The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

The Wolf Road was one of my stand-out reads of 2016. It could be a classic adventure story of the West, except that it takes place in a post-apocalyptic America that might almost have come to be; and its shoot-from-the-hip protagonist is not some grizzled male gunslinger, but a quick-witted girl named Elka with a sharp knife and a dark secret. As she struggles through a frozen wilderness in search of her vanished parents, with a killer dogging her heels, Elka is forced to confront the horrific truths that plague her past.

Beth Lewis’s debut marks her as a big talent, and not just because of the effortlessly gripping storytelling or the vibrant inner voice of her protagonist. This is a book that genuinely draws you in to its deadly world. You'll shiver as you read it, from the icy cold as much as from the lurking dangers of the northern badlands. 

My three favourite novels of 2016 – The Wolf Road, Heroes of the Frontier, and Our Endless Numbered Days – all very different books. But I recently noticed that each of them features an escape into the wilderness. That’s no coincidence, I guess, given the dystopia the real world is currently descending into. As 2017 begins, we need more vibrant, immersive adventures like The Wolf Road. I wait with baited breath for Beth Lewis' book 2.