The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury
A natural-born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.
But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.
Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.
It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.
Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?
I have always had a knack for knowing the minds of dogs. Dad says it’s on account of the way I come into the world, born in the open doorway of our kennel, with twenty-two pairs of canine eyes watching and the barks and howls of our dogs the first thing I ever heard.
Tracy is an excellent musher, hunter, and trapper, in the wilds of Alaska, but she is lacking significantly in social skills. She has a secret that her late mother passed down to her that has made her a loner, to her father’s vexation. Her cravings are getting worse and the stranger, Jesse, who showed up out of nowhere has brought another secret that could destroy her life altogether.
This is a pretty dark, intense and emotional story, and I wish I could say I loved it, but not every book is going to be enjoyed by everyone. The writing is really great, but for me, it is too descriptive and lengthy. Also, Tracy’s affliction is never explained fully and I can’t really describe it without giving the plot away, so I have to leave other potential readers in the dark as well. What I can say is that it is a coming of age novel set in Alaska which includes dog sledding, hunting, and an unexplained eery element.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Illinois, Jamey Bradbury moved to Alaska and has stayed for fifteen years, leaving briefly to earn her MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. A winner of an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, her fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Sou’wester, and Zone 3, and she has written for the Alaska Dispatch News, TheBillfold.com, and StorySouth. Jamey lives in Anchorage.