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The Wolf Road

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True Grit meets The Road in this postapocalyptic psychological thriller--narrated by a young girl who has just learned that her adopted father may be a serial killer, and that she may be his next victim.

In the remote wilds of a ravaged land, Elka has been raised by a man who isn't her father. Since finding her wandering in the woods when she was seven, he has taught her how to hunt, shoot, set snares and start fires--everything she needs to survive. All she knows of the world outside is gleaned from whispers of a cataclysmic event that turned the clock back on civilization by a hundred and fifty years and reduced governments and technology to shambles, leaving men at the mercy of the elements--and each other. 

Everything changes when Elka learns that the man she has been calling father is harboring a terrible secret. Armed with nothing but her knife and her wiles, she decides to escape his clutches and sets out on a long journey to the frozen north in the hope of finding her long-lost parents. 

But as the trail of blood and bodies grows in her path, Elka realizes that daddy won't be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she's going to survive, she'll have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about what he's turned her into.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published June 30, 2016

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About the author

Beth Lewis

4 books308 followers
Beth Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has travelled extensively and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and Great White sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, fire performer, juggler, and is currently working publishing. Her debut novel, The Wolf Road, was shortlisted for the inaugural Glass Bell Award and her third novel, The Origins of Iris was shortlisted for the Polari Prize. She lives in Oxford with her wife and daughter.

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Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,466 reviews9,621 followers
July 30, 2017

I sat high, oak branch 'tween my knees, and watched the tattooed man stride about in the snow. Pictures all over his face, no skin left no more, just ink and blood. Looking for me, he was. Always looking for me. He left red drops in the white, fallen from his fish knife. Not fish blood though. Man blood. Boy blood. Lad from Tucket lost his scalp to that knife. Scrap of hair and pink hung from the man's belt. That was dripping too, hot and fresh. He'd left the body in the thicket for the wolves to find.

It took me quite awhile to decide to read this book. I wasn't interested in books about a trapper, but this was seriously NOT what I was thinking, not one bit.

Elka was found by Trapper when she was seven-years-old. She had gotten swept up into a storm (literally) and dumped near his hut. He decided to keep her and teach her to live off the land. Elka thought of him as a father figure. Her parents had left her with her nana and set out to see if they could find gold in the North. Well things happened and she ended up living with Trapper for years. Until one day . . . the one day . . . she found out he was a killer. He killed women and boys and whatever he felt I guess. See, he not only hunted animals, he hunted people.

Elka found all of this out when he sent her to town to do some trading and there she saw a picture with Trapper on it. She couldn't read so she had no idea what it said, but a woman named Magistrate Lyon told Elka that he was a killer named Kreagar and she was looking for him. Elka didn't believe her of course and went back home but when the coppers followed her and found the shack and some grisley things Kreagar had locked up in a box, Elka had to believe. She was shocked, sad, disgusted, every feeling you could have with something like that.

Elka decided she was going to try to head up North and see if she could find her parents. It was a long shot it being so many years but she was set on doing it.

This is a story about Elka's journey and being trailed the whole time by Magistrate Lyon who thought she was in on the killings. Elka was trailed by Trapper as well.

Along the way Elka gets into some bad situations with people and almost with a bear! She did make friends with a wolf and my heart soared at that part.


Elka had some trouble when she got to a town and boarded a boat that a NICE man helped her with...yeah. Some more bad things happen but she also met Penelope whom she became close friends with and they helped each other. Penelope could read and had smarts about her and she helped Elka find her folks but it wasn't the great family reunion she was hoping for.

Elka and Penelope tried to eke out a living in a cabin in the woods but there's always trouble coming. The one good thing at the time that came out of it was that Elka actually talked to Magistrate Lyon and made a deal with her.

Penelope goes off to be with some other people and Elka is so alone, she hasn't seen Wolf in awhile and is afraid he has left her too. One day Penelope returns to give Elka some news. She was so happy to see Penelope but it wasn't to last. Penelope told Elka she had to go on the run again and it just made me so sad for this girl.

I mean, don't get me wrong, she's tough as nails. Really tough as nails and can fend for herself in the woods but she was so lonely all of her life. And she cussed like a sailor. I mean it was the backwoods and no one cared about that stuff. Elka was a great character to me and I loved her country dialect, it read perfectly for me because she sounds like the little boy that was in the movie "Sling Blade". I just loved her, it's that simple.

And just when Elka sets off alone . . . she finds that she's not . . .

*I would like to thank Blogging For Books for a print copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,908 followers
July 9, 2016
All I know is that one day all the maps became useless and we had to make our own. The old'uns called the day the Fall or the Reformation. Nana said some down in the far south called it the Rapture. Nana was a babe when it happened, said her momma called it the Big Damn Stupid. Set everything back to zero.

An event has happened that set the world back to a time with no technology. Mother Nature is boss and seven year old Elka learns the hard way when her Nana is 'lost' during a strong storm. Elka ends up in the woods alone and starving. She gets taken in by a reclusive man she calls Trapper. Trapper teaches Elka all he knows about hunting, trapping and survival. He makes sure she knows to stay away from any person that she might run across out in the woods.
He never lets her go with him on those late night wolf hunts though.

One day after Elka has lived with him for years she finds out that the man she calls Daddy is a serial killer. She takes off into the woods with just a knife to escape from him. Her parents had gone North when Elka was a baby to get rich from a gold rush. She heads toward North to find them.

Told in the first person the book is completely inside Elka's head. You might think that sounds boring but this book is anything but that.

Along the way Elka picks up a shadow in the form of a wolf that shows up when she seems to need him the worst.
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She also falls for a man's pretty face..
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She learns quickly to trust only herself.
Men got one hell of a weakness, and when it ain't their arrogance, it's the dangling bits.

She saves a woman from a bad fate and they tag up. Agreeing to try and keep each other alive.
Penelope didn't have no fat on her, no reserves for her body to live off 'tween meals. If that was the price for beauty and the desire a' men, well hell, you can keep it. Alive and ugly is better than pretty and dead.

They are followed by a woman law officer that is determined to bring in Elka and Trapper (who is following Elka on her journey.)

Elka's character is haunted by demons but you can see that she does what she needs in order to survive. She knows what she wants and goes about getting it.
Smell a' bacon.
Ain't nothing in this world like it. Salt-cured, sliced thick, line a' juicy fat crisping up in the pan. Anyone what tells you they don't like bacon is either stupid or lying. Either way that ain't no one you can trust.

This book is extremely dark and sometimes mystical. (There is my warning for the readers that are going to yell about how gross it gets)..Crap I loved this book! 4.5 stars!

Monsters ain't real 'cept in kids' imaginations, under the beds, in the closets. We live in a world a' men and there ain't no good come out of tellin' them they monsters. Makes 'em think they ain't done nothin' wrong, that it's their nature and they can't do nothin' to change that. Callin' 'em a monster makes 'em somethin' different from the rest of us, but they ain't. They just men, flesh and bone and blood. Bad'uns, truth, but men all the same.
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Booksource: Netgalley and bloggingforbooks in exchange for review.

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My friend Zoeytron's review is here..she didn't like it quite as much as I did..but I still luv her even if she read it wrong.

Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
April 8, 2019
fulfilling my 2019 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

in the “books i didn’t read in a timely manner olympics,” this one is in the running for “most shameful karenfail” medal, because i had this as an ARC, and it sounded so great, i meant to read it immediately, but never got around to it, and then when the hardcover came out, i loved the cover so much

i had to buy it even though i still hadn’t read the ARC, reasoning “well, maybe there were errors in the ARC and now i will read it as the author intended,” but i STILL didn’t get to it, and then when the paperback came out, i loved that cover so much,

i was tempted to buy ANOTHER copy, but i restrained myself because growth. 

and now, thanks to setting myself very specific 2019 reading goals, i have finally read it. and, yeah - it was as good as i’d hoped.

it’s a western-themed novel set in the now even more wildernessy wilderness of post-Event canada, where our young narrator elka discovers that the gruff man she only knows as “trapper;” the father figure who has been raising her for the past ten years, is more than just a facially-tattooed woodsy loner, he’s a straight-up monster; a wanted man named kreagar.

she’s been his ward and protégé since she was seven, when a storm (and storms are serious in post-Event canada) flung her more-or-less on his doorstep, separating her from her grandmother, with whom she'd been living since her parents left her to make their fortunes in the gold prospecting game, leaving her with only vague memories and a letter.

when elka inadvertently learns the truth about her surrogate father from a formidable lady-magistrate with a particular revenge-bone to pick with him, she decides to set out and find these long-lost parents; a journey through darkness and danger, where she will learn the truth about the world beyond trapper’s woods and (wait for it) AND ALSO ABOUT HERSELF.

if anyone needs taglines for lifetime original movies, i will be in my trailer.

it’s all the things i like: wilderness survival, vengeance, epic journeys across uncompromising landscapes, girls with potty mouths who are deadly with a knife - because say what you will about trapper - he may have raised her rough, but he raised her to survive in a world that barely managed to survive itself. but it’s also about nicer, softer things: coming of age and coming back to society and human kindness and trust. when elka meets penelope, theirs is a friendship born of literal life-saving exchanges, but they also have very complementary skill sets: elka has all manner of survival skills and animal instincts, but she’s never had to learn social skills, while penelope can read and navigate the ‘civilized’ world, and she knows how to manipulate; which is a wholly human trait elka’s only just learning about.

it’s a win-win book: one part cat-and-mouse manhunt with blood and brutality, one part finding a place in the world that doesn’t require quite so much blood and brutality. plus, wolves and backwoods philosophy:

I don’t much like roads. Roads is some other man’s path that people follow no question. All my life I lived by rules of the forest and rules of myself. One a’ them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path. No matter if that’s a real one trodden into dirt or all them twists and turns his life has taken.

it’s a gritty and funny and strong debut, and i would really like to read her second book, Bitter Sun, although it looks like it hasn't been published in the US yet, so i guess i can put it off for now AND THIS IS HOW THE SLIPPERY SLOPES HAPPEN!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews723 followers
August 24, 2018
Trapper was my family even though I didn't know a sure thing about him.... Trapper was the kind a'family you choose for yourself, the kind that gets closer'n blood. He was what I chose and I chose wrong....... An extraordinary novel - dark and funny and full of wild energy...

First novel of this author, Beth Lewis, and well worth reading.
It is an apocalyptic story, although it does not 'feel' that way and it is hardly noticeable, it is not the main part of the story.
It is a novel about a girl in the wilderness, escaping and then hunting 'Trapper', the man who saved her in the wilderness and took her in, the man who killed women and children...
Only comment I have is that I feel the book could have been edited to a bit more compact writing.
But other than that, a very entertaining, great story. Unusual, out of the box.
I think this author has more up her sleeve, looking forward to that.

'Underneath all that grime', she said, smearing a spot 'a dirt on my cheek with her finger, 'you're a diamond, Elka, clear and tough and priceless...'... 'But you don't know...' I said... in no more'n a whisper. 'I know enough', she said...
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 348 books97.6k followers
August 17, 2016
I found The Wolf Road to have a compelling and easy to read style. The protagonist is one of the strongest females that I've read, and I found how she survived several early traumas to be mostly believable. If you are looking for strong female characters, and a variety of them, you will enjoy this book.

This was a book that was hard to put down, even if it strained my 'willful suspension of disbelief' in several important places. Grounding a story in reality is very important to me, even when it's a fantasy or a futuristic tale. A bit more of that grounding, and this would have been a five star read for me. I know a lot of readers will be able to coast past the things that bothered me. For a fast and adventurous read, with unusual characters, this will be a good summer read for you.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,541 followers
August 21, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

True Grit meets The Road

For maybe the first time in the history of ever the powers that be got it right!

The usual suspects get the credit blame for me reading this one. It doesn’t take much more than that.

It’s been like 36 hours since I have either been told how stupid I am or personally confirmed said stupidity, so let me take a second to remind all of you. Between the title and the cover and the amount of time it took me to actually read The Wolf Road my pitiful little brain had decided it was going to be a story kinda like this one . . . .

I’m telling you. So dumb.

The Wolf Road is a real mind bender. Although you are told that the story takes place after “The Damn Stupid and the Second Conflict,” the world building consisting of the main character’s parents dumping her as a baby with her grandmother in order to participate in the gold rush and people living basically in wood shacks, with no electricity and hunting/foraging for food has your brain thinking of something like this . . . .

But after you get the description of man who “adopts” (for lack of a better term) Elka after her gran passes . . . .

It finally sinks in that this is a whole new Wild Wild West . . . .

You know, but not shitty like that one.

And thennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn when Elka finds out the truth about ol’ Trapper . . . .

“I suppose it ain’t what’s different now that’s more fearful,” I said, “it’s what stayed the same.”

I don’t even know what to say about this one. I can tell you it’s different from anything you’ve read and the only reason it’s getting 4.5 Stars instead of 5 is because I didn’t read it during the winter so I couldn’t quite get as cold and miserable as I should have.

ARC provided by Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,036 reviews672 followers
April 30, 2016
Copy furnished by Net Galley in exchange for a review.

Elka doesn't much like people. She don't trust 'em. Raised in the woods by a man name a' Trapper, all she knows is the wild. Her basic credo is one of common decency - leave the forest as you found it. Backward and illiterate, Elka is going to need to employ the use of every survival skill she knows when her world comes crashing down. Spare and gritty, this one.
Profile Image for Ɗẳɳ  2.☊.
159 reviews293 followers
October 11, 2018
With the world chock-full of assholes, I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to strive to play to my kinder gentler nature. One in which I’m less apt to point fingers whenever my friends lead me astray. Less likely to sling mud or poke fun or call names. Less inclined to suggest that everything’s ridiculous™. A new version of self where I can somehow resist the urge to belittle the trolls who posit opinions as facts . . . Naw, who am I kidding? Where’s the fun in that?

The Wolf Road is a post-apocalyptic story set in the near future. However, after the events of the “Damn Stupid,” that future appears more like our recent past - before the advent of electricity. The story follows Elka, a young girl passed off to her nana when her parents decided to head north in search of gold. For the next seven years, Elka and her nana eke out a meager existence in a rustic cabin in the deep woods until a massive thunderhead blows through one day and levels their home. Her nana was out for a walk at the time, and when she fails to return Elka seeks help. She knows the town is south and south is down, so she walks down every hill she finds until she’s horribly lost. Eventually making her way downriver to another cabin where she meets Trapper, a man who’ll become something like a father to her.

All of Trapper’s attempts to track down her nana prove unsuccessful, so he agrees to let her stay with him. He’ll teach her all the ways of the woods if she’ll help out around the cabin and try to pull her own weight. For the next ten years or so things go swimmingly until Elka travels to town one day and learns a disturbing secret about the man she thought she knew. A secret powerful enough to leave her reeling. And, with the law asking questions she can’t rightly answer, she reckons it’s time to pack up and head north in search of her real family. But the lawman’s questions won’t be put off so easily, and they’re not the only ones hot on her trail . . .

So, as you can probably guess from my introduction, this was another book that most of my friends loved, but of course I had a few issues with it. The main one being that the ending was given away in the first chapter. If you’re ballsy enough to telegraph things to that extent, you better blow me away with all the other elements of your story. You better dazzle me with your wordsmithing; amaze me with your character development; fool me with a twisty narrative and hidden reveals; rock my world with an earth-shattering climax and a tear-jerking resolution. Ah, maybe I was asking too much. Then again, this novel was marketed as “True Grit meets The Road”.

I also wasn’t a fan of the narrative style—a first-person account from Elka’s point of view. As an uneducated, naïve, and extremely isolated young forest girl she tells her tale in a backwoods slang which eventually began to grate on my nerves. Granted, my tolerance for slang seems to coincide with my overall enjoyment of the story. I’ve read many stories where it never bothered me at all, but here and in The Knife of Never Letting Go and parts of The Invisible Man that style annoyed me to no end.

Lastly, I want to briefly touch on character motivation. Sorry, but I just couldn’t buy into Trapper’s reasoning for hunting Elka, or several of his actions during the chase. Not to mention, with the law in hot pursuit, it would seem wise for Trapper to be hightailing it in the opposite direction.

This happened on page two, so it’s not much of a spoiler:

“Elka, you know I don’t mean you no harm.” His voice turned friendly. “I’d never hurt my Elka.”

He wandered around like a blind man, trudging through the snow, steam lifting off his body. Always hot after a killing. He was lean, carved out of wood some say, and but for the tattoos had a face you’d take home to your mother. He leaned up against a cottonwood tree, panting to keep the cold out, getting sick of hide-and-seek.

“Could a’ killed you a hundred times, girlie,” he said, slow. “Could a’ taken my pig sticker and cut you neck to navel while you slept. Could a’ peeled your skin off easy as boiled trout.”

I remembered all those years calling him Daddy and felt sick.

Bottom line: The story started with a bang then wound back the clock and spent the remainder of its time working its way back to the beginning. Knowing the outcome detracted from the enjoyment of the chase, and by the time the nasty revelations begin to flood in it was too little too late to salvage things for me.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,377 reviews1,434 followers
September 29, 2019
Elka grew up in a world where nuclear bombs fell from the sky and poisoned the earth, and the weather can turn deadly in a heartbeat. In this apocalyptic landscape, she found a home in the wilderness with a man she called, "Trapper," and he was like a father to her. Turns out, there was a dark side to the person who fed and sheltered Elka. Now, Elka has to find her real parents who went north years before. And she has to hurry, because if Trapper finds her first, something terrible will happen.

"Trapper was my family even though I didn't know a sure thing about him, but I figured quick i didn't know much more 'bout my parents and they was kin. Trapper was the kind a' family you choose for yourself, the kind that gets closer'n blood." pg 21

The title of the book speaks to Elka's disdain for taking the regular road through the wilderness — in her world, that's where the predators find you. It's also a metaphor for living the life you want to live, not the one that others expect for you.

"I don't much like roads. Roads is some other man's path that people follow no question. All my life I lived by rules of the forest and rules of myself. One a' them rules is don't go trusting another man's path." pg 85

Elka, instead, forges her own road through the trees and, as she goes, chooses a new family including a beautiful young woman with a background as mysterious as Elka's own and a lone wolf who appears one day out of the blue. But she doesn't trust her own choices because she made such a terrible one by relying on the monster she called Trapper.

"He bolted up, stood tall and kinglike, towering above me. Felt like I'd lost a piece of me in that moment, like that wolf had stolen something and I had to stick with him always to make sure I'd get it back." pg 73

Written in first-person narrative style, The Wolf Road is a dystopian coming-of-age story with some elements of horror and mystery. I found the opening to be a bit slow, but was swept up in the plot as the story progressed and Elka remembered certain details she had forgotten from her unique childhood.

Recommended for readers who like the thrills and chills of dystopian worlds.
Profile Image for Scott Hawkins.
Author 8 books2,630 followers
July 6, 2016
I absolutely loved this book.

The Wolf Road is a post-apocalyptic road trip with a western vibe. I won't summarize for fear of spoilers. There's a strong plot to keep the pages turning, but what absolutely blew me away was the writing. It's got that every-word-considered vibe you only get from the most skilled and careful practitioners of the craft. The lead characters are all strong and memorable, but even minor characters who only get a page or two come across as fully realized. That's quite a trick.

The book has a sort of icy, pulse-pounding tempo to it that I found impossible to put down. I read it more or less in one sitting. The ending in particular was absolutely flawless. When I finished it I actually clapped a couple of times.

I should probably mention that some aspects of the story are a tad dark. It didn't bother me at all, but that sort of thing almost never does. If your tolerance for that stuff is low you might want to check out some other reviews to see how other people reacted.

I'll buy whatever she writes next in hardback without reading the back cover. Highest possible recommendation.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
October 25, 2016
Read for post-apocalyptic book club. (My selection, but then events happened and I couldn't make it to the meeting. Mea culpa!) I liked it, but I just hope others did as well!

Now, I did like this book, very much. And I picked it up because it was advertised as a post-apocalyptic selection. BUT. This story is really a Western. There is nothing at all about it that requires a post-apocalyptic setting, and much as I love the genre, I felt that the efforts to fit the story into a presumably-future disaster scenario were a little distracting and unnecessary. It would've been fine in the Old West, 19th-century Canada, or maybe even present-day rural Appalachia.

Elka is a young girl who's been raised by her grandmother after her parents set out to find their fortune in gold mining, and never returned for their daughter. One day, after a terrible storm, she's lost in the woods. Starved and tired, when she comes across a remote cabin she's lured by the strips of jerky set out to dry outside the homestead. The man who lives there promises to find her grandmother and take her home. But then, "Trapper" tells her that her grandmother was killed in the storm. He takes Elka in, gives her her name, teaches her the ways of wilderness survival - and in return, Elka bestows upon him all the affection she has in her abandoned heart, regarding him as her father.

But now, there's a new sheriff in town. And she says that Trapper is Public Enemy #1, wanted for terrible, horrific crimes. Magistrate Lyon's quest for justice (or is it just vengeance?) sets Elka on a desperate journey north, accompanied by a young woman who could not be more different from her, trying both to escape the long arm of the law, and to find her parents.

I thought the journey that the book takes the reader on was extremely well-crafted, as the secrets that Elka has hidden even from herself are gradually revealed.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing and LibraryThing for the advance copy of the book! As always, my opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Taryn.
325 reviews299 followers
July 4, 2016
Survival/revenge/redemption + tough-talkin', knife-wieldin' heroine + post-apocalyptic setting + a strong female friendship. "The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape—told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity."

