The Writer's View: Madly & Wolfhardt by M. Leighton

From Goodreads: Madly is your average nearly-eighteen year old girl—for a princess, that is.

Madly James is thoroughly enjoying her internship in the small town of Slumber when the unthinkable happens—there’s a prison break in Atlas, the magically-protected home of Madly’s race. A traitor has set free eight Lore, the spirits of what humans know as fairy tales, and they are making their way to Slumber to awaken their descendants.

The first spirit to arrive is that of Ulrich Wolfhardt, a man that was once obsessed with wolves and a young maiden he would follow through the woods. After a bite from a wolf, Wolfhardt’s obsession with the girl became an unnatural hunger and the young maiden’s grandmother cursed him with a fate worse than death. And now he’s back…with a vengeance and a bite that can infect others as well.

Madly must learn the identity of Wolfhardt’s descendant and stop him before he kills again and spreads his curse across the earth. But the only person strong enough to help Madly is Jackson, the Sentinel who vowed to protect her and the one person capable of breaking her heart. Can Madly resist forbidden love long enough to save the world from Wolfhardt? Or will she have to sacrifice her heart and her destiny to save the ones she loves?

The Writer's View

I  think I've mentioned before that I've got a habit of picking books simply because I like the covers. Well, I came across the Madly series on The Bookish Babe and TOTALLY fell in love with the covers. I HAD to read the book! So I did. :) I mean seriously, LOOK AT THIS ART!! Is it not amazing? This is one of the thing I love about ebooks. When I read a good book review, I can rush to my Nook and immediatelydownload it. (So long as the book is actually available on Nook, which isn't always a guarantee.)

I'm going to start off this review and say that, despite the marvelous cover art, I don't think I was quite the right audience for the story. At its heart, this is 85% love story, 15% action/plot/worldbuilding. Don't get me wrong, I love romance in a story, but I prefer a more balanced mix of the various elements. I found myself skimming the parts where Madly is yearning for Jackson. But that's just a reflection of my personal tastes, not the writing. The romantic writing is totally beautiful. You can FEEL the love and yearning and longing and desire. It's palpable and beautifully expressed. I think people who love romance will absolutely love this story. It's very well written. The characters are very three-dimensional and loveable. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who likes a great romance.

In my review of the first story in the series, I mentioned that the worldbuilding was on the weak side. Because of the short length of the first installment, which is a novelette, it made sense that the world couldn't be fully flushed out. Unfortunately, for my taste, the worldbuilding wasn't flushed any more in this next installment. There were just a lot of things that didn't make sense to me. Examples: How do the Mer keep the Descendants trapped in Slumber without them knowing? Why does Madly have to go to economics class when she's the only one who can trap the Lore? Why does she have to sneak around and ditch class when she's off trying to save the world? If the original Mer still exist, why don't they know who the Descendent of Wolfhardt is? Why don't they know who each and every Descendent is, especially if they're all holed up in Slumber? What exactly happens if the Lore get into the bodies of their Descendants? These are just a few of the things I really wanted to see explored and expanded upon. I would have liked the story a lot more if I could have gotten into the meat of this creative world. Again, I really think this is just a reflection of my taste. I'm not sure these nitty gritty details will bother readers who are in it for a fantastic love story.

Insta-love -- a supernatural answer to a current literary phenomenon

I think we all know that "insta-love"is a phenomenon sweeping through YA fiction these days. In some books, it really works for me. (Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly and Legend by Marie Lu come to mind.) Other times, it annoys the heck out of me. Insta-love only works for me when the writer is truly able to make a realistic case for the "love at first sight."

I thought it was pretty clever when Leighton created a supernatural answer for insta-love. In this story, it's called "tying." It's a supernatural bond between two people that makes them deeply love and desire one another. As a couple ties, they can begin to sense the presence of each other, and in some cases, hear one another's thoughts. And just for fun, the couples that tie in this book (like Madly and Jackson) are on different social classes and technically not allowed to be together. This all made for some great tension and great romance. Both Madly and Jackson have to decide what's more important: their tie to each other, or their beloved culture's rules of engagement. The journey definitely wasn't easy for either of them. As I said above, the romantic element in this story was very well played.

I think all genre writers have an opportunity to use magic to explain otherwise mundane things. It works even better when there's an added element of tension thrown in, such as in this novel. This got me thinking though . . . as readers, do you find a supernatural binding between two people satisfying?Madly and Jackson don't love each other because they've been best friends for years, or because they're both incredibly attractive, or because they'd shared some traumatic experience that brings them closer . . . all the myriad of mundane things that can help two people fall in love -- that's all missing when magic is implemented. Madly and Jackson love each other because there's magic at work that makes them love each other. For me, it worked. I liked having a believeable explanation for their insta-love.

What do you guys think about this?