Publisher: William Morrow (March, 2018)
Publisher: William Morrow, Reprint (December, 2018)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Tracy Petrikoff was almost literally born to be wild. She made her entrance into the world in the doorway of her family’s kennel, with twenty-two pairs of canine eyes watching. The howls and barks of the sled dogs were her first lullaby. She inherited her father’s skill with the dogs, driving a sled team as soon as she could stand, and, like him, she became a champion musher. The Petrikoff kennels were known for their excellence far and wide.
From her mother she learned how to communicate with nature, assimilating the essence and strength of the animals and birds she trapped or befriended. She spent most of her days roaming the woods and fields around her family’s cabin. Being trapped within walls was torture; an attempt at sending her for formal schooling was a disaster. Her younger brother Scott was her complete opposite, calm and studious. The two had a strong bond regardless of their differences.
Things changed the night her mother died, struck down while walking on the road late one winter night. Tracy’s dad was broken by the loss. She found solace in the woods, Scott in his books. Two strangers later showed up, bringing further changes. One was a large, sinister man whom Tracy may or may not have stabbed. The other, young Jesse Goodman, came to rent the spare room and stayed to work for the family. He seemed almost too good to be true, and Tracy was sure he was hiding a big secret.
While her father and brother began to heal, Tracy became more and more paranoid. She was sure someone was coming to punish her for her own secret. Despite her better judgment, she began to fall under Jesse’s spell, believing that the same menacing stranger was out to get him as well. Tracy descends ever faster into a terrifying abyss with no bottom in sight, dragging those around her down with her. The ending is shattering, but inevitable.
The writer has created a fusion of intense psychological thriller with a coming-of-age story that is as unique as the Alaskan wilderness that shapes Tracy. There are also elements of horror and the supernatural, all blending into one marvelous story. This is Ms. Bradbury’s debut novel, and I predict she will become a major talent. Highly recommended.
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