True Grit meets The Road, directed by Quentin Tarantino. That may or may not help you get an idea of what this is like! 4/5 stars.
The blurb: Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.
But 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.
I put this on my TBR after reading several positive review on other blogs (sorry I can’t remember which ones now… but thank you!). And there is a lot to like about The Wolf Road. From the first sentence Elka’s narrative voice is vibrant and compelling. Indeed, at the heart of the story are three excellent female characters: women who are pragmatic, resourceful and able to put aside their differences to reach common goals. The post-apocalytic setting is almost beside the point: Elka’s story takes place a good while after the nuclear war which set civilization back and it’s our heroine’s specific experiences which are centre-stage; the wider context is only of interest to the extent that it affects her and her choices. The narrative moves at a good pace, as Elka’s physical journey driving the story forward.
The following criticism is highly personal, and I’m sure it’ll be something that will draw many readers to the book rather than put them off! The book is structured deliberately to keep readers gripped with most chapters ending on a cliffhanger or comment along the lines of, “Things seemed to be looking up. And of course that’s when everything went to hell.” For many readers this would be great, but after a while I found that the endless cycle of “life-threatening situation, 2-minute break, hellish situation, 1-minute break” became exhausting and I started to take longer and longer breaks from the book to recover. Perhaps if the book had been shorter, or the more peaceful sections had been slightly longer, I wouldn’t have had this problem. But, as I’ve said, I suspect this is a highly personal issue!
Overall: a compelling survival story narrated by a strong female lead. One for fans of dark thrillers who don’t mind the stress of reading about their heroine experiencing a long string of life-threatening events!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul