Beware the Wild: Review

December 4, 2014 2014, 4 star books, creepy, Gothic, Kim, paranormal 24 ★★★★

Beware the Wild: ReviewBeware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Published by HarperTeen on October 21, 2014
Genres: gothic, paranormal
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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four-stars
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.

 

 

Well, this book was one deliciously creepy treat. It’s the sort of book that wholly transports from the first pages and ensnares the reader into its darkly magical web. At its best, the  gothic aspects of this story reminded me of Strange Sweet Song and its dark fairy tale feel brought to mind Cuckoo Song. Those are two of my favorite books of 2014 and I do not make the comparison lightly!

Sterling Saucier (what a tremendous name, btw) is dealing with loss on several fronts. Immediately, her brother has disappeared into the town’s mystical swamp. Years earlier her alcoholic and abusive father left their family. Of course, his departure was not without significant scarring itself for both Sterling and Phineas. And the repercussions of that departure echo throughout the story.

I was quite struck, actually, by how this was both a paranormal novel and a contemporary “issue” book. There are many paranormal enemies lurking about in that swamp, but just as many human ones as well. And the book is equally about dealing with the demons within as it is the demons without. I have to say I want to make a content note as Sterling is dealing with an eating disorder and occasionally flashes back to memories of her abusive father. In the hands of a less skilled author it might seem like the book has taken too much on, but I promise you all is balanced with a deft hand and has actual importance to the plot.

I loved Sterling. She most certainly is not bad ass in that warrior “take no prisoners, I will gut you way.” Rather it’s the much more realistic and quiet way of a normal teenage girl who can accept the love for her brother and her friends and draw her strength from that. Sterling’s strength is very much an emotional one and her growth and development throughout the book is a delight to behold. There is no damsel in distress here. The only person who is going to save Sterling (and her brother) is Sterling.

And now we come to the romance. I liked the romance! I truly did. This book wouldn’t’ve had a chance of making it to 4 stars without a worthy ship. Heath is a strong, silent type which is my favorite. Where I might get a bit nitpicky is that we don’t get to see as much of the “getting to know” each other stage as Sterling and Heath already have a history. But he’s a good guy and there are some moments of genuine swoon. He even asks if he can give that kiss!  And a rather, er, juicy scene set in a sun soaked peach orchard. ;) As always for me I’ll grumble a bit when romance takes the backseat in a story but I know most people don’t want it overshadowing the plot and I’m happy to inform that is not the case here!

I have to admit I was wavering between a 3.5 to 4 on this book. What finally drove me to give this 4 stars was the strength and beauty of the writing. Parker is tremendously skilled at creating the tense small town atmosphere that is brimming with secrets.  I almost flat out refuse to believe this is a debut novel. I will eagerly line up to read anything she writes in the future.

This book was like the swamp between its pages, a living thing. And its roots crawled into my soul by moonlight and refused to let go.

 

 

 

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 Responses to “Beware the Wild: Review”

  1. Wendy Darling

    I had zero awareness of this book, but I am definitely interested in this now because of you! Interesting to hear there are a lot of dissenting opinions about this one–that actually makes me more curious about it, since as I repeat like the most broken and cracked of all records, some of my favorite books are the most polarizing ones.

  2. Ellen B

    Ooh, I was going to pass on this one, but I’m pleased to say you’ve knocked the book back onto my TBR! I do love the state of Louisiana ad so I’m looking forward to the setting of this one.

    Great review! Excellently worded!
    Ellen B recently posted…Review: The Dinner

  3. Leandra Wallace

    This is another that’s on my want to read list. Geez, I feel like that’s all I ever say. =( I’ve done horrible at reading lately, as I feel like I barely have to write and when I get a free minute, that’s what I’m doing. Anyhoo, I love stories set in the South, and if it’s creepy, even better! And so far I’ve liked romances where they were all ready known to each other. I like seeing the familiar blossom into something more.
    Leandra Wallace recently posted…WIP Tag & Good News

    • Kim

      Lots of redeeming qualities! I’m honestly shocked to see this one wasn’t so well received! I thought it was gorgeous and darkly glittering and I loved it.

  4. Carina Olsen

    Noooo. I am mad at you for liking this book, lol :D Just kidding. <3 I can forgive you. Maybe. But.. hmph. I really disliked it, lol :p it was a two star for me. And.. I really, really disliked the writing :\ sigh. But. I do understand why you liked it, Kim :) Well. Okay. Maybe not :D But I do like that we have different tastes. <3 Thank you so much for sharing your awesome thoughts about this book :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…The Scorpio Races

    • Kim

      Whaaaaat haha. I find this so shocking! I thought the writing was beautiful beyond belief! My goodness. It just goes to show how subjective reading is! No two people ever read the same book and all that. I know it was slow in parts but I’m a sucker for sibling stories. And food porn. This book had a lot of that!

    • Kim

      Ha I always relish the romance. *sigh* It’s usually pretty much all I care about in a book. Oh the main character had great development? Oh we’re fighting a brutal dictatorship and there are heavy/important themes? Lalala! Don’t care there’s a ship!” That’s pretty much me. Whoops!

    • Kim

      Yes! A magical almost sentient swamp. The swamp has these mystical tendrils of light that created some of the most beautiful imagery in the book. So good!

  5. Melinda Christensen

    It does sound creepy but intriguing, Sounds like one of those that grab you from the beginning.

    • Kim

      I immediately felt like I was sitting on that car with Sterling in the muggy Lousiana heat. It’s a very vividly described book. Also lots of food porn. And I’m a sucker for that.

    • Kim

      Yayy! You won’t regret it! It’s so darkly magical and creepy but with a strong romantic core. It was great!

    • Kim

      I have to say I’m very surprised to hear about the mixed reviews! I thought this one was a lot better than the vast majority of YA I’ve read this year. Strong MC, gorgeous writing, and a startling lack of cliches.

  6. Pili

    I’ve heard a few mixed reviews but I’ve been quite drawn to this book and the paranormal creepy elements, and it’s on my wish list! If it doesn’t end up under the tree, I will for sure be getting it for myself come Jan!
    Fantastic review Kim! I’m happy to hear that Sterling is the “self-rescuing” kinda damsel and that the romance is present and sweet but doesn’t take over the plot and the book!
    Pili recently posted…2014 Debut Author Giveaway Hop!

    • Kim

      I’m so surprised at the mixed reviews! I thought it was so gorgeously written that even when it was slow paced in parts the atmosphere and the romance more than made up for it. I feel fairly positive that you’d enjoy this, Pili! Sterling was great. Her development was awesome and I loved watching her learn to rely on her own strength. Geez, I’m thinking I might be a “white sheep” here!