Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Kidnapped at the age of six and manipulated by the Exotic Lands Touring Company, she’s worked as a tour guide ever since with a team of fellow Wildbloods who take turns using their magic to protect travelers in a Jamaican jungle teeming with ghostly monsters.
When the boss denies Victoria an earned promotion to team leader in favor of Dean, her backstabbing ex, she’s determined to prove herself. Her magic may be the most powerful on the team, but she’s not the image the boss wants to send their new client, Thorn, a renowned goldminer determined to reach an untouched gold supply deep in the jungle.
Thorn is everything Victoria isn’t – confident, impossibly kind, and so handsome he leaves her speechless. And when he entrusts the mission to her, kindness turns to mutual respect, turns to affection, turns to love. But the jungle is treacherous, and between hypnotic river spirits, soul-devouring women that shed their skin like snakes, and her ex out for revenge, Victoria has to decide – is promotion at a corrupt company really what she wants?
Title : Wildblood
Author : Lauren Blackwood
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : February 7, 2023
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★.5
Hollis’ 1.5 star review
I’m sad to say it but I think had the setting, and some of the magic and wildness of the jungle — at least in the first half — not been so interesting, this rating would be even lower.
It didn’t take long before every chapter, every page, every interaction between these cardboard characters, became a chore. It became a trial not to DNF around the 30% mark, and maybe it would’ve been earlier had I not chipped away at this so slowly after initially picking it up, but I convinced myself I could at least try to skim through a little further to see where things were going and, unfortunately, eventually read through to the end. I’m not sure why I bothered.
No, sorry, I do know why. Because I enjoyed the author’s debut so much.
This did have a few good things to offer outside of the setting; it also talks about colourism, human trafficking, and more, but it quickly shifted gears to focusing on a stuttering girl getting starry eyed over her love interest. Complete with confessions of feelings and love after two days.
Sorry, miss me with this. I already had one foot out of the door but this was too much. Especially with the whole evil ex dynamic and.. yeah, no.
Victoria’s character see-sawed all over the place and there were too many men involved, plus a pseudo-brother/son who she seemed willing to do anything for and who just mostly slept the whole time. I truly have no idea what was going on with these characters and why. But I think in general there just wasn’t a solid running vibe because the latter half of the story goes off the rails; both in plot and tone. Sometimes jokey, sometimes angsty, quick to forgive, quick to abandon things it had spent a lot of time and energy setting up.. it was all over the place.
I am hugely disappointed by this but mostly disappointed in myself for not just putting it down and walking away instead of pushing on to make it work. Do not recommend.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **