Natalie C. Parker
Paranormal Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.
Beware the Wild is a story that breathes life into a setting and makes it a character unto itself, the swamp running through Sticks, Louisiana as layered as those individuals who fear to step foot across its threshold. Though we haven’t grown up with Old Lady Clary’s stories as Sterling and her brother have, we still can’t help but be instantly wary of the swamp, wanting to reach out and restrain Sterling every time she moves to cross the fence line and search for her brother. Its menacing presence keeps us on edge throughout, both fearful of what we might find if we travel through it with Sterling, but even more so of what might happen if we turn a blind eye and keep our feet firmly rooted.
Sterling is a young woman who shows a great deal of growth as the story unfolds, beginning this journey so dreading the moment her brother Phin leaves her behind to attend college that there’s no room in her stomach for anything other than fear and nerves, but she ends it knowing she’s strong enough to conquer whatever life throws her way. It takes the extreme circumstances of Phin’s disappearance for her to finally look outward rather than solely inward, seeing for the first time how she’s allowed her relationship with her brother to change in ways she’s not entirely proud of, and the moment the Sterling-centric fog clears, she owns up to her every mistake and works on setting herself and her various friendships to rights.
Woven through Sterling’s supernatural path to repairing rifts both internal and external is a sweet romance with Heath, a longtime friend with whom she had a falling out. Their relationship is delightfully drama-free and secondary to the mysteries and dangers of the swamp, giving us just enough light to keep the encroaching darkness at bay without shifting the entire story’s focus to the two of them. Sterling does have the tendency to wander into the swamp without waiting for Heath, the only other person who actually believes her about Phin, but it’s hard to work up any real frustration given how upfront she is with him about what she learns.
Overall, Beware the Wild is entertaining and atmospheric, showing us just how much strength and power-–good or bad–comes with believing.
This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.