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 starts off slowly and shakily, with hints of a changeling-like story, then progresses to a mystical place that draws in people like quicksand. Sterling’s brother ran off into the swamp, and his place a girl emerged, one who seems to fit in immediately within the town. Sterling slowly realizes that the swamp and the magic of the Wasting Shine can alter the very fabric of reality, which explains why the people don’t remember the one who have lost. In her quest to retrieve her brother is her ally Heath, a guy whom she had a crush on, but then he changed. While she is sort of immune to the powers of the Shine, she is not powerless against it. There is a darkness in the Shine, that is responsible for the disappearances, and she tries to look for a way to fight it.
The book, in atmosphere, is well-written. There is foreboding, secrecy and intrigue, like a Southern Gothic. The swamp and Sterling’s ill-planned forays into it make it a very dangerous place to be, but also a bit like Wonderland. The pacing, however, throws off the enjoyment of the book – it is inconsistent, and I am caught between the romance and the intrigue, which don’t complement well. The main characters are kind of dull, but Lenora May (who is a secondary character) and Candy (she too) shined the most. Their stories were the most interesting, and I am especially intrigued in Candy’s abilities. Overall, it grows on you, so I think its 3.5 stars from me.
Received a free galley from HarperTeen, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.