the wild dead by carrie vaughn
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Release Date: July 17, 2018
3 / 5 Stars | Review by Squid
Feminism meets dystopia in Vaughn’s The Wild Dead, when investigator Enid of Haven is called upon to mediate a dispute over a dilapidated dwelling—a relatively simple mater until the body of a young woman washes up on shore. Aside from being brutally murdered, the woman does not belong to the Coast Road colony and instead is clearly a member of “the wild folk,” a group of people living beyond the boundaries of the isolated communities of future civilization. Moral questions are explored as Enid seeks to uncover the murderer and find justice in a world recovering from environmental and economic collapse.
A sequel to the Philip K. Dick-award winning Bannerless, Vaughn’s The Wild Dead provides a grim version of the future with characters that are as unremarkable and hostile as the territories in which they struggle to survive. Often plodding, the novel seems brittle in places, and feels off balance in execution of past and present references, particularly to new readers of the series who may find this version of the future a bit more quaint than typical in dystopian fiction.
What is more successful is the story’s protagonist, Enid, a woman driven as much by principles as by a sense of duty and fairness. Likewise, Vaughn’s focus on the complexities of sisterhood, motherhood, and community provides ample fodder to kindle a slow-burning thrill, juxtaposing the fall of one house against the rise of another, and the heartbreaks and triumphs of motherhood.
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advance review copy.