The Wild

Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, illus. by Greg Ruth. Harper, $15.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-186317-2
Launching the Secret Journeys of Jack London series, Lebbon and Golden offer a gripping, gory alternate history of author London, adding supernatural threats to the earthly ones he's known to have faced in real life. Searching for gold in the Yukon Territory, ambitious 17-year-old Jack seeks to define himself on his own terms, liberated from his mother's embarrassing involvement with spiritualism ("Who is Jack London?" he repeatedly asks himself, hoping to find the answer in the wilds). When Jack and his companions, Jim and Merritt, hit the mining town of Dawson, Jim is killed and the others conscripted into a slave gang to pan for gold. That's when Lebbon and Golden exchange their adventure-survival story for one of psychological horror. In the ruthless but majestic wilderness, Jack encounters the legendary, cannibalistic Wendigo and the Russian forest lord Leshii, as well as his sirenlike daughter who sequesters Jack in her eerie, idyllic world. Ruth's handsome illustrations add a further haunting element to this adventure, which questions what it means to maintain one's humanity in the face of awesome forces both natural and uncanny. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 05/09/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
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