Series: Beware the Wild #1
Published by Harper Teen on October 21st, 2014
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.
This book was a complete surprise to me. I was looking for a duology to pick up for my series challenge, and this stuck out because I’ve been sitting on the arc for a while now. I had no real expectations but I picked it up anyway and I’m so so happy I did. Beware the Wild completely blew me away in every way possible.
Beware the Wild has a very southern gothic feel to it. The atmosphere is just incredible and it completely sucks you in. The oppressive summer heat, the humidity of the marshes, the everyone-knows-everyone’s-business claustrophobia of a small town. The dangerous swamp creeping at the periphery. The beautiful writing just makes you feel like you’re there with the characters, like your own boots are stuck in the muddy waters of the swamp, and sweat is trickling between your own shoulder blades.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve read anything with such tight storytelling. Everything was perfectly paced and all the plot points just flowed together perfectly. Seriously, Natalie C. Parker is the kind of author who makes me want to be a better writer. I wouldn’t call this an action-packed book, or even say that it ran at a breakneck pace. But the suspension was on point, and I could not stop turning the pages. There was not one point throughout the entire book where I felt the story came to a lull and I can’t really say that about many books. I think with how perfectly constructed and paced this book is, it’d be the perfect thing to get you out of a reading slump.
Amazingly, with how fast-paced the story is, character was never sacrificed. I really loved the main character, Sterling, and the vast amounts of development she showed as the story went on. She started out under the constant protection of her brother; she was frail and commanded by fear and incredibly insecure – not with looks or anything like that, but insecure about whether or not she could actually take care of herself. I can’t even describe the subtlety of each step she took toward being the person she was at the end of the book. There was no huge, monumental moment where she went from meek Sterling to badass Sterling. It was a quiet endeavor that packed a serious punch.
I absolutely loved how Sterling treated Lenora May, the entity that came from the swamp in place of Sterling’s brother, Phin. Lenora May is clearly the enemy, having stolen Phin’s life and all of the town’s memories of his existence, and yet Sterling treats her with compassion. It was so new to me and so surprising. Compassion is the facet of strength that is not often covered in fiction, or real life – it’s considered weakness and “feminine” but that’s bullshit. It showed a different sort of Strong Female Character that was so refreshing and so, so appreciated.
Like I said earlier, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading – this was a book that flew under my radar so I was able to go in without any outside influence, and then it blew my mind. I cannot wait to jump into the sequel/companion – though it did not end on a cliffhanger or anything like that at all. I’m just really ready to be captivated by Parker’s writing and characters once again.