WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Wildwing by Emily Whitman
Type: Historical Fiction, Teen Romance, Time Travel
Basic Plot: Adelaide (Addy) is a girl that believes and is told that she will always be nothing more than a maid for the rich. After traveling back more than six hundred years in time in a machine, she becomes a completely different lady that is rich and royal. Though it seems like this is the most wonderful thing that has happened to her, she soon finds that being rich has a lot of unwanted burdens with it.
Plot: 3/5 Average: The plot was interesting, but the story was not to hard to guess. The characters were also a little stereotypical in my opinion. I do think it was good, though, until at the end, because I think it could have set up a little better. I won’t say why, because I do not want to spoil it, so you will have to read it to know.
Writing Style and Setup: 3/5 Average: The writing style was good and descriptive, but it was not extraordinary in comparison to other historical fiction I have read. The one thing I disliked the most in her writing was her nonchalant attitude toward ignoring historical facts. Ms. Whitman admits in her author’s note, “…I have no qualms about taking liberties with the facts for the sake of my story. Addy would have had to speak French, not English, in Sir Hugh’s castle. Falcons would have been hooded much of the time. And so on.” That is just really lazy in my opinion. If she was OK breaking the rules of history to make her story easier to write, why did she even have research done at all? She might have done better writing a fantasy type novel if she wanted it to be less constricting. It is one thing to write historical fiction and another to just ignore how the historical society was set up.
Moral: 2½/5 Good and Bad Morals: The book says at the end what the moral was meant to be, that we should not completely forget who we are when trying to change, but merely “finding the strength in it.” Now, if I understand, this is the author’s way of saying we should be more content with life, but the problem is that some of the things in Addy’s life changed anyway. Some things stayed the same and Addy had a much better attitude towards them, which is good, but she also had some things change. I guess we can wonder if she would have been content if things had not changed at all. This book also pushes rebellion as a good thing in some places to, and the idea that being a strong-willed and independent person is good. Though we should encourage independence, rebellion and stubbornness should not be encouraged at all. The moral in my mind could have been better portrayed and was used in some ways to make rebellion sound good. In some ways there are very light traces of Curious, Curious George.
Overall: 3/5 Average: Ms. Whitman’s book was not extraordinarily unique at all, but it was not the worst historical fiction book either. I think quality wise it is entertaining for girls fourteen and older, unless you are an adult that likes teen historical fiction.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content 3½/5 Extremely Suggestive and Suggested Relations: Addy’ mother was not married when she had her. Addy often thinks about how unpleasant the physical part of her arranged marriage will be. Even if she does not ever describe anything really inappropriate, such as actually doing it, it is more than a lot of parents would probably want their child or teenager reading. Her fiancé also looks at her in a provocative way sometimes and makes a few lightly suggestive comments. Addy thinks her fiancé has come to rape her and it is really just a servant. It talks about a girl in a stained glass window that is half naked and is probably a martyr. Addy and her mother argue about how if Addy doesn’t start changing she will end up pregnant and unmarried like her mother. Addy takes off her outer clothes so that she can climb a tree while a boy is watching. Addy gets help getting undressed by a maid and she sleeps in bed at least once, maybe more times, naked. When Addy wants ask if a boy would kiss her if it weren’t for her nobility, he says he “would do more than kiss” her if he could. There are a lot of suggestive remarks made by men and women. A woman servant helps give Addy a bath. Slut is used once. There is kissing in the book but half of it is the long, wet kissing when people make out. In fact, they do make out a lot while lying down and it is very lightly suggested that they might have done something because he starts loosening her clothes in one scene while saying, “Why don’t you tell me what happens next?”
Violence: 3/5 Some Descriptive Violence: It is clearly put that Addy got in a fight with another girl. Her mother slaps her back so that she will remember to curtsey. She also believes Addy got in a fight, though she didn’t. In a stained glass window a half naked girl is about to be beaten. The steward slaps a child. A man is bled in the belief it will make him better. There is a torture chamber that is used on a man and Addy dreams will be used on her, but it does not show it happening. It talks about a horse that breaks its leg. There is hawking and the hawk is described eating its meat a bit violently. People believe a boy fell off a cliff. A person think thieves killed a boy’s parents. A knife is pushed across part of a boy’s head. It talks about how a man loves war and fighting. Addy says she will strangle a man if he does not listen to her, but it was probably just an empty threat. Addy is afraid that they might have found out her true identity and will beat or kill her for it. There are injuries throughout the book, and some of them are a little morbid. The violence itself is not disturbing; it’s the aftermath of it. (You may read more about the injuries in “Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content.)
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 3½/5 Moderate Light Swearing: “Bastard” is used properly times around seven times. “Lord” is misused seven times and “God” fifteen times. “Bloody” is used about eight times. “Hell” is used once and “damn” is used six times. “Hell” and “hellhole” are used to describe places and circumstances once or twice. The book will go through times of no swearing, and then reach a part where it swears several times in a chapter.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 3/5 Some Disturbing Content: It talks about how a man wanted to commit suicide when he believed his son had died. The steward is shown to be a bit sadistic; for it is quite clear he gains pleasure from frightening and harming others when they are below him. Another disturbing thing is that the dead and hurt bodies are so well described. One man is missing half his body and another has no nose. One man is holding the chopped off head of his friend. A man has a very bloody bandaged arm.
Religious Issues: 2/5 References and Customs in Other Religions: The book talks about mass, matins, and priest. Addy goes to a Catholic memorial service to pray for the souls and recite Latin phrases. The priest also speaks in Latin. Addy prays for a dead girl’s soul and the idea that prayer is necessary to bring a soul to heaven is lightly hinted. It talks about a holy vision that the people believed happen, but was just made up. Saint days are mentioned. A man is called “Father.” The pope, purgatory, and convents are mentioned, and churches are called chapels. Incense is burned in the chapel. The characters try to make it appear that Addy’s time travel is a miracle. No actual visions or miracles happen. Though God is implied to be real a lot, I think sometimes it does make it seem like things happen not because of God but because of some force. It is a little difficult to describe and is not very strong, but it is there sometimes.
Magic: 1/5 Some References: A chest is made with a mermaid design. “Magic” is used to describe things and thinks her employer’s drawing room is like “a wizard’s lair” and says that a wizard might appear. It uses a lot of words to describe things that relate to magic like “incantation” and “magician’s spell.” Some wine is in a ewer shaped like a dragon. A medicine is called a “potion.” Addy thinks if the people see her time travel they will think it is witchcraft. The invention that takes her back in time is not magic, but it is more like science. No magic is done in the book if the time machine is not magic, and I believe it is not.
Others: Wine and other alcoholic drinks are drunk a lot in the book, and a man is said to love drinking. They also talk about buying wine. Addy is not at all bothered at the idea of committing adultery with a boy she loves.
Overall: 3½/5 Older Teenager Appropriate: This book has a lot of things morally wrong in it, and I do not suggest it because of it. Mainly the two things I was bothered about with were the amount of swearing and the mount of very suggestive sexual remarks made by the characters. The swearing, sexual suggestiveness, and morbid descriptions of injuries make it unsuitable for a Christian under sixteen, seventeen, or possibly even eighteen. I also think Addy’s mom was put in an unreasonable, wishy-washy perspective and that Addy was put in a righteously rebelious perspective.