Something Wicked Strikes Day #20! We are entering into the third full week of all things Wicked, and I assure you we are just getting started. There are still some amazing guest posts and giveaways to come. You won't want to miss it.
Here are the must visit stops for today:
Candace @ Candace's Book Blog: The Shadow Lantern by Teresa Flavin
Today, I have creepy good book set down in the swamps of Louisiana. Sterling and her family live on the edge of the swamp. The swamp is an area that no one goes into, and if they do they either don't return, or they come back changed. Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument which causes Phin to run off into the forbidden swamp. A few house later, a girl emerges, and she claims to be Sterling's sister. All traces of Phin are gone. Sterling is the only one who knows he existed. Sound creepy? I have author Natalie Parker here guest posting today, so let's meet her:
Natalie C. Parker grew up in a Navy family where having adventures was as common as reading fairy tales. She received her BA from the University of Southern Mississippi, her MA from the University of Cincinnati, and currently works at the University of Kansas coordinating projects on climate change. Though still baffled at having ended up in a landlocked state, she resides in Kansas with her partner in a house of monsters. Beware the Wild is Natalie's debut novel. To find out more you can visit Natalie on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Goodreads.
Please welcome Natalie:
What type of villain do you fear the most?
Answering this question is going to give me nightmares. Very sincere nightmares for the very sincere reason that I have a very specific answer. I do my best to never think of this person. Excuse me, this character. The very thought of this character sends shivers down my backbone and leaves me with the desire to run very far, very fast.
Okay, enough of that. Here is my answer: Christopher Eccleston as Major Henry West in 28 Days Later. He represents the type of villain I think is the most deadly: The Fanatic.
The Fanatic is terrifying because they have devoted themselves so completely to a cause/belief/philosophy that they no longer engage with rational thought. They have no use for it. It is a gangrened limb they amputate without a whimper – Without a whimper! – because they’ve learned to function without reason.
There are other villains who are incapable of reason. The Zombie, for example, is devoid of…basically any thought, but I find them less terrifying because there is no expectation that they should be capable of reason. Their motivations are no more complex than insatiable hunger. And I can deal with that. I can run from that.
But The Fanatic…? They’re a different sort of walking dead, a giant parrot with flaming wings. You should be able to convince them that the ice caps are melting, but they have shut down the part of their brains that deals in logic. All they do is repeat their doctrine over and over and over and over.
In essence, The Fanatic is a Flow Chart of Terror in which every arrow leads away from your general well-being. If you fall into the clutches of The Fanatic, the thought process goes something like this: ‘Do they serve my fanatical needs? If yes -> suffer them to live. If no -> kill them with fire.’
It’s this adhesion to binary thinking that makes them so capable of cruelty and I just don’t think the world gets more terrifying than people who privilege doctrine over humanity.
That’s precisely what motivated Major Henry West. He was so committed to his goals that he was willing to make others suffer for them. In many ways, he was more monstrous than his co-stars, the giant horde of fast-as-cheetahs zombies. Eccleston’s performance is both utterly convincing and utterly chilling.
And that is why I was for several years quite thoroughly traumatized by Doctor Who. Thank goodness for Tennant or I may never have seen Rose Tyler’s full journey.
I totally agree, Natalie, a fanatic whether real or fictional is truly terrifying. They are capable of swaying the masses and creating chaos with their beliefs. Think of the fanatics in history that have caused horrible deaths and devastation...... A very thoughtful post. Natalie comes with a chance to win an author swag pack. One winner will receive a magnet and your choice of bookplate (alligator or cherry blossom)
plus a paperback copy of Beware the Wild (U.S./Canada only) courtesy of Harper Teen. Big thanks to Harper Teen for providing the paperback giveaway. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. Good Luck!
Here is my review:
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
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.
Four Stars: A gorgeously written, creepy atmospheric read!
Sterling's skin sticks to the hood of Phin's Chevelle. Even though the metal is burning her bare legs, Sterling refuses to budge from the car. She has been out there staring at the swamp for hours, hoping against hope that Phin will come striding out of the swamp. It is Sterling's fault that Phin jumped the fence and disappeared into the swamp. They were fighting, and in a fit of rage, Phin left. Hours later, a strange girl comes strolling out of the swamp. Her name is Lenora May, and she claims to be Sterling's sister. What's worse, every in the town has no memory of Phin. Lenora May has taken his place in everyone's minds except Sterling's. Did Phin ever exist? What is hiding in the swamp?
