My Rating: 4 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: Just like the swamp of Sticks, Louisiana, Natalie C. Parker’s Beware the Wild lures you in and then refuses to let go. Within a few chapters, I was thoroughly captivated by the setting and its impact on the characters.
I loved the swamp! At first, I thought Sterling was exaggerating about its danger and wasn’t sure whether her brother, Phin, ever existed; but over time, the swamp’s presence subtly began to take over the book. As more and more people disappeared and their loved ones forgot about them, it became clear that not only were the townspeople of Sticks right to be deathly afraid of the swamp, but that their various superstitions were no longer keeping them safe.
In the midst of this is Sterling, a realistic character with flaws and weaknesses. At the beginning of the novel, Sterling is very dependent on Phin for protection and security – so dependent in fact that she develops an eating disorder from the stress of thinking about her brother moving away for college. However, once Phin disappears into the swamp and doesn’t return, Sterling has to muster up the courage to overcome her fears in order to find Phin since she's the only one who remembers his existence.
Sterling’s love for Phin also meant that I enjoyed the romance because she never got carried away by intense romantic feelings. Her top priority always remained finding her brother. As a result, the romance, despite being a little fast, never overwhelmed the plot. Sterling’s involvement with Heath made sense as well because they had both lost someone they loved to the swamp, and had been interested in each other in the past.
Finally, although the secondary characters in Beware the Wild remained firmly in the background, I found them to be very well-developed. For example, in spite of spending little time with characters like Phin, Lenora May, and Fisher, I was still able to learn their hopes and dreams and find out what motivated them.
A debut that’s particularly recommended for fans of Victoria Schwab's The Near Witch, Beware the Wild will be released by HarperTeen on October 21, 2014.
Comments About the Cover: The dark cover and the blurb are perfect for the creepiness of Beware the Wild!
In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.