Everyone in Sticks knows to stay away from the swamp. It’s not just the ‘gators and snakes you have to worry about, in this swamp people disappear. Sterling and her brother Phin have been raised to fear it and avoid it at all cost. It was their grandfather after all who helped build the fence that protects the town. But when Phin storms off one morning, heading over the fence and straight into the one place they’ve been told never to go, Sterling fears the worst.
And then someone comes back. Someone – not Phin – climbs back over that fence. That someone is Lenora May, a girl everyone believes is Sterling’s sister. And Sterling is the only one who still recalls Phin was ever part of their lives.
I liked Natalie Parker’s debut, bordering on loved – but not quite. Beware the Wild is a fun premise, but I felt like there should have been more development. The characters were thin and both the small town feel and the overbearing creepiness prevalent in a swamp like this one (can you tell this Louisiana girl is not a fan of swamps?.) were missing.
The Shine, however, was a completely unique aspect to this story and the plot was kind of dark, as a southern gothic should be. In the end, Beware the Wild was entertaining and almost – almost – lived up to its promise.
11/14 Becky LeJeune
BEWARE THE WILD by Natalie C. Parker. HarperTeen (October 21, 2014). ISBN 978-0062241528. 336p.