What I Liked:
- Beware the Wild is a breath of fresh air in the YA genre. This is a beautifully written, creepy atmospheric read that is exciting and original. It avoids the well known cliches and tropes and provides something truly unique. If you are in need of something fantastic and unusual, grab this one.
- At the heart of the story is the sinister swamp. For generations, the small town of Sticks has butted up next to the swamp. Everyone in town seems to instinctively know that there isn't something quite right about the swamp, and few folks dare to traverse into its dangerous terrain, and if they do, they return either not quite right or not at all. The town built a fence between its boundaries and the swamp. To make sure the swamp doesn't creep into town, folks place all kinds of beads, baubles and shiny stuff on the fence to protect them. I loved the creepy, suspenseful atmosphere of the town and the swamp. It is one of those small towns where everyone is hiding the truth, and you get the vibe that something isn't quite right. I love these unsettling type of settings, and Ms. Parker does an excellent job of creating suspense with the town and the swamp.
- Sterling is an easy character to like. At sixteen, she is head strong and feisty, and she loves her brother fiercely. So much so that she is willing to do anything, even dare to enter the swamp in search of him. I liked how she never backed down when it came to retrieving Phin, and how hard she fought to save him. She has plenty of courage.
- Lenora May was a character who ended up surprising me. Once the truth came out about her, I was drawn to her. I loved the way that she and Sterling ended up bonding, and I liked that she took me by surprise, I wasn't expecting to like her.
- The romance is simple and pleasant. It avoids love triangles and insta love situations as well as drama. Sterling and Heath had flirted with one another and even broached the idea of going out over a year ago, and then Heath backed off and began acting strange. When Phin disappears, he is the only one who believes Sterling. The renew their friendship and during the course of the book, a small romance develops. I liked that the romance was realistic and that it didn't overtake the plot. The romance is more of a side note than a main focus, which worked for me. If you are looking for a breath taking, swoon worthy romance, you might be disappointed, but again this book has so much more going for it than the romance.
- The ending was complete and satisfying. All the loose ends were wrapped up and resolved. This appears to be a stand alone, which is nice, but if a sequel is in the works, I am all for reading it. Rest assured, there are no cliffhangers or nagging questions at the end.
- For all of you who like a bit of creepy but not over the top scary, this story is perfect. It provides plenty of eerie vibes and an unsettling atmosphere, but nothing that will make you hesitant to turn the lights off at night.
- The writing is gorgeous. Ms. Parker proves that she has mad writing skills, and I am eager to see what she does next. This debut is most impressive.
And The Not So Much:
- I am a reader who needs the details, and I think this story faltered a bit over lack of detail. For instance, throughout the story, there are small revelations regarding Sterling and Phin's turbulent upbringing. They were beaten and abused by their alcoholic father. There is a mention that their Grandpa drove their father away, but nothing more. I wanted to know so much more about the siblings' backstory. What happened to their father? When did he leave? What role did their Grandpa play?
- Another nagging point for me was the whole thing regarding the Clary family. For generations, the Clary family has recorded and kept the tales and secrets of the swamp. Old lady Clary seems to be in the know when it comes to all things swampy, but when she is confronted with questions she either provides cryptic answers or clams up. I was itching to know so much more about the Clary family, and how they knew so much about the swamp. I guess I just wanted more of their swamp stories.
- Once the truth about Sterling's grandpa comes out, I had a few questions. What happened to the grandpa after the swamp encounter? He obviously married and had children but was he ever quite right? I would love to know more of the Grandpa's history, and how he died.
- The pacing at times was either to fast or too slow. As I mentioned, the book tended to gloss over some of the more interesting and important facets of the story, and then it got bogged down in the middle while Sterling spins her wheels a bit wondering what to do. This isn't a big issue, just an observation. I found myself wishing for more back story and less floundering around in the present.
Beware the Wild is an entertaining and original novel. If you are needing something slightly scary with a strong mystery set in the swamps of the South, I highly recommend Beware the Wild. Ms. Natalie Parker is a strong story teller with impressive writing skills. I am a fan, I will certainly be picking up her next book.
"Secrets are never so dangerous as when they've been forgotten."
"You can't go judging what other people've been up to based on your own personal scale. The thing only goes from easy to slut."
"Fear doesn't protect anyone. Fear only makes us more vulnerable when we should be finding ways to be strong."
"Music is where we sing our hearts for others to hear."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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