Between Wild and Ruin by Jennifer G. Edelson
Publisher: Bad Apple Books
Publication date: December 2020
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Truth, like love, isn’t always obvious.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby Brooks has never had a boyfriend. After moving to small-town La Luna, New Mexico following her mother’s untimely death, boys aren’t even on her radar. Ruby just wants to forget the last horrible year and blend in. But when she discovers an ancient pueblo ruin in the forest behind her house and meets Ezra, a bitter recluse whose once-perfect face was destroyed in an accident he won’t talk about; Angel, La Luna’s handsome sheriff’s deputy, and Leo, a stranger who only appears near the ruin, Ruby finds herself teetering between love, mystery, and other worlds. What happened to Ezra’s face? And why is she so attracted to the one boy in town everyone despises? As Ruby unravels her own connections to both Ezra and the pueblo ruin, she’ll learn surfaces are deceiving. Especially in the heart of New Mexico, where spirits and legends aren’t always just campfire stories.
About the author:
From the author’s website: In a Godzilla-sized nutshell, I grew up in Los Angeles, dropped out of high school, rebelled the hell out of my teens, and spent a couple of rocky years dabbling in everything from car stereo sales, to animal rescue, to scalping concert tickets, to waiting tables. After quickly learning that limitations suck, I went on to complete a B.A. in Fine Arts-Sculpture with a minor in Criminology at the University of Minnesota and later, a J.D. in law school.
I received a digital copy of this book from BookSirens. All opinions shared are 100% my own.
I have read other fantasy fiction set in the American Southwest (check out the Shards of History series by Rebecca Roland). For that reason, I wanted to love this book. With all the awards (see below) it has won, I had high hopes. I did enjoy looking up the landmarks mentioned throughout so I could get a sense of what the landscape looked like. Unfortunately, I did not love the book. The world-building was lacking and rushed. Relationships were shallow… and rushed. The main character was a series of opposite personality traits that didn’t really mesh. I don’t regret reading the book. I did consider reading the second in the series (though other reviews I read for it changed my mind on that front).
While I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it either. It is an interesting setup. I just wish it had been fleshed out more and less rushed when the “big reveal” came. Fantasy always asks us to suspend our disbelief but this took that suspension request a little too far. There are likable and loyal supporting characters and the history of the area is interesting. I would recommend it for anyone who loves the Southwest and magical realism (and doesn’t mind love triangles - another miss for me).
** First Place Winner — Young Adult Fiction: 2020 Arizona/New Mexico Book Awards
** First Place Winner - Young Adult Fiction: 2020 National Federation Press Women
** Gold Medal Winner (First Place) - Young Adult Mythology/Folklore; 2020 Reader's Choice International
** First Place Winner - Young Adult Fiction: 2020 New Mexico Women's Press