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Behold the Bones (Beware the Wild) Hardcover – February 23, 2016
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“Practical motivations combine with a witty, inventive narrative voice, creating one heck of a heroine. Shines with spooky Southern charm.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“The creepy, oppressive atmosphere from the first book is just as well drawn here, and folklore weaves with horror to create a gripping read.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
About the Author
Natalie C. Parker grew up in a navy family in which having adventures was as common as reading fairy tales. Though the roots of her family are buried deep in southern Mississippi, she currently lives in Kansas with her partner in a house of monsters. Beware the Wild is her first novel.
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I'm still liking this series. The first book was tied up so well with all evil vanquished and swamp magic contained and love achieved provisionally, that I had no idea how the author could keep interest going.
Foolish me to doubt. The first book introduced Sterling and her two friends, Abigail and Candy. This book includes Sterling & Heath in supporting roles, but its all about Candy. And how she still can't see Shine-- the magic of the swamp-- and now ghosts are appearing all over Sticks and she can't see them, either. Well, except for one. Who happens to share a dark secret with Candy. And then there's Candy's...female....troubles, and some new, ghosthunter family moving into the old house Sterling used as a sanctuary and Candy figuring out how to deal with various boy-types in her life.
But its mostly about Candy kind of confronting her own life as well as maturing a little bit within the context of her friendships with Sterling and Abigail-- which is why I love this series. So the swamp magic haints and stuff are a creepy icing, but they are only the icing. The "meat" of this cake, if you'll allow me to mix metaphors, is the compelling, self-doubting, sometimes-arrogant voice of Candy and how she deals with everyday stuff.
And as other reviewers probably mentioned, in this book they aren't all white and they aren't all straight. And while these things aren't used overly to generate angst and drama, they are mentioned and dealt with in the context of a Southern town, which I appreciated. No white washing here.
My only quibble (and the loss of .5 of a star) is that the ending is abrupt. Major, major trauma goes down at the end of the book. I felt like we didn't get a chance to understand and deal with Candy's reaction to what happens to her in the swamp as well as what happens to her relationship with the ghosthunter eyecandy. It's all just suddenly okay.
Can't wait to find out what happens to Abigail in the third book.
The arrival of the King family certainly adds drama to the plot. Their wanting to use her on the paranormal footage they are gathering, as well as her recently diagnosed sterility, both add to Candy’s alienation. She feels isolated and burdened with her heritage, and the story is her coming to terms with that. Her friends Sterling and Abigail are her rocks, and how the dynamic between them changes is well-written. While the story was certainly different and interesting, I did not like the pacing of this book either. It was too slow, and almost everything of importance happens in the last quarter of the book. Not to mention the characters seem to be a bit inconsistent, or maybe their realization is. Either way, I did not enjoy this book as much as I would have.
Story: Candy is very much a part of her Louisiana swamp town - and she is still reeling from the aftermath of her friend Sterling's brush with the Shine in the swamp. Turns out, the Shine avoids Candy and everyone else sees the ghosts/haints except for her. When the supernatural dealings in the town make headline news, a TV ghost hunter moves his family in town with special sights on Candy and her unusual talent. Turns out, they have a secret agenda and want something very specific from Candy - something she does not want to give.
First and foremost, this is an urban fantasy (and not a horror or thriller). It's much more about the lives of the teens and their interactions with a bit of the mystical in the swamp. As with the first book, the whole "Shine" is ill defined and honestly kind of silly. But it's not really the point of the story so easily glossed over.
Where the book really stands out is that we don't have the usual assortment of straight white girls and their mysterious boyfriends. Rather, we have characters of several races and sexual orientations. Also, for once the girl doesn't go for the most obvious guy around! That was the real twist in the book - not Candy's abilities or the secret of the swamp.
This series has an interesting mix of characters who are very teen - conflicted, openly sexual, abusing alcohol and drugs, etc., and with a mix of social and health problems. Yet it never runs to maudlin or becomes dreary. If the 'bad guys' are a bit silly and underdeveloped, well, I have to admit that rather works in favor of the story to keep it easy to read and flowing. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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