeds into the present."

A dual narrative, separated by centuries, distinct but slowly merging as the threads of past and present unlock long-held secrets ...

1321 in the borderlands, the story unfolds at the Norman stronghold Hundredfield, held by Godefroi, eldest of the three Dieudonné brothers. The story is narrated by the youngest, Bayard. I loved his character; battle-hardened knight, his strength, compassion and sensitivity endearing traits. 

1981 Jesse Mayard's world is rocked when she learns she is adopted and leaves her home in Sydney, Australia determined to discover the truth, and herself. Heading for Jedburgh in Scotland, fate intervenes bringing Jesse and Alicia and her neurologist friend Rory Brandon together, setting Jesse on the path to Hundredfield.

In a dual time line story I normally find one story appeals more than the other but with Wild Wood I was equally intrigued by both. I was immediately hooked on Bayard's narration, page-turning, breath-holding reading, the setting and times, violent, harsh and unforgiving. Jesse's narration was a quieter pulling, until Hundredfield exerted its influence. 

Wild Wood has its faults but maybe visiting Scotland gave the story and Hundredfield a whole lot more 'feel' ... history literally seeps from the walls of these ancient castles and ruins, it can be quite emotionally overwhelming. It was lovely to revisit that feeling with Wild Wood. 

History, dark secrets, legend and superstition create a haunting tale. And now I look forward to the author's new writing venture ... The Outer Sea. Write faster Posie :)

Cover: I'm in love.

Eilean Donan ~ photos taken Nov 2014

Connect with Posie Graeme-Evans


  1. Ohhhhhhhhhh this sounds GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. it was Julie, I fell in love with the cover but luckily the contents lived up to it!!

  2. The beginning of the story kind of reminded me of the start of another Australian's novel, Matilda last waltz by Tamara McKinley, with a traffic accident and adoption. Also the dual narration, but in McKinley's novel it comes in form of diary entries if I remember correctly. Lovely pictures, I can see how being a place like that gives extra dimensions to the reading :)

    1. Have you read it Mari, or were you referring to synopsis? I haven't read Matilda's Last Waltz, *confession* I haven't even heard of it lol, but I'm going to check it out :)

    2. No, I haven't read Wild Wood, but your review made me think of the McKinley novel. I read it a long time ago, in 2003, while on a beach on one of the Canary Islands. I cried several times, so I can not recommend it as a good beach read ;) The historical perspective in Matilda's Last Waltz is a much shorter one than in Wild Wood, it was just those little things that reminded me of the other book.

      At the time I felt that Matilda's Last Waltz was an excellent Australian historical drama(and I would love to hear what you think of it should you ever read it). It made an impact on me, I cannot claim to have such vivid memory of all the books I read, but this one has stuck in my head. I have never been to Australia, but the author painted a viewed picture of how it might be some places in your country. I actually own two Norwegian translations of the book, one of them read to pieces(I have pushed it on several friends). I thought it was a well known book in Australia, but then you would have recognized the title. I see from Wikipedia that the author is perhaps more British than Australian: "She was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1948, but was raised in Devonport until the age of ten, when who accompanied her English grandmother (who had adopted her at age six) to the United Kingdom where she has been based ever since. Although based in Britain, she visits Australia every year to research her novels which are all set there.". Maybe a reason why she might be more famous closer to Norway than in Australia?

      Sorry for rambling on and on and on.

  3. Ohhhh sounds like a book for me!

    1. yay, let me know what you think when you get your hands on a copy :)

  4. Sounds like one I should read this year! I am so so on double narrations, like you I usually like one better than the other and then I hate going to the other time. So this is a must read for me!

    1. I'm so glad Kathryn, the dual narrative is really well done. Hope you like it as much as I did!

  5. This is going on my TBR list now!

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  8. I knew this author's name rang a bell...I read her trilogy eons ago and loved it! Oh I will definitely check this one out then. I also didn't know she was Australian so for the education on that front.


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