Wild Things Will Roam, the debut novel by K.M. West, is a post-apocalyptic gore fest with a soul. The surprises don’t stop there.
The concept that the things that go bump in the night are still with us is reframed. The beasties are wearing new fangs in the wilds left behind by the destruction of our familiar order. The idea is handled so skillfully that the reader is left wondering what might already be staring back from the dark.
The story is written with a crystal clear prose that doesn’t hamper the reader’s experience. The style allows the characters to shine and the story to move forward unimpeded. In short, it was a pleasure to read. A genuine surprise is waiting in West’s fluid and graceful prose even while walking the reader through the horrors of Hell.
The horrors of Hell, it is. The landscape drawn by West is far from benign. Readers who have a history of trauma might want to bear this in mind. The story is a frightening look into what lies under the thin veneer of civilization. It explores not only the world post-disaster but also the consequences when that protection from the wild within our own nature is broken.
Within this brutal landscape, the story follows the struggles of a small group of people thrown together by happenstance – or is it fate?
That is the question that challenges one of the characters, Liv, throughout the story. How much of our action is self-determined versus what our circumstances lead us toward?
While Liv struggles with the concepts of something beyond the seen, others in the group offer varying levels of acceptance with the unknown. Liv’s guardian, Carian starts the novel as aware of the unseen. Lash, a protector, and guardian, takes the presence of an infinite plan for granted – perhaps he even sees it as his due. Ander, the younger brother to Lash, is so steeped in the ideas of some overarching other that he is often lost beyond the borders of reality. This causes him to act as something of a lightning rod between what is and what will.
But the question remains at the end, as we see everyone’s sense of the world has changed, is Ander led or deluded? What of his vision is true and what of it fantasy? It looks like we will have to wait for the next book in the series to find the answer.
I would consider buying the hardcover to have it on my library shelves. In a day of electronic consumption, this says more of how I feel about this work than all the analysis I can offer.