“Wildalone” by Krassi Zourkova

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Wildalone” by Krassi ZourkovaWildalone by Krassi Zourkova
Published: 2015 by William Morrow
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction (General)
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
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In the legends of my country, no creature is more beautiful or more cruel than the samodiva: the young witch of the forest who dances under a full moon, lures men with promises of love, then takes their lives.  Folk superstitions claim that samodiva powers run in certain families, but I never believed this.  Or at least, I tried not to.  Because it would have meant that the madness of these creatures ran in my own blood.

from “Wildalone” by Krassi Zourkova

As a first year Princeton student, Thea Slavin anticipates some adjustment to life in a new country and at a new school.  After all, she’ll be leaving her native Bulgaria to study at an elite school in a foreign language.  However, Thea doesn’t expect her decision to reveal painful family secrets, some of which seem otherworldly.

Thea immediately is swept off her feet by a handsome stranger, only to realize that the man she’s falling for is actually two brothers, both of whom have feelings for her.  Rhys is the confident one, to the point that I think he has stalker-like tendencies and needs to back off.  I’m of the opinion that guys who are too dominant before you get to know them are a little creepy.  Rhys moved fast, and although Thea was captivated by his charm, she’s not quite comfortable and needs more time.  Then there’s Jake, who’s incredibly nice and sweet and understands Thea on more of an intellectual level, but he’s afraid of hurting Rhys’ feelings, and so he holds himself back from making a move.  Thea’s not quite sure what she wants to do.  I’m not a love triangle person in general, so Rhys/Jake/Thea triangle was a bit tedious for me to sit through.

But of course, Wildalone is much more than a love triangle.  Thea begins to dig up the past and follow in her older sister’s footsteps, and what she discovers suggests that the legends of her country may be much more than myth.  I don’t want to discuss this element of the story too much, for fear of getting into spoiler territory, but Thea’s gradual exposure to the supernatural aspect of the story captivated me.  Zourkova is able to seamlessly create an atmosphere that blends contemporary college life with Bulgarian and Greek folklore, and it is truly impressive.

And Thea’s character works as a college student who has a distinct and intellectual voice but still feels authentic.  Many times when I read fiction with college-aged protagonists, they don’t seem real because they fall into the trap of being too eloquent rather than acting like normal people (case-in-point: My Education).  Thea goes to parties and gets the occasional hangover, but she also spends most of her time practicing piano because she’s the department’s latest prodigy and filling that role takes effort.  She has her craft, and she tries to have a life.

Overall, I found Wildalone to be a fascinating read.  I will warn that the ending is unsatisfactory and strongly suggests the need for a sequel.  Please write fast please write fast please write fast!

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10 comments

  1. Hi, I loved Krassi’s book, too. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts relating to the Orpheus cult. My writing partner and I have also done some research into this area, and we’ve written a novel about Samodivi (quite different from Krassi’s though). It’s set in a small village in Emona. We are working on a revision because some people felt parts were too slow, perhaps too much culture. But, that to me is what makes the book unique. Need to find the right balance.