Find it at your library!

Frankly, I’m surprised I had the patience for this book, because I am not lately a reader who appreciates slow-moving, thoughtful, atmospheric writing. Yet I was propelled toward the ending somehow, almost against my will. And when the quiet, reflective resolution came, I was strangely satisfied, even though part of me was hoping for a thunderclap of a finish. What sorcery is this?

The Wildling Sisters is a story of a summer heat wave that brought with it something weird and sinister, and how the twisted and tragic events of that summer reverberate into the future. It’s about two families living in the same estate in the English countryside half a century apart. It’s not, as I initially thought, a ghost story. There’s a creepy house, but it’s not haunted except by sad memories. And it’s only barely-kinda-maybe a murder mystery. Mostly, it’s about sisters and the bonds between them, which proves to be something that hasn’t changed much through the years.

So I guess you could say I grudgingly recommend this one. It won me over despite my typical preferences and expectations. Maybe the arrival of fall is making me contemplative. Maybe the book is just that good. The more I ponder it, the more I’m leaning towards the latter.

I should note that a sizeable portion of my enjoyment came from the quality of the audio version, fantastically read by two very distinct but equally talented narrators. It’s no trouble to keep track of alternating timelines when the narrators trade off; the voices signal to you which year you’re in. And of course, it goes without saying that British accents are dreamy AF.

Find it at your library!

Of course the day I’m reading a book with a prominent set of breasts on the cover is the day my boss asks me, “What are you reading?” as I saunter into the break room with my book.

Fortunately, there’s no shame in my reading game. I flashed her the cover with a smile and said, “It’s a lot like Game of Thrones.”

And I stand by the comparison. The Queen’s Bastard IS a lot like Game of Thrones--the TV show, not the books. You know how when you try to read the Game of Thrones books, you drown in extraneous junk about obscure characters who don’t matter? Yeah, there’s none of that here. Each scene is presented much the way it would be on the screen: the characters appear, stuff happens, and then we’re ushered smoothly on to the next scene. It’s like you’re an omniscient fly, somehow stuck to every wall in the castle right next to whatever shit is going down.

And lots of shit goes down. Belinda Primrose is, after all, a spy and assassin, as well as the unacknowledged bastard daughter of the queen. She’ll go to any lengths to protect her queen and by extension her country--up to and including sexing up and murdering her targets. I’ve seen some reviewers complain about her ruthlessness, but I have to wonder how many of those reviewers have watched a James Bond movie without batting an eye at 007’s promiscuity and cold-bloodedness. Mayhaps what really gets such readers’ tighty-whities in a bunch is the fact that the lusty murderer is actually a murderess? *sips tea*

Lord forbid a woman enjoy both her conquests and her line of work, amiright?

Anywhoodle, I love books that make me constantly question characters’ motives. Who’s on which side, who’s betraying whom, who’s lying, who’s cheating, who’s working for whom, who’s looking out just for their own interests, I love it all. That is this book from page 1, and it’s awesome. And there’s a sequel--excuse me while I go shove it into my face.