Series: Beware the Wild #2
Published by HarperTeen on February 23rd 2016
Genres: young adult, paranormal
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Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for . . . forever. Name any ghostly swamp figure and Candy will recite the entire tale in a way that will curl your toes and send chills up your spine.
That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. Even though she and her friends entered the swamp at the start of summer and left it changed, Candy’s the only one who can’t see or feel the magical swamp Shine. She’s also the only one who can’t see the ghosts that have been showing up and spooking everyone in town ever since. So Candy concentrates on other things—real things. Like fighting with her mother and plotting her escape from her crazy town.
But ghosts aren’t the only newcomers in Sticks, Louisiana. The King family arrives like a hurricane: in a blur and unwanted—at least by Candy. Mr. King is intent on filming the rumored ghostly activity for his hit TV show, Local Haunts. And while Candy can’t ignore how attracted she is to eighteen-year-old Gage King and how much his sister, Nova, wants to be friends, she’s still suspicious of the King family.
As Candy tries to figure out why the Kings are really in town and why the swamp that had previously cast her aside now seems to be invading every crack in her logical, cynical mind, she stumbles across the one piece of swamp lore she didn’t know. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may have all the answers . . . and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.
This series keeps getting better and better. It took a little while to get going, but once it did, the story was great! I loved being back with these three girls, and everything about their friendship in Beware the Wild came back to me immediately. And yet the recapping never slowed the pace or felt out of place. It takes a skilled author to summarize previous books and not make it come off awkward and stilted. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so many books, but it’s always very obvious me, to the point where it feels like the author is in my ear, saying, “Okay, I’m going to summarize the last book now. Prepare yourself.” But when it seamlessly blends like this one does, I’m impressed.
Behold the Bones was about Candy, Beware the Wild was about Sterling, so will the next book (if there is a next book) be Abigail’s? If so, I am really looking forward to it. I like Abigail a lot, and since she is gay, I’m looking forward to a lesbian romance. There was a little of it in Behold the Bones, and I am here for it, because it was angsty and wonderful.
I really, really love the world building and the atmosphere in these books! The Shine, the swamp, the everblooming cherry tree, the town of Sticks, the Lillard House, GAH. I love it all. I’ll read anything this author writes. This book just cemented it for me. I liked Beware the Wild a lot, but I wasn’t COMPLETELY convinced by the plot. I liked it a lot, but something was off for me that I could’t pinpoint. But after reading book two, my mind has changed. The world building that was not completely explained makes a lot more sense now, and I am over-the-moon passionate about these characters. And the swamp, because the swamp is a character too. A multi-layered character that’s full of surprises.
Also, I love that Candy Pickens was an unapologetic bitch. She is who she is and she makes no excuses for it. She’s badass, a little judgmental, and a bit of a cynic. I realllly saw myself in her at times. She’s also incredibly funny and I loved being in her head. She’s probably one of my favorite protagonists ever, and I didn’t realize it until I was about halfway through the book, but then I decided that I really loved her. She was genuine and I liked that she wasn’t your typical strong heroine. Natalie Parker really excels at characterizations.
I was worried for a while there that all the plot elements weren’t going to come together, but they did. The one thing I didn’t like, though, was how long the book took to get going. The plot didn’t truly rear its head until about thirty percent into the book. This would be a problem for some, and it’s usually a problem for me as well. But since I was really into the tone of the book and the characterizations, I stuck with it. It’s enough for me to knock a star off the book though, because the pacing was a little up and down. I also feel that this book didn’t have as strong of a story arc as book one did.
I do appreciate that the author did some unconventional things with the romance(s). And when it works out, I’m always ready to applaud. It’s not as if you don’t see it coming, but it was still fun nonetheless. So if you are into creepy ghosts, town legends, and the Deep South, this would be the series for you. I’m not sure if this is a trilogy or more, but I am invested and I love it, so I will continue to read!