Publisher: The Borough Press (Harper Collins)
Publication Date: EBook and Hardback 30th June 2016
I’ve read some good books, and some great books. The Wolf Road surpasses both of those descriptions. This isn’t just a book, it’s an experience. It had me listening to every word our lone narrator spoke about her isolated existence in the woods with her elusive guardian. I say listening, as when I was reading the most fascinating, well-written dialect wormed its way into my brain until her personality was firmly embedded. Not once did she lose the unique, feisty tom-boy character she had developed into every time I opened the cover.
Elka is our plucky young lady’s name and she had my undivided attention as she told her tale of survival against the odds. Having the strong voice needed to convey everything her story had to offer she takes the most challenging circumstances on the chin. Each time she unearths an appalling fact along the way she briefly reflects by applying her unique brand of wisdom to the situation.
An eerie sense of alarm radiates from page one where you realise that a run in with a wolf or a bear is nothing compared to the stench of the something sinister that’s been occurring. When the penny dropped I felt for her dearly, but was truly horrified at the same time. It was the last thing I was expecting to discover at the end of The Wolf Road!
Elka’s real troubles started when she was approached by a magistrate asking her if she recognised a face in a wanted poster, she said his name was Kreager. As the menacing lady started to explain there was a killer on the loose and it’s not moose they’ve been hunting, Elka realised just how dangerous the woods could be. She may not know anyone called Kreager, but imagine her horror as she recognised the man’s face – it was Trapper’s, the man she’d known as her daddy since she was seven years old.
Creeping doubt of his innocence took hold until I sure as hell didn’t know what to think either! All Elka believed is that her real parents could help her, but they’d their sights set on mining for gold and had never returned. On her perilous journey to track them down Elka found she couldn’t escape Trapper, as his face was bearing down on her from the posters in every town. Yet this primitive man looked out for her, he couldn’t be the wanted man everyone is looking for, could he? The only way to find out for sure would be to ask him – an impossible task as the woods are his friend; no one can find him, not even the law that hunts him day and night.
Ironically, Elka has the Trapper’s basic parenting skills to thank for her survival – in the woods and beyond. The scenes of when the knife is her only friend are as sharp as the blade itself, yet it’s balanced with bites of humour stemming from Elka’s ‘wade right in there’ outlook on life. On route, she finds herself a kindred spirit or two when she becomes the reluctant companion to a complete stranger, and forms a bond with an enigmatic wolf cub whose fleeting appearances offer clarity when all seems lost. If that’s not enough, a brooding showdown is played out to perfection.
The Wolf Road is a unrelenting journey of discovery in a place where the truth is as harsh as the elements. An event referred to as the ‘Damned Stupid’ left an altered world in its wake and I sensed every shadow, heard the snap of every twig, and saw Elka’s misty breath rising in the cold air as she speaks of her expedition into unchartered territory.
I simply cannot express the enormity of just how magnificent this book is – it’s positively superb.
I don’t much like roads. Roads is some other man’s path that people follow no question. All my life I lived by rules of the forest and rules of myself. One of them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path.
(Huge thanks to the publisher, who provided a glorious ARC of this title in exchange for my honest – if somewhat fan-girly – review.)
A debut literary thriller from an incredible new voice [I second that!]. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? Perfect for fans of STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel.
Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.
So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.
Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.
Beth Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has travelled extensively throughout the world and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and Great White sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, fire performer, juggler, and is currently a Managing Editor at a leading London publisher.