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February 24, 2020

Wildland by Rebecca Hodge ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


"There was no fairy tale ending here.  Flames consumed undergrowth, flames crept up tree trunks, flames leaped into dry upper branches.  Distant trees burned like torches, tossing fire into the tops of the trees beside them.  The wall of noise struck Kat as a physical blow and her mouth tasted liked singed evergreen."  (p 216)

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February 2020; Crooked Lane Books;
978-1643852928
ebook, print (336 pages); women's fiction
She'll do anything to save them.
But what will she do to save herself?

Wildland was an intense page-turner of a debut novel.  It was highly recommended to me and I'm so glad that I got a copy.  Once I started it, I couldn't put it down.  The descriptions of the fire were outstanding - the reader felt like they were with the characters in the rapidly moving wildfire.  The main character's grit and bravery was apparent throughout but when she was about to give up, I was rooting for her to remember how strong she really was.

Kat has decided to spend a month in the Blue Ridge mountains to make some important decisions.  Her cancer is back and she has to decide if she'll go through chemo again or just let her life end.  During his first round of chemo, her husband was her lifeline but he has recently passed away and she doesn't know if she can fight cancer without him.  She settles in a small cabin with a beautiful view that is totally out of cell range so she's totally isolated.  On her first day, she meets a neighbor from down the mountain -- Malcolm and his newly adopted son Nirav.  Nirav has just come to the US from Pakistan and knows very little English yet.  The next day, she meets Scott and his daughter Lily.  They are spending time in the mountains much to Lily's teenage dismay - she'd sooner be shopping than hiking.  A few days after they all meet, Kat has the children for a sleepover.  So her plans for a quiet retreat are now filled with 2 children and 2 rambunctious dogs.  There is a bad thunderstorm during the night and early in the morning, Kat realizes that there is a wildfire rushing toward them.  When their way down the mountain is blocked, she decides that they'll head into the woods to try to get ahead of the fire.  She questions herself at every decision but continues on heading the same direction.  The air is full of smoke and she can see the fire behind them.  The kids are tired and she has lost her shoes and is walking on blistered feet full of cuts.  But they still keep moving while she tries to figure out how she can keep the two kids safe.  If it was just her alone, she doesn't think that she would fight but she must keep the two children safe and get them back to their fathers.  While they are fleeing the fire, the dads are in a helicopter above trying to find and rescue them but the smoke is so strong that it's almost impossible to see the ground.  They have a few successes but the major setback to the search has them doubting their success to find and rescue the threesome on the ground.  The rush to find them as Kat and the kids are trying to outrun the flames is so well written that I was holding my breath with my fingers crossed for their success.

Rebecca Hodge has written a fantastic character-driven first novel. I loved all of the characters especially Kat who wasn't sure what she wanted to do with her life but was determined to save the lives of the children.  She was so real as she questioned herself with every decision but did everything she could to guarantee their survival.  She had to dig deep to find the strength and determination needed to save them all.

It was hard to believe that this was a debut novel for this author and I can't wait to read what she writes in the future.

Buy Wildland at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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