Book Review: Wilde’s Meadow (Darkness Falls #3), by Krystal Wade

Wildes-MeadowWilde’s Meadow (Darkness Falls #3), by Krystal Wade

Happy endings are hard to find, and even though Katriona is in the middle of a war with someone who’s already stolen more than she can replace, she aches for a positive future with her Draíochtans.

Armed with hope, confidence in her abilities, and a strange new gift from her mother, Kate ventures into the Darkness to defeat a fallen god.

Losses add up, and new obstacles rise to stand in the way. Is the one determined to bring Encardia light strong enough to keep fighting, or will all the sacrifices to stop those who seek domination be for nothing?

The Darkness Falls series takes a darker turn in book three. That might seem a difficult thing to pull off in a book where there is no sunlight, but Ms. Wade pulls it off with a lovely opening sequence. But first, let’s go back to Wilde’s Army for a minute.

The engagement between Kate and Perth Dufaigh became a moot point after she married Arland on the sly, which did not go over well with Perth’s father. BUT, there are higher powers in Encardia than scheming High Leaders and they don’t much care what Dufaigh thinks. Now, back to scene in progress.

Kate, Arland, and their ragtag army will head back out into darkness soon and they’re taking advantage of their time as newlyweds properly should. Then, there’s dancing. It’s a tradition in Encardia to celebrate life before sending brave souls to their deaths. Told you it was lovely, which is nice for the reader, because that’s when things turn dark.

So far, in the first two books of this series, the reader has been overwhelmed by darkness and glimpsed the dangers that lurk just beyond sight. In Wilde’s Meadow, Ms. Wade leads the way into a wasteland of putrescence, misery, and despair. Here, the beasts that Kate has learned to fight are not all that stands between her and the light of day. The blanket of darkness that shrouds this world is mirrored by the sins of its past and present. Like a hasty tower of blocks assembled by a toddler, one wrong move could bring this world down on itself.

Wilde’s Meadow plays with the stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kate’s army, each soul among them knowing he could die at any moment, works its way through them. With the focus of the story on Kate, her power, and her destiny, I found that Brit Wilde represented concerns that the reader might otherwise forget while worrying about whether Arland would live or die. Each person in this world has a prophecy. Each has a part to play in whether Kate ultimately wins or loses, and Brit shoulders a burden heavier than most everyone else.

I must say that as a whole, I enjoyed the Darkness Falls series. Krystal Wade’s use of magic is very simple, and it is very consistent through all three books. Her prose is unpretentious. Her characters are honest, even the devious ones, and allowed to grow naturally within the confines of their storylines. At it’s core, it is a story about love and courage in the face of impossible odds, and I would recommend it to an older teen audience.

★★★★

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Book Review: Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls #2), by Krystal Wade

15079819Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls #2), by Krystal Wade

“Hello, Katriona.”

Those two words spark fear in Katriona Wilde and give way to an unlikely partnership with Perth, the man she’s been traded to marry for a favor. Saving her true love and protector Arland, her family, and their soldiers keeps her motivated, but the at-odds duo soon realizes trust is something that comes and goes with each breath of Encardia’s rotting, stagnant air. The moment when concern for her missing sister spirals out of control, all thoughts of trust are pushed aside and she finds herself trapped by the daemon tricks Perth warned her of.

However, rescuing those she loves is only half the problem.

Kate still must get to Willow Falls, unite her clashing people, and form an army prepared to fight in order to defeat Darkness. When so many she’s grown fond of die along the journey, her ability to play by the gods’ rules is tested.

How will she make allies when the world appears stacked against her? And will she still be Katriona Wilde, the girl with fire?

Wilde’s Army picks up the moment Wilde’s Fire left off. Arland, Kate’s mother and sister, and the rest of the inhabitants of the base have vanished. All except for Perth, the man Kate is supposed to marry to appease a political ally. Kate forms a tenuous partnership with him because, while she has no intentions of marrying the man, she does need him if she’s going to find the others. It’s in Kate’s nature to see the best in people, including this strange Ground Dweller, but circumstances require her to keep Perth at arm’s length and on a short leash. For his part, Perth is cooperative with her plans to rescue Arland and her family. He plays devil’s advocate and gives her advice, all despite her American teen snark.

