Published by William Morrow on March 20, 2018
Source: the publisher
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“The Wild Inside is an unusual love story and a creepy horror novel — think of the Brontë sisters and Stephen King.” —John Irving
A promising talent makes her electrifying debut with this unforgettable novel, set in the Alaskan wilderness, that is a fusion of psychological thriller and coming-of-age tale in the vein of Jennifer McMahon, Chris Bohjalian, and Mary Kubica.
A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.
But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.
Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.
It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.
Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I wish I could adequately put words to how much I truly love The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury. I have dreamed of Alaska my entire life: visiting there, living there, experiencing the wilderness in a way that I just haven’t been able to yet. But when I opened this book and started reading Tracy Sue Petrikoff’s story, I was as close as I have ever gotten.
Minus a few things.
Tracy is a little bit of a strange one. She is a teenager living with her father and brother outside of a small Alaskan village, basically in the Alaskan wilderness. Her entire life is the outdoors: hunting, trapping, her dogs. She loves racing them and dreams of competing in the Iditarod like her father. The problem is, money, because the entry fee is expensive, and the strange issues with a man they call Tom Hatch.
Tracy met Tom in the woods one day. Not on purpose; she literally stumbled upon him. This was really weird since she typically goes days, weeks, sometimes months without seeing a single soul out there. But out of the woods Tom came one day, sort of flinging himself onto her body, which caused Tracy to fly into a tree and black out from the force of the hit. When she woke up, her knife was bloody and there was a bloody trail leading back into the trees. It is possible-even likely-that Tracy stabbed Tom Hatch in self defense. But why doesn’t she remember it? And where is he now?
HERE’S THE THING: Tracy never tells her Dad about this encounter in the woods, which is such a bad idea. Because it starts a mighty cascade of events that honestly never seems to end for her. One thing after another happens that causes one lie after another lie, and every unfortunate thing seems connected in some way or another. But is it? I felt like everything would be connected, but I wasn’t sure exactly how. And above everything is Tracy’s dream of racing her dogs. With her safety and the safety of her entire family at stake (because of Tom!), Tracy has to seriously consider whether or not she will continue with the race.
FIRST OF ALL: Holy cow, Tracy Sue Petrikoff is a hell of a character. I love her. Which is interesting, because I’m not entirely sure that I’m supposed to love her? She is wildly different than any other person around her, so there is no practical chance for her connect with other people in any real way. Not really. Also, she is grieving her mother’s death in the most intense way possible, and this drew me to her. Her mother was the only person she felt connected to, and now she is gone. And in her absence, Tracy realizes that she truly didn’t know her mother as well as she thought, which is always such a heartbreaking thing. I wanted to reach through the book and just hug her so tightly.
But Tracy held everyone at arm’s length. She has her reasons for this, and MAN they are crazy and appropriate. They are kind of otherworldly, actually. This girl is almost feral. She is nearly wild. Her father barely knows what to do with her most of the time, but he loves her fiercely. I think many readers may find themselves completely aghast at Tracy and her behaviors, but I really felt myself endeared to her overall. Her behaviors and the way she was raised are not her fault, you see, and I found that if I just read the story from her point of view, she was super interesting.
There are other characters in here that add to the story. An interesting crowd. There are some things that come up in the narrative that I wasn’t expecting at all. So many things happened that made me talk out loud to these characters and try to will them to change their minds or change their courses of action, but alas that was not to be. I was particularly moved by Tracy’s father in his effort to just be a Dad, living in a harsh place and also living in the in-between a place of grief after losing his wife and his hope for a new possible relationship. I love the awkwardness of his interaction with Tracy, how he tries so hard but still just doesn’t really know how to reach his grieving, teenage daughter, and vice versa with her; they’re both stuck in such a difficult place. And this ultimately lead to an end that just oh my gosh, my heart.
The Wild Inside is so beautifully written. I just cannot believe some of the passages on the inside-I marked so many of them. I read chapters, and then I read them again. And I marked sentences and whole paragraphs because I felt transported by them. And then suddenly, on the next page: I cringed at something a little gross or weird! This isn’t just plain literary fiction-there is so much suspense on these pages. I felt it down to my bones while I was reading. But at the same time, I felt the beauty of the landscape and everything about the main character while I read. I have loved everything about this book.
The author’s use of setting clearly is taken from her living in Alaska and I love it. I love it so much that I was in tears at the end of the book. I don’t know-maybe you’ll feel the same way. But I could barely speak by the time I got to the end. I just-
I have to own this book in every format. I have to listen to the audiobook, because I need to hear Tracy speak in her not-at-all-correct way of speaking. I need to hear her thought processes out loud. This is like a coming-of-age of a girl that is not at all someone that normal society would deem appropriate or okay, but that I have a lot of empathy for. I found a ton of beauty in this story and in the language that was used to build it, which was interesting to me given its horror/thriller categorization by other readers. I’m not entirely sure this review is cohesive because I struggle a little bit with organizing my thoughts. Just know that this is my favorite book this year so far. This will take a coveted spot on my top shelf. I have literally sat here clutching this book as I read for the past few days, enamored, white-knuckled, and I am already ready for so much more from Jamey Bradbury.