"Way I reckon it, men killed more wolves than wolves ever killed men. I know who I’m more afraid of.”

Elka is orphaned when she is seven years old and taken in by a reclusive man living in the woods. She affectionately calls him Trapper and he teaches her how to survive in the wild. A decade later she visits a nearby town and finds a wanted poster featuring Trapper's distinctive tattooed face. Her entire worldview is shattered; the man she'd built up in her head "as some kind a’ god" unforgivable crimes. She may be his next target now that she knows the truth. She goes on the run in hopes of finding the parents who abandoned her to mine for gold in the far north town of Halveston. But the more distance she gets from Trapper, the more she starts remembering the events of their life together. She starts seeing these moments in a different light and wonders if she shares some of the blame for his crimes. What follows is a tale of revenge and second chances, as Elka faces the brutal, unpredictable conditions of the wild and the even more dangerous threats from the "civilized" world.

I couldn’t unravel all them strands, all them lies and feelings what got knotted up over the years. Any lie can turn to truth if you believe it long enough.

Seventeen-year-old Elka received very little education in anything except survival and is illiterate. She is a straight talker and speaks with somewhat of a cowboy dialect. The story takes place mostly in the woods, but the towns she encounters have a strong Wild West feel. There's good mix of quiet moments and action. It has a lot of violence and gore. Hunting is an integral part of Elka's survival and she goes into great detail about the trapping and preparation of animals for food. There is also stomach-turning brutality against humans. The setting is post-apocalyptic North America, but the specific details of the event that led to humans living in such dire conditions remain vague. The details have been verbally passed down through generations and it sounds like it might have something to do with the Cold War. The big event is called by many different names (the Fall, the Reformation, Rapture, the Damn Stupid) and it occurred around the time Elka's grandmother was a baby. The story doesn't really have much to do with "the Damn Stupid," except for the way people wasted their blank slate. It is more about Elka's physical and mental journey. I really admired Elka's strength and independence.

I don’t much like roads. Roads is some other man’s path that people follow no question. All my life I lived by rules of the forest and rules of myself. One a’ them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path. No matter if that’s a real one trodden into dirt or all them twists and turns his life has taken. People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don’t grow exactly where their momma is; ain’t no room, ain’t enough light and water so they end up wilting and dying off. It’s the same with us humans, though you wouldn’t know it to look at them most a’ the time. Ranches and stores are passed father to son, momma to girl, but there ain’t no room for it. Son tries to run things like he wants, father ain’t having none of it, they start feuding and soon that family ain’t no more.

The book begins with a bang! The first chapter shows Elka confronting Trapper, which is actually what the entire story leads up to. Knowing some of the end events did not lessen the tension for me. The confrontation captured my attention immediately, but it holds so much more emotional weight once the whole story is revealed. Despite the knowledge of Trapper's crimes, the relationship between him and Elka and her wide-eyed admiration of him is very sweet. (I never thought I would find a story about a salmon's eye endearing!) The rest of the book details the events that led to the confrontation. After Elka goes on the run, it is impossible to shake the feeling that Trapper is lurking nearby. She battles unpredictable elements in the woods. While Elka is very resourceful in the wild, she's naive when it comes to people. She spent a decade in an isolated cabin with Trapper, under strict instructions not to communicate with anyone. Despite her better instincts, she is a little too trusting at the beginning of her journey and gets into a few vulnerable situations. She also has the added stress of being chased by law enforcement, who think she is an accessory to Trapper's crimes.

Memories ain’t no one’s friend. They show you all the good things you had, all the good things you lost, and don’t let you forget all the bad shit in between

Elka spends much of the beginning surviving on her own, but she starts to interact with a wider variety of people about a third of the way through. My favorite part is when Penelope enters Elka's life. Penelope is prissy and not made for living in the wild, but she has survival skills that Elka doesn't: she can read, has medical knowledge, and is very beautiful. Elka has an adversarial attitude towards Penelope at first and is reluctant to befriend her, but a strong bond develops over time. Their differences make their interactions interesting and sometimes hilarious. I would love to read a book solely about them living in the woods together!

"Monsters ain’t real ’cept in kids’ imaginations, under the beds, in the closets. We live in a world a’ men and there ain’t no good come out of tellin’ them they monsters. Makes ’em think they ain't done nothing' wrong, that it's their nature and they can’t do nothin’ to change that. Callin’ ’em a monster makes ’em somethin’ different from the rest of us, but they ain’t. They just men, flesh and bone and blood. Bad’uns, truth, but men all the same…Nothin’ a man can do can make him stop bein’ a man.”

The Wolf Road explores the nature of evil as Elka comes to grips with the part she might have played in Trapper's crimes. Elka learns that the past doesn't have to doom your future and that maybe having a "pack" isn't so bad. This book has a similar feel to The Dog Stars and Vengeance Road, so if you liked those books I definitely recommend you check this one out. It really quenched my thirst for danger and adventure! (Which I only want to experience from the comfort of my own living room!) There was never a dull moment and I was engaged from beginning to end. Elka is a captivating character that I will never forget.

Life is life and you got to live it in the here-now not the back then.

An excerpt is available on Penguin Random House's website.

Thank you to Penguin Random House First to Read for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released on July 5, 2016.
Profile Image for Fran.
640 reviews586 followers
May 19, 2016
The topography of British Columbia has changed. Wars have created a post-apocalyptic wilderness demanding a new set of survival skills.

Elka, an orphan, has lived with Trapper for ten years. Rescued at the age of seven, she has been taught survival techniques including tracking and hunting. Although he is a solitary hunter, Trapper has nurtured Elka because she follows his rules. She doesn't talk to anyone, ask any questions and has a '"gift" with a knife.

On a trip to town for supplies, Elka finds out that "father figure" Trapper is really cruel, murderous Kreagar Hallet. She realizes that animals hunt prey to feed their young but Kreagar is a thrill killer often scalping his victims.

Elka flees and tries to rid herself of Kreagar. Past memories emerge as she tries to develop friendships and avoid his attempt to rein her back in to the dark side. Hot on her trail is Magistrate Lyon whose son was killed by Kreagar and his accomplice.

This debut novel by Beth Lewis creates a tense, suspenseful atmosphere. The tautness and mental anguish is palpable and spikes toward the end of the tome. Kudos to Beth Lewis!

Thanks to Net Galley for a digital copy of this book.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
September 30, 2016
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/09/29/...

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started The Wolf Road, but once it started going I couldn’t stop! And to be honest, I’m surprised more attention hasn’t been given to the book’s “Western” vibe, as that really deserves to be front and center. Out of the novel’s many strengths, its harsh and gritty frontier-like atmosphere was what really stood out—a definite plus for me, considering there’s certainly no shortage of post-apocalyptic settings in the speculative fiction arena.

The Wolf Road features a world ravaged by war. As a little girl, protagonist Elka learned from her Nana about the “Big Damn Stupid”—the catastrophic event that destroyed everything and set human civilization back to zero. Technology and modern comforts are gone now, along with any kind of social infrastructure or protection. It’s everyone for themselves in the northern wilderness where Elka lives, and what’s left of the law here is swift and merciless in delivering justice to criminals and delinquents.

One day when Elka was seven years old though, she found herself lost and alone in the woods. Against all odds, she was rescued and taken in by a man known only as “Trapper”. He sheltered Elka, when he could have turned away and left her to die. For the next ten years he took care of her, and even taught her how to hunt and to trap and to survive off the land. And in time, Elka came to see Trapper as her father.

However, all that safety and happiness about to be ripped away. On a fateful trip into town, Elka discovers that the man who had raised her for the last decade is not who she always thought he was. Trapper turns out to be a serial murderer wanted by the law, and unfortunately for Elka, her close association with him makes her an accomplice. The law is now after her in the form of a ruthless magistrate named Lyon, a hard woman who will stop at nothing to apprehend her prey. And now that Elka is aware of his true identity, the man she used to call her father is coming after her as well, determined not to leave loose ends.

I don’t know what I expected when I first picked up The Wolf Road, but it really hooked me in from the start. First of all, this is a unique novel that encompasses a number of genre elements, making it a bit hard to categorize. While it doesn’t have the breakneck pace of a thriller, the suspense is so thick it’s almost palpable. The post-apocalyptic setting is also unusual in that it downplays the typical themes of technological collapse and life afterwards in the crumbling cities. Instead, we’re deep in the wilderness, focusing on the remnants of a rural population that has reverted to way of life last seen in the mid-1800s, complete with their own Gold Rush! Lone travelers have to guard themselves against wolves and bears, as well as the predators of a more human sort like scammers, murders, and sex traffickers. Throw in poison lakes, the sudden and devastating weather changes, and all the other lasting effects of the Big Damned Stupid, and you have yourself a fascinating mix.

Elka herself is an intriguing character, a product of her unconventional upbringing. She’s tough and independent, but having spent her whole life in the woods, Elka is also understandably a little naïve and all too trusting when she heads out into the world by herself. While her guilelessness does get her into all sorts of trouble, on the bright side it also leads her to an unlikely friendship. Elka meets Penelope, the daughter of a well-to-do doctor, and though the two young women cannot be any more different, they quickly become family to each other. Gradually, their stories are revealed to us, and that’s when the realization really hits you just how dramatically things have changed in this world. Survival in this post-apocalypse can take many forms, and each individual adapts by playing to their strengths. Together, Elka and Penelope make a great team by combining their skills.

Also, no matter who you are or where you come from, everyone in this world has their secrets. In order to understand Elka, we also have to take in account the tricky relationship she has with Trapper, a man she can’t help but still think of as her father, even though she knows he is a killer. The Wolf Road portrays the different relationships very well, but given Elka’s history, there’s also an element of the unreliable narrator to contend with, and I think that’s where the story stumbled for me a little. I can’t go into any more detail due to risk of spoilers, but I can say that fortunately, this issue only cropped up for me near the end of the book, and the twist didn’t affect my overall experience too much.

Bottom line, The Wolf Road is an outstanding novel, incredibly well-written and carried out with impressive finesse. I loved the atmosphere of this world, and the people in it feel fully fleshed out, brought to life with strikingly vivid imagery and realistic characterization. This was one great read.
Profile Image for Figgy.
678 reviews219 followers
July 4, 2018
Link updated.

This book is perfection.

Okay, okay, there was one thing that didn't sit entirely right with me, but which I don't feel adequately skilled to comment on, and that was the concern that there were discrepancies within the slanguage used.

Elka is illiterate, and she often uses weren't instead of wasn't, uses a' instead of of, and abbreviations such as 'bout, 'neath, 'stead, 'hind, 'tween, and afore. At times while reading, I thought I might have caught some discrepancies, where she used the correct word rather than the one she used in its place most of the time, or the full word where she would normally use the abbreviation. This might have been done in an effort to make the text more readable, or it might have been an error in the translation of text into illiterate speak, but either way I was too caught up in the story to mark out the possible discrepancies, and this is why it gets 10/10.

The rest of this review can be found HERE!


Before reading

This just turned up today... unrequested... and, I'm really glad it did, because I just read the first chapter, and... woah!
Profile Image for Caroline .
418 reviews574 followers
November 21, 2016

This thriller is proof that a villain doesn’t have to take center-stage to be sufficiently terrifying. A fearless teenage narrator, Elka, is on the run from her serial-killer surrogate father. “Hunted” gets much more attention than does “hunter,” and it works so well.

The year is unclear, but what is clear is that a far-reaching bombing event has propelled this corner of the world into a kind of post-apocalyptic lawlessness. This isn’t just any lawlessness, though; there’s a strong Wild West feel to The Wolf Road, with the magistrate sporting a six-shooter on her belt while traversing the land on horseback. People bear arms. They gather in a town square to witness hangings. Clothing is old-fashioned. Gold-seekers venture to a promised land a là the California Gold Rush.

This story is brutal, coarse, even barbaric, set almost entirely in woods that are as beautiful as they are ominous. The sense of urgency and ever-present danger is well-realized, with Elka’s impossible circumstances always clear and keenly felt. Concern for this young protagonist never lets up. Beth Lewis’s sense of pacing is excellent and her focus sharp. New scenes are introduced with impeccable timing, as are new, always interesting characters. Almost every chapter ends on a cliffhanger, which means there’s no resisting reading further. Always, the plot stays right on track, with high tension that never slackens.

Hunting monopolizes the spotlight in this book. Elka grew up hunting, and The Wolf Road is replete with sometimes graphic descriptions of gutting and skinning kills. The cooking and eating of meat is described a lot, occasionally in fine detail and always with extreme relish. This is very much a savage, animalistic thriller, all told in Elka’s strongly accented voice.

Potential readers should know that despite what the Goodreads summary says, The Wolf Road isn’t remotely like The Road. The post-apocalyptic element is extremely underdeveloped. It consists merely of references to some bombing event (“The Damn Stupid,” in Elka’s words). Lewis never elaborated beyond that. The True Grit comparison is more apt, but in many respects this is quite like the 1985 movie “The Journey of Natty Gann” (minus the train, romance, and loving father). The Wolf Road features a relentless serial killer, but it’s his young prey that this story’s really about; he’s there, but he’s not. This is about her journey--literally and figuratively.

On the surface, The Wolf Road seems like a straightforward thriller, but as the story progresses, and particularly in its final chapters, it delves deep. Unfortunately, here the story does drag, with Elka grappling with her conscience for too long, ruminating at one point on how all humans have “dark in them.” Some rumination, however, is needed. The Wolf Road would be a lesser story without it. It still would be worth reading, but it wouldn’t touch the heart. What Lewis managed to do is thrill and stir the soul.

Final verdict: An unusual thriller with depth that surprises and satisfies. Highly recommended.

NOTE: I received this as an Advanced Reader Copy from LibraryThing in May 2016.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,761 reviews1,218 followers
June 8, 2016
I won this from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review. I did feel some pressure to quickly review. Though I wouldn’t read any other reviews until after I wrote and posted my own review, I noticed that many reviews have already been posted, many more at Goodreads than at LibraryThing.

I read a paperback uncorrected proof not for sale with 356 pages. I received it on May 11. It has an expected publication date July 5th. I read it as a buddy read with my Goodreads friend Caroline, in an open group thread where others were and will be welcome to participate. It took me from 5/26-6/4 to read it. I guess I’m greedy because I love when advance copies are the final version ready for sale in stores. Most of the first “advance copies” I got, years ago, were like that, so I find myself disappointed when I get uncorrected proof copies. However, as long as I get them in advance of publication date, I’m satisfied, and that was the case with this book. I have already reserved a library copy so I can see the book’s dedication, the acknowledgements, and anything else missing from the uncorrected proof edition.

From the book’s description I’d thought it wouldn’t be but it was actually okay to read close to bedtime, even though it was seriously creepy at many times, but there were certainly parts when I was incredibly glad I wasn’t eating while reading.

I do love post apocalyptic stories, orphan stories, survival stories, and coming of age stories, and so this book was definitely my cup of tea.

I love the unique and quirky main character/narrator, though it took me a while to warm up to her, probably partly because of her dialect and partly because of her living situation she describes at the beginning of the book. Even before I was fully engaged, I was never bored, but always interested in continuing with the story. Overall, I liked it more and more as I read on. My empathy for her did kick into high gear, and it increased throughout the book, but it took about 70 pages for me to deeply feel for her. Up until then I was having a hard time getting emotionally attached, and was surprised I didn’t care as much as I thought I should, given her life circumstances. I particularly loved that she’s very tough, and matter of fact, and irreverent, and strong and vulnerable, empathetic despite herself, and funny too.

For a time I was hung up on how her dialect sounded so different from the man she’d lived with for 10 years, at a young age (7-17) when people usually pick up on the language of those around them, and sounded different from everyone else, but by the end that seemed like a non-issue. Since there were so many different people and groups of people and they all had their own ways of speaking, it ended up okay for me.

The book has a lot of suspense, and it was hard to put down once it got going; there was so much danger and tension that it was hard for me to take a breath for long periods.

However foreign in some ways this world is, not only could I imagine it as such in the all too near future, but it contained many truths about the present world and its people as well. This is a world where devastating wars have decimated the population, and changed the natural world in some ways, but it’s also realistic fiction. It was so interesting to get the perspectives of the main character and other characters, most two or three generations away from the calamitous events that happened to the world and that changed society. There are still subcultures. Elka’s knowledge of nature/the natural world I found to be an especially interesting aspect of the story. It’s apparent fairly early on that the events take place in the area that is British Columbia in Canada, and because I’ve visited that area more than once it was fun for me to notice its similarities and differences compared to the modern world.

What I most disliked about the storytelling was its excessive foreshadowing. The main character narrator continually talked about what was going to happen, but not in a forthcoming way. I didn’t need being told in a cryptic way that some things (likely bad) were going to happen, and I didn’t like that way of moving along the story, yet somehow I enjoyed it anyway. But truthfully, the constant foreshadowing about drove me nuts. I was fine with the book starting with a scene near the end, but when I got to the scene introduced at the start of the book I didn’t think the reader needed such a long passage of identical words. The story and its characters were so compelling though that I forgave all of this, but I think the book would have been better without most of it.

As with many books I read I guessed way too much of what characters had done and what was going to happen, but that didn’t really ruin things for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed (in some cases enjoyed might not be the proper word but for one it perfectly fits) the few parts that were unexpected for me.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I particularly enjoyed the two “buddy stories” in the book.

I thought that all the people were more than adequately explained, and they all seem believable and authentic, their personalities and behaviors and development consistently made sense.

I thought that the three main female characters were particularly interesting, particularly the two younger ones.

I thought the story was particularly brilliant at understanding child abuse and trauma, and post traumatic stress.

I appreciated that everything was resolved to my satisfaction but that some things were left open ended and not too, too neatly wrapped up. What saddened me most, even though I think it’s weird that I care so much is

As I finished the book, I was left feeling wrung out, but with a great appreciation of this novel, with its authenticity, and even with its flaws. It’s very grim but it has heart.

Quotes from the book that I liked:

“One a' them rules is don't go trusting another man's path...People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don't grow exactly where their momma is; ain't no room...I weren't following no one up through life.”

“I seen women take this kind a' help from a man with a look a' relief on their faces. I wondered if these women knew how much easier their lives would be if they did all this stuff for themselves.”

“But I weren't no quitter No wolf nor bear just gives up when they get beat or hungry. You ever seen a bear jump off a cliff 'cause life handed him a few rough draws? No, you haven't. The wild keeps going till it don't have strength in its muscles and bones. The wild doesn't give up; it's forever, and so was I.”

“...shiny trinkets and frivolous spending make people forget what world they're living in.”

“You can't admit to someone else what you're too damn afraid to admit to yourself.”

Any local friends who’d like to read my copy before its official publication, please let me know, and we’ll make arrangements for me to lend it to you.
Profile Image for The Shayne-Train.
363 reviews90 followers
August 8, 2016
O sweet Christ, this was such a perfectly-written, instantly addictive novel.

The revelations are parceled out in drips and drabs. The truth about the world this story takes place in, the truth about the characters' history, the truth about what human beings are really capable of.

At once a "Western," a survival tale, a travelogue, an epic journey, a murder mystery, and a semi-post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story. There is so much going on here!
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,132 followers
September 26, 2020
Wow, that was one intense ride!

In a very different Western Canada from the one we know now, a young girl is lost in the woods and found by a trapper with strange tattoos on his face. Her parents having gone up North prospecting for gold, she is alone in the world and Trapper, as she comes to call him, takes her in and raises her to forage and hunt. It's not an easy life, but its the only one Elka knows for many years, until a determined Magistrate named Jennifer Lyon tells her the truth about her adopted father: Trapper's true name is Kreagar Hallet, and he is wanted for several murders. When she realizes she is wanted as well, Elka runs off into the wilderness to try and find her long lost parents, but both Hallet and Lyon are hot on her heels.

This is kind of an exhausting book. Another reviewer compared it to Cormac McCarthy, and I have to agree with that: it's a perfectly plotted post-apocalyptic Western that combines the best of both genres in a terrifying and breathtaking blend. Elka's voice is wonderfully captured by Lewis, who created a unique heroine, who can survive in the wild in a pinch but who has no idea what evils men are capable of - and has been blinded to some that were committed under her own nose.

It's impossible to say much about this book without spoiling the story, and I really wouldn't want to do that to anyone: you have to pick up this book knowing as little as possible, but hold on to your hat, because the cold Northern winds are going to do their best to blow it away while you race to figure out what's at the end of Elka's road.

Highly recommended, but don't read it over lunch.
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,206 reviews188 followers
December 7, 2016
The best thing about The Wolf Road is the voice. Main character and first-person narrator Elka is one badass bitch. She wasn't raised by wolves, but might have been better off if she had been.

Abandoned by her parents after an apocalyptic event, she grew up rough in the woods with a man she called Trapper. He taught her all the survival skills she needed, and maybe a few she didn't. When Elka learns Trapper might not be quite the father figure she thought he was, she lights out on her own on a quest to find her birth parents.

This is a book that feels very much like a Western even though it's set in a dystopian future laid waste by nuclear disaster. It has that brutal but righteous sense of justice about it. There's a lot of adventure, danger, and intrigue, and with just a few hiccups, the action moves along at a good clip.

I haven't had the patience for anything too long, too deep, or too literary for a while now, so I was in the market for a book that would not only keep me turning pages, but give me a reason to pick the book back up when Netflix was calling my name. Elka's dark secrets and rough-as-sandpaper sensibility kept reeling me back in.

With regards to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy. On sale now!

More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews992 followers
June 15, 2016
The Wolf Road is an incredible novel – dark, intriguing, absolutely beautifully written with one of the strongest and most memorable character voices I have ever read.

This is Elka’s story – and BOOM what a story it is. Her parents gone, lost in a storm, taken in by “Trapper” and brought up in the wild, until one day she discovers something sinister about her saviour and sets out on a journey across a wild and bitter landscape, a journey that will take her to unexpected places and unexpected people. Chased by her mentor and the law, nothing about this is going to be easy for Elka.

She will take you with her though, the gorgeous descriptive prose is totally immersive, the setting coming alive around you – a primitive and chilly post apocalyptic world cleverly set in no time or place specifically but all the more real for it. Primitive and unforgiving, The Wolf Road is part road trip, part drama, part mystery but the heart of it is this one girl, Elka. You will never forget her.

The Wolf Road may be beautiful but it is also relentless and often surprising, sometimes violent, sometimes peaceful, but always fascinating and I was totally riveted. There is a mystical magic to be had here, the author weaves somewhat of a spell around you via Elka and her unique way of telling the tale – the whole thing has an eerie, mesmeric vibe to it that is really difficult to put into words – but that is absolutely and completely creatively vivid and exquisite. I loved every minute.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,722 reviews464 followers
July 15, 2016
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I love a nicely told dark story and that is exactly what I got with this book. I really liked that the story is told from a very unique voice although I would imagine that not all readers will enjoy Elka's rough speech as I did. I thought that the world that this book was set in felt very vivid and realistic. This is a brutal story but also one of hope. Elka meets some wonderful people on her journey and works to improve her own future. I think that this story is one that will stay with me for a while.

The story is set after the apocalypse. The world that Elka knows is rather brutal and the living conditions can be harsh. In many ways, her life was very reminiscent of the pioneer days. The book really had an Old West feel for me. When Elka is separated from her grandmother, she stumbles on to Trapper's cabin and he takes her in. She learns the skills to survive in this harsh land from Trapper, who she thinks of as a father. Her world is turned upside down when she learns that he is actually a serial killer.

Elka begins her journey to find her parents as soon as she learns the truth about the man she has grown to think of as her daddy. Along the way she finds herself in a lot of tough situations. She even gains a friend or two during her travels in addition to a wolf. Her path is anything but boring with one problem popping up right after the another. The excitement of the story never really slowed down for me.

This story is told completely from Elka's point of view. One thing to note is that the story is told as if Elka were speaking. She has a very distinctive dialect which may not work for all readers. I actually liked Elka's speech and thought that it made the story feel even more genuine.

I would highly recommend this book to others. It is a story that was often violent and gory but could also be thoughtful at times. I am amazed that this is the author's debut novel and I look forward to reading more of Beth Lewis's writing in the future.

I received a copy of this book from Wunderkind PR, Crown Publishing, and First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Initial Thoughts
I am so happy to have been able to finish this book. Thank you to the ladies at Wunderkind PR for getting this book in my hands as quickly as you did.

I liked this one. Elka was pretty easy for me to like and watching her navigate the world was rather exciting.
Profile Image for Ron.
387 reviews89 followers
November 13, 2016
Not all 3-star ratings can be considered equal. There's the “middle-of-the-road”, straight C: “liked you, but don’t go braggin now”. The C+: “got a little swagger in my step”. And the C-: “tripped over my own swagger”.

What I liked (mainly the 1st half): The character of Elka. She is this unique, “wild-raised” girl (young woman for most of the story), who talks like 3rd grade trucker, takes no sass, but will certainly hand it out. I like her for who she is, because she wears her heart on her sleeve. This masks her vulnerability. I like the setting of the story and the trouble of the journey (again, only in the first half). I like the writing, because it is true to Elka’s character. That took some getting used to, but when I did, it felt right on. Mostly, I liked the humor. A number of very funny moments inside this tense read. This humor was all Elka’s.

What I didn’t like (you may have guessed – the 2nd half): A post-apocalyptic story that reveals little reason to be that. The journey became the un-journey. What was at first unique and absorbing became somewhat trivial and mundane. The humor vanished, and Elka was not the same. I dislike the “cat-and-mouse” chase that was anything but. The man who is called a monster, barely makes an appearance. I get that he is like a ghost in the woods, but without presence there’s no drama. Finally, I didn’t care for Elka’s repetitious thoughts by the end of the story because they seemed just that: repetitive.

The Wolf Road: Grade = Straight C. If the 2nd half compared to the 1st, then Wow. My problem with the 2nd half could be me. Hard to say. The pluses and minuses cancel each other out.
Profile Image for Jessica Sullivan.
518 reviews428 followers
March 1, 2017
"All people are good till they ain't no more."

This genre-bending post-apocalyptic book is part horror story, part cat-and-mouse thriller, part modern western, and part survival tale.

Seventeen-year-old Elka can hardly remember her life before she met Trapper. For a decade now, this gruff man has been like a father to her. The two of them have lived on their own in the middle of nowhere—on the fringes of a decimated society. Trapper has taught her how to live like an animal, hunting for food and surviving in the stark wilderness.

Then one day, Elka sees Trapper's face on a wanted posted in a nearby town and learns that he's a deranged killer. She flees north in search of her real parents, but it won't be an easy journey. Along the way, Elka encounters dangerous people struggling to get by in this new world—and not only that, but she has the sneaking suspicion that she's being stalked by Trapper. Worst of all is the nagging feeling, as she confronts her own dark past, that maybe she's just as inhuman as he is. Maybe he taught her too well.

The Wolf Road is a haunting story about a feral young girl reckoning with her inner darkness and coming to terms with her own humanity. It's sort of like if Stephen King wrote The Road. While I questioned some of the author's narrative choices, I was thoroughly captivated by Elka and enjoyed taking this journey with her.
December 23, 2019
"The wild keeps going till it don't have strength in its muscles and bones. The wild don't give up; it's forever, and so was I."

Elka is a child living in the world after the Big Damn Stupid (nuclear war). Her parents left when she was a baby to make a fortune in the north panning for gold and she's been raised by her Nana in a remote cabin.

When a dangerous storm blows through, Elka finds herself far from home with no one to look after her until a man finds her stealing food outside his cabin. Elka calls the man Trapper and he takes her in, teaches her how to survive in the wilderness, and becomes a father to her.

There are things Trapper has done that Elka has locked away in the back of her mind until she finds his face on a Wanted poster years later.  Jennifer Lyon, the local magistrate, has a personal stake in finding the murderous Kreager Hallet (the man Elka knows as Trapper) and she believes Elka is involved.

On the run from Trapper and Lyon, Elka journeys across post-apocalyptic British Columbia in search of her parents.  The wilderness is what she knows and trusts; people are far too dangerous.  

The further Elka travels, the more she has to lose after a young woman named Penelope joins her.  Elka's ready to make a deal with Lyon in order to find peace and rid the world of Kreager Hallet.

