Thea Slavin has grown up under a shadow. Fifteen years ago, her older sister, Elza, went to Princeton University and never came back. Her parents never spoke about Elza again. They kept Thea away from other family members who might have told her about her gifted, troubled sister. But then Thea is accepted to Princeton to study music, just as her sister did, brings the past into the present in Krassi Zourkova’s hypnotic Wildalone.
The wall of silence stands in Princeton, too, Thea discovers as soon as she starts to look for people who remember Elza. As if it’s not enough to study and work at Princeton and to try and find out what happened to her sister, Thea soon finds herself tangled up with two brothers who might be the love of her life—if she could decide between them.
Even though she’s been dead for fifteen years, Elza is everywhere Thea looks. Thea ends up taking the same classes, with the same professors. In her Greek Art class, the professor assigns her a paper on the same Greek vase depicting a version of the myth of Orpheus the Elza wrote about when she was at Princeton. There were hints before this that Elza was obsessed with Greek and Bulgarian myths. But when the professor reveals what Elza wrote, it becomes clear that Elza was a true believer.
As Wildalone progresses, Zourkova takes us further away from a simple mystery novel. There is magic in Thea’s world, more than what she conjures with her musical talent. Perhaps Elza wasn’t crazy after all. I love this turn. In fact, I wished Wildalone was longer so that I could linger in the mythical.
That said, I was all troubled by the nature of Thea’s relationship with Rhys—the brother Elza was pursuing when she was a Princeton. Rhys is unfathomably rich. His good looks, money, and elitist confidence mean that Rhys hasn’t been denied much in his life. He is the kind of guy that takes charge in a relationship—whether his partner wants him to or not. It bothers me a lot that Rhys gets away with behavior that comes right from a pamphlet about how to recognize an abusive relationship. Even Thea has qualms about how he constantly overrides her objections to taking trips to surprise locations or to parties she doesn’t want to attend. And yet, Thea wants to stay with Rhys. It is, as my fellow English majors would say, a vexed situation.
I received a copy of this ebook from Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 6 January 2015.