4 out of 4 stars
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Rowan Wood Legends is a Young adult (YA) novel by Olivia Wildenstein. The second novel in the series of five books, it begins right where the first book left off. Catori, our heroine, has just endured the death of the third person in her life for whom she cared deeply within a matter of months. Starting first with the death of her mother, Catori had found herself abruptly thrust into a centuries-old conflict between the fae and the hunters who were created to control them. She also discovered that she existed with a foot in both worlds. She was both fae and hunter, a combination supposedly impossible and she possessed something both sides wanted. Before her death, Holly had sent Catori a book, The Wytchen Tree. Filled with knowledge of both faerie and hunter, it was stolen from her by someone she had thought a friend the very day Holly died.
Both sides pull her to join them. On each side, there is an Alpha male who seeks to claim her heart, yet in the next breath threatens hatred should she choose the other side. She knows not which way to turn or who to trust. She is determined to hold to only two things. No matter what, she will remain human and she will retain her own identity. She vows to choose neither side, but can she hold to that vow or will love sweep it away as dust? In Rowan Wood Legends Catori’s journey, fraught with mystery, magic, love, loyalty, and betrayal, continues.
Once I started, I could not stop reading this book. Literally, I read it in one day. However, here I must add an admission. I went back and read the first book, Rose Petal Graves, before reading this one. This is almost a “must do” in order to understand this book. As part of a series, it was not written to stand alone, and the author gives little to no synopsis of the first book in Rowan Wood Legends. Delightfully, however, she does include a glossary of Gottwa (Hunter language) and Faeli (fae language) as well as a list of characters.
I think my favorite thing about the book was the unique twist the author used by including a Native American presence as central to the storyline. I loved the romance(s) involved but was very pleased that the main plot and fantasy theme where still held as the primary topic of the storyline. The author’s skill was very apparent in her character development and in the personalities given to each character. For example, the verbal sparring between Catori and Ace, the faerie prince, was quite amusing. Her interactions with the stoic hunter, Kajika, were both heartwarming and frustrating. I could almost feel the emotions seeping from each page and into my soul as I read.
The writing was fluid as well as highly descriptive. The author’s world-building was excellent. From the dark eerieness of the graveyard to the dappled sunshine in glens and glades, Ms. Wildenstein skillfully painted vivid images with her words. Even with the presence of magic, everything worked. It felt both realistic and completely believable. Every paranormal talent, every event, each character who appeared had a plausible explanation. The book seemed professionally edited and proofed. I found only a couple of inconsistencies which did not affect the story whatsoever. I would like to give one caution. If you like the predictable, this isn’t the book for you. To paraphrase a quote from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll,” Nothing is what it seems to be, because everything is what it isn't.”
I give this book a solid 4 out of 4 stars, but strongly recommend reading Rose Petal Graves before this one. Also, though the book is targeted toward a YA audience, there are graphic “adult” scenes so I cannot recommend it for those under eighteen. Other than that, I would recommend it wholeheartedly for those who love fantasy, magic, mystery, adventure, and romance. I enjoyed reading it immensely and can’t wait to see what Cat’s choices will be, in the areas of romance and otherwise, and what the aftermath of those choices will bring.
Rowan Wood Legends
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