Author: Natalie C. Parker
Publication Date: October 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Beware The Wild is a murky thriller that I really enjoyed. The swamp, that boarders many houses in the small southern town of Sticks, LA, is its own character completely as well as the Shine, small lights of magic that blink and dance to those who are special. I loved the setting, the slowly broken fence, keeping the swamp at bay. The dark wet and decaying swamp with large, drooping plants and trees blocking out the light. I can see so clearly the cloudy water, the dangerous creatures, the gnarled tree roots and branches warning visitors.
The swamp infiltrates the tone of the book, seeping through the words and out of the page until you feel the humidity and the darkness.
Sterling lost her brother to the swamp. Phin ran in earlier that morning and what comes out is NOT Phin. But the townspeople don’t remember her brother. They only seem to remember her new sister, Lenora May. A sister who has Phin’s memories and Phin’s car.
Sterling, feeling solely responsible for driving her brother away and therefore the only one who can rescue him, starts researching her town, the old tales of magic and the swamp beyond. She is resourceful, smart and totally flawed. I love her. She has an eating disorder which is well portrayed, but does not overshadow the plot. Instead, it adds layers and vulnerability and realism to this girl who has real life problems. Lenora May is complicated, perhaps untrustworthy? perhaps a liar? I liked how Sterling fought her feelings for Lenora May over and over, constantly having to remember her brother. She is a fighter, even when everyone tells her to forget about Phin. She doesn’t. She does more than that. She fights to save him.
Heath is also a great character. Okay, he’s the love interest, but the love story doesn’t complicate or take over the story. Instead, it adds a touch of sweetness to Sterling’s life and gives her a partner in crime. Heath is troubled. A bad reputation and a once good boy is seen as someone the townspeoples’ daughters should steer clear from. But Heath’s loyalty is true and as Heath is one of the few people who believe Sterling, as he had someone he loved disappear into the swamp, he is less of a knight in shining armor and more of a steady helping hand. I liked that there was no insta-love. I liked that their relationship grew from friendship and pain and vulnerability. I liked that Heath’s journey was just as interesting as Sterling’s and the once frightened boy helped save the day.
I don’t want to give away too much on what happens in the book. Know that there is a lot to enjoy in this creepy thriller. There is magic and alligators, creatures and swamps. There is love, different kinds, some healthy and some not and family. There is danger and destruction and lore.
There is wildness.
Rating 9 Ridiculously Awesome, like Cookies and Ice Cream