Series: Fantasyland #1
on August 15th 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Source: Personal Copy
Also in this series: The Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland, #2), Fantastical (Fantasyland, #3)
Seoafin "Finnie" Wilde was taught by her parents that life was meant to be lived, every breath was a treasure and to seek every adventure she could find. And she learns this lesson the hard way when they perish in a plane crash when she's fifteen. But she never forgets and when she discovers there is a parallel universe where every person has a twin, she finds a witch who can send her there so she can see her parents again and have the adventure of a lifetime.
But nearly upon arrival in the Winter Wonderland of Lunwyn, she realizes she's been played by her twin of the alternate universe and shortly finds herself walking down the aisle to be wed to The Drakkar.
Instantly thrown into inauspicious circumstances, with years of practice (she did, of course, survive that elephant stampede, if she could do that, she can do anything), Finnie bests the challenges and digs into her adventure. But as Frey Drakkar discovers the woman who is his new wife is not Princess Sjofn, a woman he dislikes (intensely) but instead, his Finnie, a free-spirit with a thirst for venture just like him (not to mention she is his destiny), without her knowledge he orders his new bride bound to his frozen world, everlasting.
Also by this author: The Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland, #2), Fantastical (Fantasyland, #3)
Wildest Dreams was a fun fantasy book that read like a mash-up of Disney’s Frozen and Beauty and the Beast – with DRAGONS and ELVES! (Note: Wildest Dreams was published in 2011, long before Frozen’s release. Maybe Kristen Ashley should contact Disney regarding some legal-ish stuff? Hmmmm….)
Finnie is Elsa from Frozen, complete with an Arendelle-esque Winter Kingdom
Finnie Wild travels to a parallel universe – where everyone has a twin – to find the doppelgangers of her long-deceased parents. Like Elsa, parallel universe Finnie is a blond hair, ice-blue dress wearing princess minus magic. Lunwyn was an idyllic Winter Wonderland, reminding me of Swiss Ski Chalets and Norwegian fjords. I’ve never experienced winter-world setting before and like Finnie, wanted to explore the little towns and cities via sleigh.
Frey Drakkas is like the Beast, both pre and post transformation
Frey started out as a rough and intimidating character, abandoning Finnie at his hunting lodge only hours after their wedding. I understood his dislike, considering he had little in common with alternate universe Finnie and had no idea that Finnie had swapped places with her. Frey gradually realizes Finnie isn’t the women he thought married and morphs into a generally good guy (despite some high-handed mistakes) and regrets her original mistreatment.
About that star rating…
Kristen Ashley has a cult-like following and original storylines, but I struggle with her writing style. Part of this could be personal preference; however but a few stylistic issues prevent a perfect 5-star rating. Specifically:
- Finnie came across as a 16-year-old valley girl rather than a late 20’s/early 30’ish woman due to her vocabulary. There were scenes where Finnie’s constant use of ‘Cool’, ‘Awesome’, and ‘Hot’ ruined otherwise beautiful moments. Skimming other Goodreads reviews shows I’m not alone with this call-out.
- There is an overabundance of detail. For example, there is a four-page description of Finnie’s wedding outfit, including the dresses’ sleeves, neckline, waistline, train, and overlayer, plus her hair, jewelry, crown, undergarments, and bustier. It was excessive enough that I found myself occasionally skimming paragraphs.
- After a long first 400 pages, the last 100 felt rushed and too light on plot development. I perceived gaps in the story line; however, these could be purposeful omissions in order to leave room for the remaining four Fantasyland novels.
Wildest Dreams is a fun weekend read despite being a little too long and detail oriented. The world building was fun and unique. I’d recommend Wildest Dreams to Kristen Ashley fans, but suggest those unfamiliar with the author sample the book before purchasing to make sure they enjoy the writing style.