Review: ‘Wildflowers, Part 1: Allaha of the Mountain’ by Aurora Lee Thornton

An interesting take on the familiar ‘quest’ Fantasy trope, Thornton’s ‘Wildflowers, Part 1: Allaha of the Mountain’ has some strong characterisation and very capable world-building. There are lots of good ideas here, including fresh takes on the humanised animal races theme, and there is much scope for investing both in the characters and storyline.

There are times when the description of buildings, architecture, clothing, or different races can seem a little forced or even unnecessary; however, this criticism can be levelled at even Tolkien, so I find it hard or unfair to judge a writer harshly for having a good image in their head of any given scene or place in their story.

The premise of the protagonist being interrogated, which is set in the present tense (as opposed to the main story’s past tense telling) and which opens the novel, was overly assumptive on the part of the interrogator, and extremely exposition-heavy; though this didn’t intrude too much on the story, proper, it would in some respects have been easier to simply cut those parts, altogether.

Thornton’s is a self-professed LGBTQIA novel. There are several moments of tolerance or intolerance for a reader to consider their own thoughts about, along with some gently-handled underlining of societal misunderstandings or differences. It was also refreshing to read something so inclusive of non-cishet lifestyles, genders and relationships. However, there are not many cishet characters at all, especially ‘nice’ ones, and this may lead to alienating some readers or the novel being accused of being misrepresentative; given the historic lack of LGBT+ representation it didn’t bother me personally, but this is perhaps something for Thornton to bear in mind for future work.

As always, though I am very sensitive to personal writing style, my biggest bugbears are typos and poor grammar; if I had read an Advance Reader Copy or unedited proof, I would be kinder / more understanding about these. However, I believe that the copy I read is actually a second edition, after a re-write, so there really is no excuse for, eg., Thornton not using hyphens when needed, or for name changes part way through a chapter. The few French language tangles could also have done with being teased out with a fine-tooth comb.

Having said that, the story was compelling enough to make me push past those issues (which are glaring to me but may not be to others) and continue reading to the end; indeed, I look forward to finding out where the story goes in the next part of the series. Thornton has built a believable and fascinating world with a lot of potential.

I would just like the editing to be as tight as her story deserves.

3*

Wildflowers Allaha

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I do not get paid for reviews or blog tours and this is my honest feedback.

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