The Wolf Road
Available July 5, 2016
A reward poster reveals to seventeen-year-old Elka that the man who raised her for the last seven years is not the father she’s hoped for him to be. The poster unlocks details of memories Elka kept suppressed, and she knows she can no longer deny the truth of the monster he is. With a vengeful law officer hot on the trail, Elka knows she can’t return home. Her only choice is to push north, toward the place she keeps locked in her heart, the place her mama talked about in her last letter. The journey spans hundreds of miles of unforgiving wilderness, and Elka will need all her skills to survive everything nature can throw at her. But the deadliest enemy hunting Elka isn’t a beast, but the very man she once hoped loved her.
This novel is a bit darker than the books I usually read. What drew me to it was the psychological elements of the story: Elka’s suppressed memories and the real reasons her adopted father tracks her through her quest. I loved that the story didn’t follow a straight shot from the revelation that the man was a serial killer to his capture.
The Wolf Road wasn’t so much about the violence but about its effect on Elka and how she viewed the world. She didn’t realize how much her views were skewed until she broadened her community to include others. I think that’s an important message—that we need others in our lives to sort of check and balance us. There’s never a moment in the story where the author says, okay, here’s the real message, but it came through loud and clear, which I definitely appreciated, and certainly isn’t an easy feat.
The violence was a difficult hurdle for me, since I’m super sensitive to that. I liked that Elka feels consistently horrified by those moments. If you know me at all, you know I really struggle with stories that seem to revel in a killer’s cruelty or insanity. I can’t handle that. But this story didn’t do that, which made the scenes easier.
Elka’s character definitely felt real and three-dimensional to me. Sometimes I forgot that she was seventeen, but I feel like even that was appropriate. I feel like the incredibly sheltered life she’d lived would have matured her in some ways and left her stunted in others—and that definitely came through on the pages of the story.
This novel is probably not for the faint of heart, but if you like intense stories and wilderness survival, it’s probably right up your alley. See below for more specific content information.
Elka meets a black man and his son in her travels. She becomes close friends with him and his sister. There are hints at romance between Elka’s companion and the man.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency.
Romance/Sexual Content – TRIGGER WARNING
A man tries to rape Elka. She fights back, but it’s clearly traumatizing. Elka and a friend find themselves sold by a human trafficker. It’s unclear what Elka’s companion has had to endure before Elka finds her, but she knows how to use her body to manipulate men.
The story takes place following what might have been a world war that some refer to as the Rapture. Elka takes more of her grandmother’s view of it, referring to it as a big stupid event.
At one point, she’s captured by a man who intends to perform some kind of spiritual ritual sacrifice which he believes will ensure a mild winter.
The Wolf Road contains intense violence. Elka hides from her adopted father, who tracks her like an animal. It’s unclear whether he intends to kill her, but she knows he’s killed others. At one point he says some pretty creepy stuff to her, like about how her skin would make a nice pair of boots. Elka hunts and kills/prepares meat for her dinner. A man captures Elka for a ritual sacrifice. Elka stabs a man more than once in self-defense.
As the story unfolds, Elka remembers more and more about her life with the man who adopted her. Some of the details are pretty grisly. The man murdered and dismembered his victims—usually women and sometimes children—sometimes eating them.
A man drugs Elka without her knowledge.