SYNOPSIS: Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he's taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.
But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He's a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.
Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper's drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn't left Trapper behind--and he won't be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she's going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she's been set on.
The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape--told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.
GENRE: Fiction, thriller, post-apocalyptic
READ-ALIKES: Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Dean Koontz's Intensity, Peter Heller's The Dog Stars
RATING: ★★★★☆ 4/5 stars
Thank you to Dayle for the chance to tackle this read and guest review on the blog! It's been a pleasure. As a newcomer to ARCs, it's still a little thrill to put a physical reviewer copy on my shelf.
And what a surprise this novel was! If you're a fan of psychological thrillers, I think you'll love this addictive and brutal read. Like, in a dark way.
The Wolf Road is a post-apocalyptic suspense story in the vein of a revenge western - think The Revenant meets The Road. It's a strong debut novel, gripping and beautiful at the same time. Beth Lewis also has a great nose for cliffhangers, and never lets the tension up after beginning her first chapter in medias res.
Elka, the incredibly willful 17-year-old protagonist, treks north into unknown territory with a terrifying monster stalking her trail. As Elka faces one horrible threat after another, I believe Lewis is commenting on the constant and repeated violence threatening the female gender in society. Time and again Elka trusts a stranger only to then discover their harmful intentions. Even the terrain and weather are dangerous, ruined by the reckless actions of generations past.
But Elka is a real badass, and a terrific voice to lead us through this journey. She has absolutely no one to rely on, and forging any new worthwhile connections seems almost impossible. That is, until a chance encounter with someone quite different from Elka lights a spark of hope in the proverbial tinder box.
If I have a criticism, I'll say that some readers may have an issue with a few twists of fate in the plot. But I honestly wasn't bothered by the choices.
The Wolf Road explores stories of suppressed traumas and shame, of survival, forgiveness, and redemption. Lewis asks the reader: do you believe humans are capable of symbiosis with the earth? With one another? If not, perhaps we're each truly alone in this world.
Again I'll say: thriller fans? Check this one out.
Review by Casey Beck
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