Author: Natalie C. Parker
Release: October 21st 2014
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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.
Beware the Wild is a remarkable debut and Natalie C. Parker’s defining work. It speaks volumes about this young author and about all the things we can expect from her in the future. It is precisely the type of book I’m always hoping to read: gorgeously written, slightly weird, completely original and even daring. There aren’t that many YA authors whose writing easily takes my breath away. I’m always hoping to add another one to the list, and today I finally have.
Parker’s debut novel is hauntingly atmospheric and absolutely gorgeous. The mood of this book is similar to that in Brenna Yovanoff’s or Tessa Gratton’s works, but Parker's writing style is different enough to make the whole thing stand out. It is so easy to get lost in Sterling’s story despite the many dangers lurking right behind the fence. All it takes is a single page for us to get lost in Parker’s beautiful and compelling prose.
Sterling only ever loved and needed her older brother Phin. He was her rock, this boy who saved her from their abusive father, protected her for years from every fear and insecurity. He is her protector and best friend, so when he disappears, Sterling’s world collapses. To make matters worse, when Phin gets lost in the swamp, no one but Sterling can remember him. In his place is Lenora May, a lovely girl and Sterling’s older sister, at least according to everyone else. But Sterling can’t forget the brother she once had, even if she also has memories of this new girl, of growing up with her, hiding from their father, whispering secrets while growing up. But what is real and what is the result of some strange magic? Is Sterling the one who is delusional or is it everyone else?
Then comes Heath, a boy Sterling likes.. He’s also lost someone to the swamp, and no one but him remembers. While they search for their loved ones desperately, a romance slowly develops, but it never gets in the way of their search and what is truly important. The romance worked very well for me; it kept things interesting without overtaking the plot, and I liked seeing Heath and Sterling together, their relationship was simple, beautiful and natural.
As I mentioned before, this is only Parker’s debut, and she already shows so much maturity and promise. She joined Yovanoff, Stiefvater and Gratton on my auto-buy list, and I fully expect her to stay there for years (and many more novels) to come.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.