It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on 09/07/2019
Wilder Girls is never a book I expected to pick up. The cover definitely interested me from the start, but I normally don’t do horror at all! Right before it released I started reading a lot of positive reviews and people saying how amazing this book was. I couldn’t resist giving it a try and decided to order it. Today it’s time to tell you what I thought about this horror story!
I normally don’t include lists of triggers in my reviews, but the author listed trigger warnings. There are quite a few serious ones, so here’s the list the author posted to her site:
- Graphic violence and body horror. Gore.
- On the page character death, parental death, and animal death, though the animals are not pets.
- Behavior and descriptive language akin to self harm, and references to such.
- Food scarcity and starvation. Emesis.
- A scene depicting chemical gassing.
- Suicide and suicidal ideation.
- Non-consensual medical treatment.
If you know me, you know I don’t normally do horror. That being said this one just wouldn’t leave me alone. The cover was calling to me and I have heard nothing but amazing things. Besides what the blurb told me, I had no clue what to expect. I never had to read Lord of the Flies in high school (moved away to Europe the year I started high school).
Wilder Girls drops us in the middle of the story from the start. It’s been a year and a half since the Tox started and a lot has changed on the island, the school and to the people living there. Normally I’m pretty confused when a book just drops you in the middle of things, but with Wilder Girls that wasn’t an issue. I felt the way the author described everything and the events that first take place really give us enough information to grasp what is going on.
“The told us to wait and stay alive.”
I have to say the “flare ups” (what happens when the disease making them sick strikes) are rather intense. That also made this story very unique. I mean illnesses that can change people and make them sick has been done quite a few times (and I even know what without knowing much about horror). What Rory Powers thinks of actually is rather unique. The disease affects the girls in different ways (reptile hand, second spine, eye grew shut) and no one knows when it will be fatal.
The worldbuilding in this story sucked me in from the start. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to read this book alone on a dark night. The way the grounds, house and everything is described definitely gave me that creepy feeling a book like this should have. I could really see this being on screen.
Our story is told from two POVs: Hetty and Byatt. Through their eyes we start seeing what’s going on and how they’re really starting to wonder if help will ever come. I loved that the mysteries started becoming clear and every time I started thinking I knew who was behind it and how it started, something happened to change my mind. Also, it was nice that romance wasn’t the biggest subject of this book. In YA it happens frequently, that the crush becomes the most important element. Wilder Girls gives us a hint of romance, but it doesn’t take hold of the story!
“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Her voice sounds like metal on metal, like a million people all together, a scream and a whisper and everything in between, and it hirts, a real hurt reaching all the way to my bones. Like they’re cracking, like they’re glass.”
Even though Wilder Girls kept me wanting more and being a book I couldn’t put down, there were a few things that made me only give it four stars. I know the story has to be built up, but it felt like it took a really long time before something happened. At first it was just the day to day life at the former boarding school. Because of that I also missed a bit of depth in the characters. I wanted to know a bit more about Hetty, Byatt and Reese (the three characters we mostly read about). The author scratched the surface, but I wanted more.
Also, the ending seemed more of a way to end the first book of a series than the ending of a standalone. I’m all for a book leaving me wanting more, but there were just too many questions left open. It made the ending seem a bit rushed.
That being said, for my first horror book, I’m really impressed. Rory Power took a subject that’s ben done quite a few times and gave it her own unique twist. She will officially be known as the author that made me read horror, haha. I really hope that we get a sequel in the future.
I don’t know if I will become a big fan of horror, but this one definitely made me curious. If you’ve read any horror books that you would consider mild for the genre, please leave your suggestions in the comments!