I usually do not do reviews on this blog, but I was invited by Julia Witmer to be a part of her A Wilted Willow Blog Tour, and am pleased to accept. Here is her website: Julia Witmer, Author
Author: Julia Witmer
Day one in fifteen-year-old Mira Miller’s new home, and a strange man steps through a door that should lead to nowhere. Informing her that a nation from another world needs help defeating a tyrant king with an insatiable taste for power, he presents her a choice: come with him and help, or stay behind and miss out on a chance for adventure
Cadmus Clark, a quiet boy her age who’s more than happy sitting at home all day, reluctantly agrees to join Mira’s escapade after she arrives in his world. Faced with training for battle, a magical assassin, and worst of all, extended time with bossy Mira, Cadmus is certain he’ll regret his choice to help her.
Mira has a new skill to master. Cadmus has a stubborn girl to deal with. And together they have a war to win. They might just be in over their heads.
. . . But Mira would never admit that.
Rating: ★★★★☆ (Not that I’m much of a person for ratings; I prefer to simply say what caught my attention, since not everyone enjoys the same things!)
The character development in A Wilted Willow is good. The characters have distinct personalities, and they act in accord with their personalities; their reactions change in response to their circumstances and experiences, but not in a way that contradicts who they are to begin with, but rather is a development out of that. The plot is simple and direct. It is at the opposite end of the ‘reluctant hero’ trope, and a somewhat odd twist on the ‘chosen one’ trope. Cadmus is often somewhat reluctant, but Mira is anything but reluctant, and if she is chosen, she actively, freely chooses just as strongly. I’ve never before read a novel in which the protagonist is so eager to jump into her adventure, eyes open, before she even knows what is going on, and while experiences and circumstances sometimes get to her, she keeps that eagerness that embraces her adventure, her calling, that runs to and even chooses it for herself. At the same time, her personality is far more adventurous than heroic – or, at least, so it seems to me – but then she finds herself motivated by something that can sustain where even the most adventurous heart might turn back – love, and not primarily romantic love, but love of people for being people and a world for being that world.
There are some parts in A Wilted Willow that I found heart-breakingly sad. I usually don’t mind a fair amount of death and darkness, but for some reason I found this one sadder than usual.
[SPOILER] Something that really caught my attention was how the author handled it when Cadmus’ pet-friend, Ollie, dies. Cadmus is heart-broken over his pet, and he feels bad that he feels so much more strongly over the death of his pet than over the threat to his country, so much so that now he really wants to kill Adelram (that’s the villain), when the threat to his country did not make him feel that way. Julia Witmer does not, however, suggest that Cadmus’ care for Ollie is mis-placed or wrong, but that it is natural and acceptable. [End SPOILER]