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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Wraithwood by Alyssa Roat is the first book in the Wraithwood trilogy. When Brinnie's parents announced they were going to take a trip to visit her sister and help refugees, she assumed she would be tagging along. Turns out, her parents had other plans for her to spend her summer. For the next few months, she will be staying with an uncle she's never heard of that lives in an isolated estate and has the strangest name. Brinnie knows she's in for a long boring summer, especially when her Uncle Merlin doesn't want her to wander around the estate. She soon discovers that everyone is keeping secrets and as she works to uncover the answers, she discovers the shocking truth about her own family. Soon a secret that her own parents have kept from her comes to light. The truth sends her headlong into dangerous terrain when she learns that magic is real and a dark threat grows closer.
Alyssa Roat brings a fresh take on Arthurian legends through a modern tale with notable names such as Merlin, Morgana, and Mordred. The story moves away from the heroic feats of Arthur and focuses on the perspective of the wizards. Roat captures the aesthetic and personality of a small group with their misconceived idea that Merlin is a witch to distrust. Brinnie never knew her uncle existed which builds estrangement immediately in their relationship with them starting from the beginning to get to know each other. Roat puts a unique twist on wizards and creates a new version of Merlin. The story has a lighthearted tone with humor throughout. Certain personality traits attributed to Merlin are woven into his personality with a bubbling attitude and a laid-back perspective on the townsfolk that gossip about him being a witch. The Arthurian elements are ideal for fans of Arthurian legend and Merlin with a familiar enemy in Mordred that delivers a dangerous threat against Brinnie. She has a role similar to that of Arthur as the one trapped in the middle with the threat of Mordred on her shoulders and everyone around her wanting to keep her out of harm's way. Wraithwood is a magical and notable retelling of Arthurian legend that comes to life through the charming Brinnie and her Uncle Merlin.