Title: Wildthorn
Author: Jane Eagland
Pub: Houghton Mifflon Harcourt; 2010
Pages: 352
Genre: Victorian, Young Adult, Historical, LGBT

First and foremost, I must publicly apologize for my lack of follow through and technological un-savyness. I first joined NetGalley back in July and requested Wildthorn for my Kindle.  But for one reason or the next, I could never get it loaded.  I finally purchased the book and read it on vacation. 

And wow! It was so much more than what I hoped for.

What caught my interest in requesting it for a review were two specifics: the setting is both Victorian AND a mental asylum.  

Can we all say YES PLEASE.

Louisa Cosgrove is seventeen and not like most girls.  Which means she's not interested in dressing accordingly, or socializing, or making visits with boring old ladies who have nothing worthwhile to talk about.  Nope, she'd much rather be reading and learning and following in her father's doctor-footsteps.  This of course causes for a rift between Lousia and her brother, Tom, who IS going to school for medicine because it is quite obvious that Father has a connection with Lousia and not so much with Tom.  And really, why should he.  Tom is QUITE the ass.  Like you wanna punch him, kind of ass.

[Can I tell you that I adore Louisa?  Like I want to chat with her about lots of smart things.]

When we meet Louisa she has been imprisoned in an asylum under a false name and the more she challenges that identity, the more they believe that she IS crazy.

We find out how Louisa ended up in the asylum through flashback memories. The author does an amazing job using this technique in alternating chapters.

Louisa also has a MAJOR secret, one that is even more forbidden than her want to become a doctor. She believes that this secret is what put her in the asylum.

Wildthorn (title of book AND name of asylum) is a creepy place to end up.  And being stuck under a false identity?  Yikes.  (I had flashbacks of Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. We have fears about stolen identity because of the internet, but consider how easy it could have been in the 19th century.  Dude, don't piss anyone off, right?)  So, in Wildthorn, like how I imagine all creepy institutions to be, there's a public area where people tour and see how kind the "insane" are treated and then there are the other floors where people are held and treated not so kindly.  Guess where Louisa ends up?

Freakin' amazing guys. I don't have much to base historical YA fic on, but I raced through this book.


  1. This is one of those books that part of me wants to read and part of me wants to avoid...

  2. I heard it's really similar to Fingersmith, so I've been kind of on the fence about it.

  3. Oooh I don't think I've heard of this before but it sounds really good!!

  4. I love the cover of this one. And this is one I really want to read eventually. It sounds wonderful.

  5. I really enjoyed this one too! I loved the atmosphere, and I think it's a great choice for a YAL recommendation (as in, all of my cousins are getting a copy for their birthdays this year). :)

  6. Amanda - I think that maybe it's because you've read Sarah Waters, who I continue to hear comparisons to. Maybe?

    Alice - I keep hearing that!

    Jenny - Get it! :)

    Allie - Yes! It's such a enjoyable YA read. Plus, I have a soft spot for (a) Victorian and (b) asylums

    Trisha - I love that you're giving this to all of the cuzs!

  7. What is my obsession with asylums about? Any book set in one interests me. Adding this to my list!


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