The comparison between The Wolf Road and True Grit meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road isn’t far from the mark. I can easily imagine the Coen brothers adapting this horror of a western set in a post-apocalyptic version of a kill or be killed future. That means that readers will find the setting cinematic in its detail, the characters dynamic in their conflicts, and a story that is equal parts contemplative and bloody minded action. I gave it five stars, and fellow reviewers on Goodreads are giving it high marks as well. It doesn’t seem fair to give you a glimpse of this book and then tell you it doesn’t publish until Tuesday, July 5, but it is one that I can definitely say is worth the wait for fans of westerns and the end times.
True Grit meets The Road in this postapocalyptic psychological thriller–narrated by a young girl who has just learned that her adopted father may be a serial killer, and that she may be his next victim.
In the remote wilds of a ravaged land, Elka has been raised by a man who isn’t her father. Since finding her wandering in the woods when she was seven, he has taught her how to hunt, shoot, set snares and start fires–everything she needs to survive. All she knows of the world outside is gleaned from whispers of a cataclysmic event that turned the clock back on civilization by a hundred and fifty years and reduced governments and technology to shambles, leaving men at the mercy of the elements–and each other.
Everything changes when Elka learns that the man she has been calling father is harboring a terrible secret. Armed with nothing but her knife and her wiles, she decides to escape his clutches and sets out on a long journey to the frozen north in the hope of finding her long-lost parents.
But as the trail of blood and bodies grows in her path, Elka realizes that daddy won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, she’ll have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about what he’s turned her into.
Elka, the narrator is a strong and distinctive voice that is pitch perfect for the duality of her character. She is both a no-nonsense, determined survivor and a victim seeking redemption and revenge, a mix that has always found favor in westerns. She isn’t the only character that has a satisfying complexity, either. Villains and allies have that blend of vulnerability and steel that make the population of this desperate world come alive. While I found some lulls in the action, the time was used to develop surprising traits and revelations about the people I thought I knew, and I read them as eagerly as I read the bloody and violent battles for survival. Frankly, I found it hard to put this book down, and I think others will as well. Language and violence make this more of an adult novel than a YA, but the narrative perspective and the themes make for a story that will hit home with teens despite and perhaps because of the brutality inherent in the tale.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.