All Things Left Wild

Blackstone. Jun. 2020. 287p. ISBN 9781982601058. $27.99. F
[DEBUT] Wade’s first novel follows brothers Caleb and Shelby Bentley, who go on the run after killing young Henry Dawson during a horse theft in 1910. Randall Dawson, the boy’s father, is reluctantly forced to pursue them. While the Bentleys get involved with the Lobos, an outlaw doomsday cult led by a charismatic ex-Ranger, Randall meets Charlotte Washington, a Black woman who’s handy with a gun and who teaches him all he needs to know. The story ranges over many historical themes and introduces a wide variety of characters, from Easterners to Mexican ranchers to land speculators. The plot is complex and the writing stylized, but the story suffers slightly from some clichéd characterizations.
VERDICT Mixing classic Western tropes with current concerns, this literary historical has a contemporary edge. With its lyrical language and philosophical asides, it may appeal mostly to readers of Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses or Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers.

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