~ Audiobook Review: Wildblood ~

Published: February 7, 2023

Author: Lauren Blackwood

Narrator: Kerri McLean

Audiobook Length: 10 hours 8 minutes

Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Kidnapped at the age of six and manipulated by the Exotic Lands Touring Company, she’s worked as a tour guide ever since with a team of fellow Wildbloods who take turns using their magic to protect travelers in a Jamaican jungle teeming with ghostly monsters.

When the boss denies Victoria an earned promotion to team leader in favor of Dean, her backstabbing ex, she’s determined to prove herself. Her magic may be the most powerful on the team, but she’s not the image the boss wants to send their new client, Thorn, a renowned goldminer determined to reach an untouched gold supply deep in the jungle.

Thorn is everything Victoria isn’t – confident, impossibly kind, and so handsome he leaves her speechless. And when he entrusts the mission to her, kindness turns to mutual respect, turns to affection, turns to love. But the jungle is treacherous, and between hypnotic river spirits, soul-devouring women that shed their skin like snakes, and her ex out for revenge, Victoria has to decide – is promotion at a corrupt company really what she wants?

After enjoying Blackwood’s debut, Within These Wicked Walls, I was excited to experience her newer novel, Wildblood. This novel is nothing like her other novel, but the concept still sounded amazing. It follows 18-year-old Wildblood, Victoria, who works for the Exotic Lands Touring Company in the Jamaican jungle in the 1800s. The company kidnaps children and raises them to work under their command and Victoria is among the victims. Her newest mission for the company is to aid successful minor, Thorne, to locate some gold in the jungle. There is insta-love between Thorne and Victoria and while I love romance in stories, this one took over a bit too much. I can see its intention for being included, but it still wasn’t for me. Considering the trauma that Victoria has been through before the story even begins as she has been held by her kidnappers for the past 12 years, the novel either needed to skip the romance or explore it more, especially given she “attaches” to him as one of the first people who is kind to her.

The jungle and atmosphere were easy enough to picture in my head as the writing does feel dark and atmospheric. The magic system was intriguing, but there are still more questions than answers after reading. The magic is called “science”, yet I could not figure out the reasons. There is a lot of potential in the Wildbloods and their magic, but I feel like the novel barely scratched the surface. In a way, it felt like their magic was more just a plot device to connect all the characters and setting rather than being fully integrated. The jungle and its dangers are all mentioned, but they felt underutilized. This portion of the synopsis was a huge draw for me, so I was disappointed that there was too much focus on the characters. I enjoyed the characters, but I expected more to make the novel fell more well-rounded.

The message and themes in this story were well done even though the writing stumbled at times. While the novel was longer, I felt some pages could be better utilized to expand the world and magic. As I listened to the audiobook, I think this was one of the main reasons I was able to finish the novel. If I read it, I most likely would have DNF-d as it just did not come together. I think Blackwood is a very talented author and is great at highlighting darker themes in an accessible way, however, this one just did not quite translate in the final product, for me. Even though this novel did not quite work for me, I think other readers should still try it. There are a lot of mixed reviews so while it does not work for me, it may work for you. Overall, I am still interested in Blackwood’s work and will read more from her in the future.

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