Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (February 4, 2014)
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.
Wildwood Creek has moved Lisa Wingate to favorite authors status.
This is only the 2nd novel of hers that I've read and now I feel compelled to read them all.
Why? Story, characters, writing.
First let's talk about story. Wildwood Creek is set in modern day and in 1861. Allie Kirkwood is eking out a dream she's had ever since her father tragically died, to pick up where he left off, making movies. Her mother and stepfather have no patience left for the nonsense of the life she is choosing. She discovers a big break, a chance to be behind the scenes on a historical reality show directed by one of the best and most powerful men in the business. Getting and keeping this job, helping recreate a mysterious 1861 Wildwood Texas, will give her what she needs to finally grasp her dreams.
Bonnie Rose is running from the horror of her past. As a young girl she and her younger sister were captured by a vicious tribe and Bonnie loses nearly everything, including her parents. She has a chance to move far away from the talk, the arched glances, the knowledge of who she is and what she has become, and what was taken from her, to make a better life for Maggie May and her. She signs up to teach in Wildwood, Texas.
The narrative ramps up tension as each woman discovers pieces of information, fragments of who she is, and adversity in their respective time frames. The adversity is tense. Disappearances occur in Wildwood in 1861 and the townspeople begin to wonder if Bonnie isn't a witch, the Queen of the River People. As the pounding panic hits a crescendo Bonnie's life is in danger. In the retelling of the story of Bonnie Rose, Allie finds herself falling deeper and deeper into the story of Wildwood, far deeper than she's comfortable with. And she breaks a cardinal rule that could get her removed from the set and ruin her dreams.
The story is enough to recommend the book, but there's more. The characters and writing go hand in hand. Each woman is different, with different ghosts that haunt, different fears that paralyze, but they are similar to each other in that they haven't fully lost the ability to hope. Wingate expertly handles backstory, much of the trauma they've each suffered is merely hinted at, but the characterization clearly shows how deep the trauma was and how it shaped the women. The writing is transcendent in that as soon as I began reading I became unaware of the words and was pulled completely into the story and the settings through my senses and through the deep characterization.
My only complaint is that I wanted more. I wasn't ready for the story to end and to lose touch with the characters.
If you are fascinated by history or reality television you should probably look into this one. If you want a good story that sucks you in and keeps you turning pages way past bedtime. If you love meaty writing and storytelling you really need to check into Wingate.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer