Lore of the Wilds by Analeigh Sbrana

How can I review a book that has a plot twist in the last chapter that changes the entire book? Lore of the Wilds is a fantasy that is enjoyable but…odd. The heroine is twenty-one but the book reads as very YA despite one graphic sex scene. There’s a love triangle, but it’s difficult to write about it without revealing a spoiler that comes out of nowhere at the very end of the book. There is wildly uneven pacing. There’s a cliffhanger ending.

However, there’s also an irresistible Dungeons and Dragons vibe to the entire thing and the fact that all of the main characters are Black is pretty freaking delightful. It’s about time we had some elves with melanin. Lore (the heroine) is a kind and relatable character when she isn’t being, forgive me, incredibly naive. The writing is effective with warm descriptions of people, places, fashion and food. I found this book to be intermittently frustrating, but also rather immersive and enjoyable.

Here, as far as I comprehend it, is the plot, and I’m going to tell you all about it up to a point because I just need to share this with someone. Lore runs an apothecary and tends to orphans in her human village of Duskhollow, but she dreams of exploring the woods beyond the village.

The humans are trapped in the village by elvish magic. When the elves discover that Lore can read their language, they force her to go to the elf castle where she is tasked with cleaning, sorting, and cataloging the entire library. All the elves are mean to her except for this one guard, Asher, who is initially gruff but then shows her kindness. He is the Byronic hero type – lots of brooding, intense gazes, and mystery. There is much sexual tension.

This is the basic setup of the book, but I do in fact intend to tell you more, so beware:


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Lore taes to the library like a combination of Belle and Cinderella, with the aid of two elvish children who adore her. Eventually she finds a magic book. Here are some reasons why she should not fuck with it:

  1. She finds it in a dark corner of the library that always freaks her out.
  2. It calls her by name. Repeatedly. In creepy whispers.
  3. It makes her think she’s in a cozy room drinking tea, an enchantment that she is fully aware is an enchantment, thus proving that it is willing and able to fuck with her brain.
  4. She’s supposed to take any magical books to the head elf dude.
  5. When she opens the book the words disappear, leaving blank pages.

So she puts it right back on the shelf and gets back to work.

HAHAHAHAHAHA no of course not she steals it and uses it as a journal.

Well shit happens and the book pipes up to offer her knowledge and power on the condition that she “Just be ours and we will be yours,” which sounds like a completely trustworthy thing for a magical book to say. Lore has to flee from the elves, which means that she has to use the power of the book, and of course Asher goes with her because he just does, OK? And they have to hide and he builds a fire and bathes her wounds and feeds her fish that he caught and cooked with tasty herbs, and then they go to an inn where there is only one bed, and it all feels like a straightforward fantasy romance novel.

But wait! They meet up with another elf family with whom Asher is friends. One of these family members is named Finndryl. He is very grumpy. Lore is tormented with worry for her friends and her village, but she puts on a brave face and sunshines about the place, cleaning and cooking and eventually reading her creepy-ass book, which Finndryl helps her translate while casting longing glances at her in between making grumpy remarks. Lore finds herself attracted to Finndryl, but is also madly in love/lust with Asher.

This is as far as I will take you, Dear Reader. I dare not reveal the ending except to say it is a complete and total cliffhanger that leaves not a single thread resolved and that also changes everything about the previous 331.5 pages.

What am I to make of this? My guess is that this will be a very enjoyable book for the right reader at the right time. Expect surprises in the romance department and a massive cliffhanger. Expect that Lore will make a number of stupendously, ridiculously inane and illogical decisions. Expect an immersive environment including food and clothes, castles, taverns, woods, and ocean. Just don’t expect an actual ending.

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