The reader is reminded quickly that not only is the world around Kate a dark and dangerous place, but it is in part because of her. She is the one prophesied to destroy end the reign of darkness. The eldest daughter of High Leaders, ruling this world is her birthright. Naturally, the malevolent force who is oppressing Encardia delights in taunting and tormenting her with every tool at his disposal…vicious beasts, the lives of her friends and family, with exhaustion, hunger, and temptation. And still, the most dangerous thing in this world might Perth’s father, his ambition, his greed, and his careless flaunting of essential resources.

Opposite High Leader Dufaigh is Saraid Wilde, Kate’s mother and a woman of great power and perhaps greater secrets. She plays the Leaders’ game in Encardia with one hand in the cookie jar and the other behind her back, fingers crossed. At the risk of alienating both of her daughters, Saraid never tells the whole story, never reveals exactly what she’s thinking, and never gives a straight answer to questions. She has her reasons, but as Kate grows more and more frustrated, the reader does as well.

There were some details in the beginning that snagged my attention. I would recommend reading the final chapter of Wilde’s Fire before opening Wilde’s Army. There was also one scene where I feel the author backed herself into a corner and telling was really the only way out. Those issues aside, if Wilde’s Army has a big fault, it’s having the misfortune to follow Wilde’s Fire.

Krystal Wade’s strength is in her characters, though. The Arland / Kate / Perth triangle, as the three test the limitations of each other’s loyalty and patience, was well worth the read.

★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Cover Reveal: Wilde’s Meadow, by Krystal Wade

Happy endings are hard to find, and even though Katriona is in the middle of a war with someone who’s already stolen more than she can replace, she aches for a positive future with her Draíochtans.

Armed with hope, confidence in her abilities, and a strange new gift from her mother, Kate ventures into the Darkness to defeat a fallen god.

Losses add up, and new obstacles rise to stand in the way. Is the one determined to bring Encardia light strong enough to keep fighting, or will all the sacrifices to stop those who seek domination be for nothing?

Links:
@KrystalWade

Evolution Thursday: Krystal Wade

Krystal Wade’s morning commute, fifty-miles into and back out of DC, is spent with hitchhikers. No kidding. She has participated in organized hitchhiking for eleven years, which gives her lots of time to flesh out the characters and plots of her Darkness Falls series. Between the love of her life, their three children, and her hours spent stuck in traffic, she somehow manages to find “spare time.” It’s a good thing too, because she spends it writing, and she’s great at it.

Krystal, what gave you the idea for Wilde’s Fire?

I’ve answered this question so many times I feel like a broken record. 😉 Wilde’s Fire all started with an image of a young girl in a dense, green forest, reaching out to touch something shimmering. That was all I had.

Do you remember the first scene you wrote?

Well, back when I first tried to write WF, the first scene was Kate running out of her house, late for school. When she backed out of her driveway, someone was standing at the end of it, someone she’d dreamed of her whole life. Now, you’ve read the book, and you know that’s not in there. 😉

No, it certainly isn’t. Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

I have more than just a scene, I have the first eight chapters of the book. I also have the last five chapters of the book. Let’s just say I cut A LOT. But I think what I left in works well.

It works very well!

When I’m writing, I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that?

I cannot share my a-ha moments with you or anyone. I have them frequently though.

Fair enough. How about where the story took you. Are you surprised? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

I am quite surprised with the overall trilogy. I didn’t know I had it in me. The book I originally started writing sucked by comparison! LOL

What idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him.

I have an urban fantasy plotted, but recently after seeing a young man arrested on the side of the highway, this story is BEGGING me to write it. I’ve even pumped up writing in Wilde’s Meadow just so I can get to this story. Crazy, right?

Not so much, really. Thank you, Krystal, for participating in Evolution Thursday. Everyone, please check out the trailer and blurb for Wilde’s Fire.


“There is no pain in this death, only peace, knowing I am going to die with the one I love the most.” — Katriona Wilde

Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. She’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made. Will she discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?

Wilde’s Fire is available now from Noble Young Adult.


Next week, my Evolution Thursday guest will be Sasha Summers, talking about her fantasy “Medusa: A Love Story.”

Book Review: Wilde’s Fire, by Krystal Wade

I’m at Ciara Knight’s blog today giving my two cents on the disappointing phrase, “I just didn’t love it enough.” I hope you check it out, but don’t go yet! (There’s a link at the bottom of this post.) Here’s my newest book review.

Wilde’s Fire, by Krystal Wade
Noble Young Adult, 2012

Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dream of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. Kate’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made. Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?


