by Lauren Blackwood

2 out of 5

A thrilling new fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blackwood!

Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Since she was 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?

A fierce, lush fantasy by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blackwood, Wildblood tells the story of a girl who must find the strength to defeat the demons of the jungle as well as her own to find where she truly belongs.

Victoria is a wildblood, trapped into using her magic for a touring company in Jamaica. Overlooked for the promotion promised to her, she agrees to help her ex-best friend with a dangerous mission. Taking a group deep into the forest, beyond the safe-ish path. It also introduces her to Thorn.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The story follows Victoria, a young woman from Jamaica, who happens to be a wildblood. She was kidnapped as a child and forced to work for a touring company, keeping tourists safe from the dangers of the jungle, alongside other wildblood captives.
When she turned eighteen, she was promised a promotion to Tour Leader, which includes a pay rise, meaning she can afford to get her and her little brother away forever. So when her vile boss goes back on his word, she's got to go through a few more hoops.

I liked the premise of this book. The wildblood magic, where the caster can use blood to devastating effect, fueling their spells.
The clear affection and connection Victoria feels for the deadly forest is really quite touching.
The forest itself is fascinating, with River Mumma and all the creatures and ghouls, with their own histories and myths surrounding them.

It started off promisingly enough, but quickly unraveled as soon as Thorn arrives.
It wasn't just that Victoria become completely obsessed with the gorgeous Thorn - the rest of the story seemed to lose all logic.
Thorn is in charge of the expedition, and he recognises that Victoria is the expert when it comes to the forest, so much so that he replaces a pissed-off tour leader with her... BUT he doesn't listen to her advice that the forest doesn't take kindly to intruders and will try to kill them all. Thorn is then surprised when people start to get picked off one by one.

River Mumma is a scary water spirit that intends to drown everyone - until she becomes a giggly girly woman, who can be outwitted quite easily.

The monsters are all built up to be terrifying and wild, and although they accept Victoria as a native, they will always follow their nature. No one is safe. Until they magically are. A couple of times, but no spoilers.

The main douchebag throughout the whole book - he's a complete git towards Victoria. But then it turns out that he loves her, and he's only being a git because he wants to make a better world for her. And despite hating the douchebag for most of the book, Victoria backtracks later on, and tries to cast stuff in a different light, because they were always best friends. Which makes you wonder what happened to her bestest friend Samson.

Everything was just a mess, how it established one reasonable story, then completely broke it all down and tried to rewrite it.
Also, all of Victoria's choices just friggin' annoyed me.


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