Sunday, October 26, 2014

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

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.

My Thoughts:
I saw this book and immediately fell in love with the cover. It’s haunting and it’s beautiful.  Just like I imagine the swamp would be in Sticks, Louisiana.  I finished it a little over 24 hours after I started it.  I need more books like this!!  This book is like a modern-day, dark, American fairy tale; very well written, eerie and beautiful at the same time.  The poetry on the pages separating Parts 1, 2, and 3 is simple, yet beautiful.  I’m assuming it is original to the author, as I couldn’t find it anywhere on the interwebs.  It brings to mind a nursery rhyme that mothers would probably use to try and dissuade their children from entering the swamp.

Beware the Wild immediately sucks you into the backwoods town of Sticks, Louisiana, where people go missing and just as quickly, no one even remembers them.

Sterling and her brother Phin (short for Phineas) get into an argument, during which he takes a swing and hits the carport post beside her head.  Considering that in their childhood, they dealt with an abusive father, this is pretty disconcerting.  Phin takes off into the swamp and soon after, a girl comes out.  Lenora May inserts herself into Phin’s, taking over it and no one, except Sterling, seems to notice.  To everyone else, it’s business as usual because Lenora May has always been there.  That’s what the swamp does.  It erases the memories of the victims from their families.  Sterling refuses to surrender to this mind control and commits Phin to her brain.

The next day at school, Sterling goes to Phin’s friend Cody and asks him a direct question about Phin.  Surprise, surprise: Cody has no clue who/what she’s talking about.  Everyone treats her like she’s crazy.  Well, everyone except Heath.  Heath and Sterling were working towards going on a date about a year ago, then Heath just kind of dipped out for reasons that become clear and understandable later in the story.  Heath assures Sterling that he believes her because he remembers his friend Nathan, whom no one else remembers, not even Sterling, until Heath says his name.

Together, they begin to form a plan to get Phin and Nathan back.  Lenora May has plenty of helpful information to offer, but Sterling initially refuses to accept.  After all, she did take her brother’s life.  The plan doesn’t work initially and Sterling realizes that she has to accept Lenora’s help once they have a little heart-to-heart.  With Lenora May’s help, and the help of a reluctant believer, they just might come out of this intact.

With elements like the Wasting Shine, the charms, the vivid imagery, the beautiful writing, and the Southern charm, it’s very easy to fall in love with this book.  The true definition of a page-turner.

Sexual Content: Mild (kissing)
Violence: Mild 
Langauge: Mild to Moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: Mild to Moderate (smoking and drinking)

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