Katriona “Kate” Wilde got home from her first year of school at Virginia Tech yesterday. It’s Memorial Day weekend and the family had plans to go camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, same as they do every year, but this year her mother is very ill. After waking up from a nightmare about a lover named “Arlan” being brutally murdered in front of her, Kate, her sister Brittany “Brit”, and her BFF Brad go on their own. On the road together, Kate and Brit pass the time singing, but Brad is very quiet. This is his first trip back to the woods after getting very lost at the age of ten. The girls know the trail very well, but before they reach their destination (a two day hike), she has a fainting spell, a strange dream, and discovers that Brit and Brad both want to talk to her, but neither with the other around. She also notices strange gold lights, which flash in the woods, and eventually lead her to her favorite swimming hole and an underwater cave.

The three enter the mouth of the cave together and fall face first into a midnight massacre of women and children. Kate pushes her sister back into water, now a portal behind them. Brad kisses Kate, and believing they’re going to die, she kisses him back. They’re attacked; Brad is impaled by claws that go right through him. When she wakes up next, it is two days later. Brad is hanging onto life by a thread, slowly succumbing to poison for which there is no antidote. And the bed she’s been sleeping in belongs to the underground bunker’s commander, Arlan, the same man she’s seen die a thousand times over in her nightmares.

Let me talk a little bit about Arlan Maher. I don’t know what I was expecting from the hero of this book, but I really wasn’t expecting him. He’s been commanding soldiers in a bunker for years waiting for Kate Wilde to return to their world, and when she’s finally in his house, he manages to avoid being either bumbling, insecure, or obnoxiously confident. Arlan is a gentleman, a warrior, a man whose life has been defined by destiny and duty, and he’s comfortable in his own skin. His secrets are simply withheld data; they never amount to masks. Responsible for the lives of 47 people under his roof, he succeeds in protecting them with a combination of decisive action and charm. All, that is, but Kate.

In one key scene of the book, Brad has woken from his drug-induced coma after three weeks and finds Arlan and Kate locked in a steamy kiss. Brad, whose obsession with Kate has led to a delusion that they’re together, is furious that she’s betrayed him. In stark contrast to Brad, Arlan is not a child. The sunless world in which he was raised never afforded him even moments of immaturity. Though only five years older, Arlan confronts Brad with a true leader’s wisdom…stern, quiet, and fully resolved to put the kid in his place. But Kate steps in front of Arlan just as Brad throws a punch, earning a quick trip to the floor and a shiner for her trouble. Protecting her is Arlan’s foretold destiny, and given that he loves her deeply the fact that this is just one of the moments recently that she’s saved him, he questions whether he’s worthy of being her guardian.

Kate is a very naive, very innocent; twenty-years-old and never been kissed until Brad plants one while thinking they’re going to die. When Kate loves someone, whatever the nature of that love, she gives with her whole heart. Looking back on her life, she remembers a boy who has been in every day of her life since grade school. Others around her see Brad’s behavior differently, and while they’ve tried to tell her, she either misses or dismisses their concern.

Setting the manly-men problems aside, Kate is also an independent girl who doesn’t like to be told what she will or will not do. People try to cover her escape; she stays behind to fight or die, which really is admirable. For a college sophomore who falls through the bottom of a river into pitch black hell, she handles the news that it’s her destiny to save this strange world rather well. What she doesn’t take well is learning all the secrets that have been kept from her, particularly the twenty-year-old betrothal to the creepy albino soldier in Arlan’s bunker. Perth serves as multitasking plot device. First, he symbolizes the complicated politics that surround Kate and the war being fought with Darkness to save what remains of humanity. Second, he’s an obstacle standing between Arlan and Kate. But there’s something about Kate’s mother, who joins her in the dark world, that makes me think that Perth will be either a big problem, or a persistent one…but not both. That’s pure speculation on my part, and speaking of that, this book left me with a lot of suspicions that I can’t wait for the sequel to answer.

Wilde’s Fire, written in first-person present tense, is a young woman’s adventure into the unknown. As past tense generally serves to tell a story remembered, even when there is great conflict or danger, the reader may rely upon those verbs as assurances that the narrator pulls through…like a tight-rope walker high above a waiting safety net. But Kate’s story leads the reader blind from one moment to the next, with only her remembered nightmares of Arlan dying to hold onto for hope that they survive the unfamiliar battle they fight now. Krystal Wade truly is a hot, new talent.

And I hope you’ll check out Ciara Knight’s blog.