I had a sales rep from Ingram put this new novel in my hands at SIBA last month. When I picked it up to take a peek the other day, well, I didn’t put it down.
THE WILDLANDS begins with the most horrific portrayal of a cat 5 tornado landing in a small town in rural Oklahoma. My heart is actually pounding just remembering it. Four siblings run and hide in the cellar of their farmhouse while a tornado of monumental power hovers over their home and completely destroys it and everything in its path including all their animals and even their father. They never found any of the bodies.
While hiding in the cellar the two oldest siblings get into a fight. You see, Tucker tries to pry open the door and go after their father. But his older sister Darlene keeps him from leaving. Thank God, because he surely would also have been “disappeared” just like every other living thing. But Tucker is never the same after the storm. Something in his psyche has gone awry.
While Darlene steps up and gives up her future to raise the kids, Tucker sets out on his own leaving his three sisters to fend for themselves. But in three years time Tucker returns. And this time it’s truly to the scene of the crime. He convinces Cora who is nine now to come along with him on a trip into disaster. Cora is captivated by her older brother and anxious to go with him. He’s wildly entertaining even as he descends deeper and deeper into something quite sinister. He’s become an animal activist. But not in a good way. Off they go on a trail of violence and terror and slowly Cora begins to realize that this is not good.
I truly felt as if I was on a roller coaster racing into the unknown. This book is a nail-biter, a page-turning literary thriller, and a helluva read. I read it almost nonstop. The ending will totally blow your mind.
I love animals. Am totally against animal cruelty. But this is an over-the-top example of animal activism gone wrong.
Abby Geni’s first novel THE LIGHTKEEPERS was the winner for the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction. When I saw she is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I knew this novel would be a force.