The Wild Rose - Jennifer Donnelly Originally reviewed at The Brazen Bookworm.

Whether she’s writing for young adults or a general audience, Jennifer Donnelly has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Her most recent YA book, Revolution, is one of the best books I’ve read in 2011 (my review) and the first two books in The Rose Trilogy were some of the most entertaining historical fiction I’ve read in the past few years. Donnelly is a superb storyteller, and The Rose books showcase her ability to create vivid characters and craft intricate plots. The Wild Rose, the concluding book in the trilogy, was published last week, and holy cow, it is EPIC.

Summary: Willa Alden and Seamus Finnegan haven’t seen each other since the devastating climbing accident on Kilimanjaro that destroyed Willa’s plans for her future. Even when they reconnect in London years later on the eve of World War I, circumstances seem predestined to keep Willa and Seamus apart.

Meanwhile, Seamus’ sister Fiona is fighting for women’s suffrage, her husband Joe is waging a war for social justice in Parliament and her daughter Katie is determined to effect social change with her radical newspaper. Throw in a ruthless German spy, plenty of real historic figures, and familiar characters from the previous book and Donnelly has created a Dickensian story that circles the globe and is intense and entertaining.

My thoughts: As a conclusion to the Rose trilogy, The Wild Rose definitely satisfied my questions about the story and my hopes for the characters we met in the previous books. I don’t think it would work well on its own, though – in order to enjoy this book, you really should read The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose first.

Donnelly excels at writing historical fiction – she clearly does her research and she weaves it seamlessly into her plot. The bibliography for The Wild Rose is seven pages long, which is amazing for a work of fiction. I liked the history and characters in The Wild Rose, but not as much as I loved those in The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose. I absolutely loved the couples from the first two books (Fiona & Joe, Sid & India), but Seamus and Willa were both too self-absorbed and selfish for me to really care for them much. I wanted them to be tough and determined, but they both seemed to spend an awful lot of time whining about their fate and then doing whatever they wanted without care for who might get hurt.

The dramatic plot twists and secondary characters kept the book moving quickly, and every famous WWI-era person from T.E. Lawrence to Winston Churchill showed up at some point. In fact, the famous-person-showing-up-to-add-a-dramatic-twist thing even got a bit much after a while. It works because of the epic scope of Donnelly’s work throughout the trilogy, but I preferred the focus on the Finnegan and Bristow clans. I know there aren’t any more Rose books planned, but Donnelly sets up the character of Katie Bristow so well that I’d love to see her get her own book. Regardless, I’m excited for whatever Donnelly has planned for us next.