Monday, August 28, 2023

Review | Wild Spaces by S.L. Coney

Source: review copy provided by publisher. This is a review of my reading experience.

Robert R. McCammon’s Boy’s Life meets H. P. Lovecraft in Wild Spaces, a foreboding, sensual coming-of-age debut in which the corrosive nature of family secrets and toxic relatives assume eldritch proportions.

An eleven-year-old boy lives an idyllic childhood exploring the remote coastal plains and wetlands of South Carolina alongside his parents and his dog Teach. But when the boy’s eerie and estranged grandfather shows up one day with no warning, cracks begin to form as hidden secrets resurface that his parents refuse to explain.

The longer his grandfather outstays his welcome and the greater the tension between the adults grows, the more the boy feels something within him changing —physically—into something his grandfather welcomes and his mother fears. Something abyssal. Something monstrous.

Why did I read Wild Spaces?

The first thing that drew me to Wild Spaces was the cover. Tentacles and a dog? I had to know more! Then the comparisons to Boy's Life by Robert McCammon (and obviously Lovecraft) sealed the deal. Boy's Life is my favorite book of all time. That's a lot of hype to live up to for me, but if a book captures even a sliver of what McCammon captures, I'm a happy reader.

The Strengths

I loved Wild Spaces. It's growing on me even more the longer it sits in my mind. In Wild Spaces, the main character is an 11 year old boy who I don't believe is ever named. His grandfather who has never been around shows up and things aren't right with the grandfather or at home.

The sea is one of my favorite elements in every single genre that I read. Wild Spaces incorporates the sea and it is disturbing! This novella hits hard at times.

The Weaknesses

I told you there was a dog and Wild Spaces is being compared to McCammon. I loved Wild Spaces, and I loved Teach (the dog). I usually blatantly spoil the fate of the dog, but this one is nuanced. The scenes with Teach won't be a hit with everyone that reads this, but the story in its entirety worked for me.

Would I recommend Wild Spaces to others?

Yes, absolutely. If you love horror and novella length works for you, I absolutely recommend Wild Spaces. I think I'd compare it to Chad Lutzke more than I'd compare it to McCammon so hold on to your heart and get ready to be disturbed by family and the sea.

4/5 stars


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  1. Alas, nothing will ever live up to Boys Life but this one does sound pretty good.

  2. That is a very cool cover. And I like the sound of Teach (but then I am a fan of dogs).

  3. Tentacles and the sea are usually a pretty good combo. I'm loving novellas lately.

  4. I was wondering about that cover since it looks like the dog is barking at the tentacles.

  5. I like the sound of this large part due to the dog named Teach...and it's also a great cover.

  6. You enjoyed this more than I did, but I did love Coney's writing, it was a heartbreaking, beautiful story.


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