Swamp mystery fans anyone? Beware the Wild is a mystery book through and through. There’s a heavy dose of supernatural fantasy all grounded in a contemporary setting. At the same time it’s a story about family, sacrifice, and love. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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.
TW: disordered eating, domestic abuse, child abuse
I’ve read Parker’s previous series, Seafire, and really enjoyed that pirate adventure. So when I was recommended Beware the Wild by Rebecca Coffindaffer, I was intrigued. And oh boy, if I wasn’t going to be wary going into a swamp before, consider it so now. I’ve never been that person who’s like, “let’s go exploring in that damp swamp where there may be ALLIGATORS”. But Beware the Wild has convinced me, even more so, to never be that person.
I think my favorite aspect of Beware the Wild has to be the suspense. It builds up slowly – so prepare yourself accordingly – but when it starts to creep in, it got me. The only way I can describe it is when a fog starts to settle around your ankles. And at first it’s no big deal. But then it reaches a point where the fear sets in. For me, reading Beware the Wild was a slow build up to that point, but when it got there, I was committed.
Parker delivers a story which manages to be both immediately unsettling while also having so much further to go. Because what else is going to be more disconcerting than remembering a brother no one else remembers. That gives serious horror movie vibes. In many ways, Beware the Wild testifies to the importance of origins. To realizing that where we come from matters. Our past matters. Additionally it’s a story about family and sacrifice.
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We can think we’re doing what is right for us, for our family, and be further from the truth. And what happens when what we want for our family, isn’t what they want? While Beware the Wild revolves around Sterling’s quest for her brother, there’s even more family discussions which creates layers within the book. It becomes even more generally about what we will do for the ones we love and to escape. Overall, it’s perfect for swamp mystery fans and those who love fantastical suspense YA books. Find Beware the Wild on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.