I am stunned by this book. The atmosphere, the narrator, the plot --- all are brilliantly crafted. It's a post-apocalyptic Western (but set in the wilderness of B.C.) about a young woman on an epic journey, searching for redemption, while in a cat-and-mouse game with a serial killer .  There's violence and dark secrets and justice in a world with a new set of rules.

If you love Westerns, post apocalyptic dystopias, and/or coming-of-age stories, pick up The Wolf Road.

For more reviews, visit www.rootandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Judith E.
546 reviews191 followers
December 12, 2019
An audio travel boo with, unfortunately, a narrator that over emphasized the characters' back woods speech patterns. I drifted off numerous times.......
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,371 reviews920 followers
September 26, 2016
‘One a’ them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path…People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don’t grow exactly where their momma is; ain’t no room…I weren’t following no one up through life.’

Deep in the woods of what was once called British Columbia, 17-year-old Elka is struggling to survive on her own. After what she refers to as the “Big Damn Stupid”, the two wars that demolished the world that we know, this post-apocalyptic wasteland isn’t for the weak-willed. When she was only 7-years-old, Elka was caught in a massive storm and lost her grandmother but was taken in by a man she called “Trapper”, a man that taught her everything she needed to know about surviving and became the closest thing she could call family. When Elka discovers that “Trapper” a.k.a Kreager Hallet is wanted by the law for the deaths of many, she disappears thinking that she must be next. Her plan is to finally set off to find her long lost parents who left her with her grandmother to go in search of wealth, but her days traversing the woods alone get her mind racing as to the reasons why Kreager Hallet kept her alive all these years.

Her journey takes her north for many months. Seasons change but she continues to walk towards some unseen destination. Things aren’t easy and she constantly encounters obstacles but nothing she’s not able to find her way around, even with the law that is also searching for her assuming that she’s an accomplish for the murders. She even befriends a Wolf who undertakes the journey alongside her. Elka was an extraordinary character and one that isn’t seen often enough. Resilient, resourceful, with an indomitable spirit, she constantly proved herself to be immensely capable of dealing with any situation presented to her. When she’s forced to deal with other people and society, it was baffling to her that all women wouldn’t be just like her: able to take care of themselves in this harsh world.

‘I seen women take this kind a’ help from a man with a look a’ relief on their faces. I wondered if these women knew how much easier their lives would be if they did all this stuff for themselves.’

The comparisons between The Road and True Grit are apt. The world is a desolate place lacking in any redeemable qualities and has reverted to a Western style. Considering this was once British Columbia, it makes sense that individuals still speak French but to ones like Elka that have spent their life away from the company of people, she’s developed her own dialect that is decidedly Western. The language itself is fortunately effortless to read unlike other books I’ve read where new dialects have been created. The writing itself is fluid and promising for a debut author. There was unfortunately one lapse that ultimately changed the entire story for me: it’s told in past-tense and the essence of the ending is revealed in the introduction. For me, too much was revealed and the element of surprise was spent. Yes, there were additional details to add to the ending that weren’t disclosed until the true end of the story, however, I felt that the initial reveal was wholly unnecessary and the entire story would have been far more effective and enticing at keeping the reader interested if left out completely. Nonetheless, this post-apocalyptic western proves to be an auspicious start for debut author Beth Lewis.

‘Memories ain’t no one’s friend. They show you all the good things you had, all the good things you lost, and don’t let you forget all the bad shit in between.’

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Lisa.
346 reviews535 followers
February 10, 2017
Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/0...

The Wolf Road is a brutal and fascinating story that entrenches you in the mind and personality of Elka, a young woman living in a post apocalyptic world that can be harsh and unforgiving. I found her personality and story both riveting and touching. She is far from a sentimental type, quite the opposite really. She is driven by practicality and survival and gives little thought or need for much of anything else. In all honesty, her character has not had the luxury of being able to experience little beyond this.

Lost and on her own at the age of seven, she meets a man she eventually names Trapper. A man who can appear scary to her at times but when it comes down to it, he takes her in, gives her name (Elka) and teaches her all that she knows, takes care of her when she is sick or injured. They live in isolation in the remotes wilds where he teaches her to track, trap, hunt and survive. He becomes not only the largest, but also the only, influence on her as she develops from that lost young girl into a young woman. He also teaches her to fear other humans, solidifying her isolation with him.

As isolated as they typically are, there are some supplies they occasionally need to go to the nearest town for. As Elka grows older, Trapper starts trusting her with this, always making sure she remembers to talk as little as possible and to trust no one. But when she sees a poster with the face of the man she thinks of as “Daddy” (or Trapper) saying he is wanted for murder, her life changes forever.

As Elka flees, she also really comes into her own. She uses what Trapper has taught her, but she also initially has an incredible amount of naivety that comes from living in virtual isolation for most of her life. She really is on a journey where she not only has to fight for her life, but also where she learns about the world she lives in, about herself as well her past. She is faced with having to choose to continue to listen to Trapper’s advice to never trust anyone or learning how and who to trust. She is a solitary being trying to find her way in the world of people and having to come to terms with what she had thought was truth, what she was taught, may not be how things really are.

One thing about this book that I have to question is a structural decision in the story’s presentation. There is a climactic event from the end of the story that is presented at the beginning. I found myself dwelling on this scene throughout the entire novel. I am still quite undecided if it helped or hurt my reading experience. On one hand, it handed me an ending ahead of time, sort of dulling some mystery and suspense. On the other hand, I was quite focused on how the story would find its way to that point. I will never know if I would have enjoyed this story more or less had that scene been presented chronologically, but I have to admit it is something I wondered about. Overall, I did really enjoy the book, so if it hurt the story at all, it certainly wasn’t by much.

This is an incredible story of one young woman’s remarkable journey for survival, truth and justice. Her character is genuine, her experiences are brutal. This is a book that will stick with me for a long time to come, and the author is definitely one to watch. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Sarah.
153 reviews35 followers
March 22, 2020
Wow! I went into this book blind. I'd heard it was good, but boy did Beth Lewis deliver. It's gritty and dark with lots of depth to its characters. Lewis creates a dystopian British Columbia setting that feels like a western, where the world is ravaged and everyone is left to fend for themselves. Claims are made to land to mine gold in the north, and small towns have cropped up around gold deposits.

The main character, Elka, is a gritty young woman who was abandoned by her biological parents at birth and raised by her aunt in the wilderness. When her aunt goes missing, she finds a man she calls Trapper by attempting to steal from him. He catches her but winds up taking her in as his own, but they don't have a typical father/daughter relationship despite what Elka believes. He is loving but harsh with her, but she accepts his ways and learns how to survive in the wilderness. Her life is torn upside down when she discovers he is wanted for several murders in town, and that all those hunting trips he's been on have actually been to murder women. However, the town sheriff is after Elka, too. She has secrets that she doesn't even realize she has. As she escapes further north in search of her biological parents, she is haunted by Trapper and his crimes.

What begins as a wilderness survival and adoption story turns into a literary work with facets of thriller, horror, and western in a dystopian setting that simmers at a slow boil throughout. Lewis explores the humanity that society devolves to when left to its own devices and best intentions to improve while also picking apart the relationships between parent and child, friendship, and with oneself. She seamlessly weaves in the wilderness as a character to show the human race's complicated relationship and exploitation of its land and people while also showing how the land consistently provides to a race that ravages it. I'm really looking forward to what Beth Lewis does next.
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