Beware the Wild
by Natalie C. Parker
Expected Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Length: 336 pages
Obtained Via: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss from the publisher. I was not compensated for this review, and this is no way affects my opinion of the book.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View at the Traffic light:
It’s an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp — the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn’t return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.
Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance — and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.
This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.
I tend to stay away from books that hype up a “southern” setting. I’ve read plenty of books in the south that I’ve liked(and I’m from Texas, so, you know. . .) but for some reason “southern literature” tends to just grate on my nerves. I saw how much focus was on the setting for Beware the Wild in the blurb, but I decided to take a chance–and for once, it worked out. I thought I could feel the sticky, humid air on my skin while reading. It was incredibly atmospheric and transported me straight to Sticks, Louisiana. It was one of those reading experiences where my couch and living room faded away and I was as knee-deep in the muck of the swap as Sterling was.
Before reading I thought Beware the Wild would be a bit of a creepy read, but while it was atmospheric, creepy isn’t the word I would use. Unsettling, perhaps. There’s almost a folk-lore or fairy-tale like quality to the story, amplified by the town’s history with the swap. As Sterling tries to figure out the mystery of the swap and her brother, she learns about the town’s history and her own family’s history with the town.
There are some strange things that happen in Beware the Wild, but I was so caught up in the story I didn’t even realize until after I was done. And, of course, I’ve been known to like strange books. Sterling was a bit of an enigmatic character at first, but I came to find her endearing, especially seeing how much she cared about her brother. The sibling factor is played up a lot in Beware the Wild, as it plays into Lenora May’s back story too. I would say Beware the Wild is about siblings at heart.
About halfway through, it seemed like Sterling was making good progress with her quest to save her brother from the swap and I was a bit unsure. It felt like it was all playing too convenient, without enough conflict. Well, I certainly got my reader’s wish in the end. Nothing was as cut-and-dry as it seemed at the beginning. Early on, Lenora May appears completely villainous, sacrificing Phin to save herself from the swap. Sterling is understandably unsettled as everyone remembers Lenora May as Sterling’s sister and all Sterling can see is a monster. It becomes clear, though, that’s there’s some humanizing aspects to Lenora May. Beware the Wild flips character perception a LOT, and I loved the book a little for it.
Based on the blurb, I was expecting the romance to be a bigger part of the book than it was. The romance definitely took up some page time(including a few awe-worthy moments), but it never overshadowed the story of Beware the Wild like I was afraid it might. It’s also a romance that starts with two people coming together for a common interest, which is the romance I feel I tend to like more in books than just attraction. Sterling gets a LOT of stuff thrown at her in Beware the Wild and she definitely needs the support.
If you like atmospheric reads that have a folklore quality, I highly recommend Beware the Wild. It wasn’t really what I thought it would be at all. The paranormal aspects had a dreamy, hazy quality to them and the setting was painted wonderfully. While the plot seems pretty simple from the beginning, I enjoyed the journey.
Beware the Wild was definitely a different sort of story. It’s a book filled with atmospheric writing and characters that still don’t want to leave my head. 4/5 cupcakes.