Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Review: Wildfell by London Clarke

by London Clarke
Release Date: April 27th 2018
2018 Carfax Abbey Publishing
Kindle Edition; 301 Pages
ISBN: 978-1386621218
Genre: Fiction / Horror / Gothic
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

After a traumatic experience with her graduate school professor, Anne Fleming disposes of all her possessions, boards a plane, and plans to check out of life. But a chance meeting on an international flight leads her to Wildfell, a gothic mansion north of London. At first glance, Wildfell seems like the perfect place to hide out, and Anne is intrigued by its strange atmosphere and history of disappearances and deaths. But echoing voices, ghostly mists, a mute girl with a sketchbook full of murders, and a possessive landlady force her to confront her deepest fears.

Anne's budding romance with gorgeous Irish actor Bain Tierney holds her to the house. But when Wildfell tenants begin disappearing and dying, Anne must decide if she trusts Bain. Is anyone in the house who they claim to be? Or are there are other forces at work inside Wildfell? And will they ever let her leave?

My Thoughts
Wildfell is one of those books I chose to read simply because of its cover. I'm not typically a cover girl but I have to admit I have an addiction to covers (and stories) about big scary houses and stories about them - probably stems from my childhood and then my growing fascinating with Gothic fiction in my teens.  Whatever the case, loved the house on the cover; however, the story, while somewhat interesting, didn't quite live up to that cover.

The main character, Anne Fleming, impulsively leaves her life behind after a traumatic experience with her college professor and heads to England, without a plan or a place to stay.  I never really questioned her reasons for leaving as everyone has a reason to want to hide once in a while, but I did question the amount of money she had on her in which to survive.  I've been to London and know how expensive that city is, and after all the purchases she made, what in the world did she live on?  Anne was a bit naive when it came to living in London even though she'd been on her own in college which kind of surprised me.  She was also very trusting, almost too much (part of the naivety I guess). She gets lucky when she is able to rent a room in a spooky old house at a very low fee.  Then strange things start to happen around her and residents begin to disappear.

The actual plot line was very enjoyable and I liked the spookiness of the story.  Even the background was interesting and left a lot to the imagination which is something I like.  I hate it when the author goes on for pages explaining every little thing as if the readers can't figure things out for themselves. This one hinted quite a bit and when you got the story, you had to piece it together. Love that. And dang, I still love spooky old houses.  It would have been nice to see Anne do some more of her own research as being a grad student you would have thought she'd be all over that so the author had to rely more on other characters to relate the information.  While it was an interesting way for Anne to have conversations with other characters so we could get to know them, I also felt it did a disservice to Anne and made her seem lazy and unwilling to figure out the truth herself even when she is given information with which to work by others.  

So while I did enjoy the fast plot and the interesting characters that were in this book, my main issue was with Anne herself.  Like I'd already mentioned above, she did seem a bit selfish and naive throughout the book.  And I just couldn't get past her leaving the U.S. without a plan, without lodgings, and without a lot of money.  It is London after all.  I also had a problem with the fact that we saw little character development in her character as a lot of her reflections were on her past and what sent her to London, including the way she left things there which didn't really help me like her a whole lot.  Without giving away too many spoilers, I really had a hard time imagining that she would dump all of her belongings in a dumpster and head to London, during winter, without proper clothing and a proper coat forcing her to buy the stuff here, spending her meager amount of money.  Makes no sense whatsoever.  I also had a problem with her stay - immigration would definitely have given her a harder time than they did coming over from the U.S. without a return ticket.  It would have been possible, but very difficult.  And she would have had to prove she had the money to purchase a return ticket as well as afford to stay during the time period.  And she definitely would not be able to work.  Get where I'm going with this?  I know I'm being fussy, but I've traveled extensively and I just couldn't get past it.

Wildfell could have been so much more than it was.  I loved the setting, the house was really interesting and definitely spooky enough for me, with enough interesting moments to catch my attention.  I really wish that some of the other characters and their stories had been explored a bit more as it would have added to the tension and drama; I could glimpse it but never really caught it.  It would have been so fascinating to really involve the others, and how these characters with these issues, were all drawn together in this place.  Anne's inner monologues really got on my nerves after a while, and I was drawn to the others for some relief so it would have been nice to really learn more about them.  A good read, and basically a good story, I think those with an interest in Gothic fiction would be interested in this one, but for me, it left me somewhat dissatisfied.