Into the Wilderness

Looking at other reviews, it seems that most people who picked up Into the Wilderness did so because they adore the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and characters from Outlander have made their way into this story. So it was sort of a "fan fiction" for Outlander fans. I may be the exception; this book was recommended to me because I was looking for books that featured heroines who wielded a sword / blade at some point during the story. I was interested in how authors portrayed women who were willing (or forced) to take up arms.

I love Last of the Mohicans, and it was very clear from the start that author Sara Donati was obsessed with the Daniel Day-Lewis movie version of the story. The hero and heroine of the movie are the parents of the hero in her book, with only slight tweaks. That son, Nathaniel Bonner, is torn between two worlds just as his father was. And just as Cora in the movie goes from book-smart, reserved elegant female to live-on-the-land heathen, so does Elizabeth start out as an English spinster and soon take to wandering through New York forests in native garb.

And apparently this double-fan-fiction wasn't quite enough, because there are also ample dashes of Jane Austen references in here as well, from Captain Wentworth to Jane Bingley and Kitty too.

With all the Pride-and-Prejudice-and-Vampire stories out there, certainly I understand the world of mashing stories. And, when done well, they can be delightful to read. But here the writing isn't quite up to the task. Point of views switch wildly, leading to head-hopping which can become confusing. Characters have precognition and know what will happen in the future. Dialogue is presented and only afterwards are we the reader told the character's emotion, which changes greatly how one imagines the tone of the dialogue. Critical parts of the storyline are skimmed over, while other portions become tedious in unimportant detail.

Normally when I pick up a book I get hooked and end up reading it for hours on end. Here it was all too easy to put it down at the end of a chapter, and it was only its presence sitting there as a "roadblock" to my getting to other books that had me pick it up again. Elizabeth's path from straight-laced, sheltered woman to passionate moccasin-wearing heathen was fairly predictable. Many characters seemed either stereotypes or fairly one-dimensional. The repeated insecurities and nervous tics of the main characters became wearying. It was as if they were young teenagers much of the time, not mature adults who had weathered much in their lives.

I imagine part of it is that I love this time period, and I love the idea of a strong female character, so I had high hopes for what it would be like. Maybe it had "farther to fall" than most books I pick up. I can certainly see how people would love the *idea* of the story. I love its general concept as well. But it's the *execution* that I have issues with. A good editor should have neatened up much of the issues here. If there were no other books to read, it would be one thing. But we have a wealth of stunningly well written books to choose from in our modern world, all at the tips of our fingers. With the hours I invested in getting through this, I could instead have been reading many other books which have much more realistic characters and satisfying writing.

I'll give this 3/5 for those who want to have a collection of every book based on Last of the Mohicans and/or Outlander. But for readers who are looking to invest time in well written, fully fleshed out characters and plots, there are ample other books to choose from before you get to this one.

Books with Medieval Swordswomen

Medieval Romance Basics
Medieval Romance for Villagers
Medieval Romance for Nobles
Medieval Romance for Men
Medieval Romance for Women

Life in Medieval Days

Lisa's Medieval Romances
Seeking the Truth
Knowing Yourself
A Sense of Duty

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