Remi Bell grew up in an abusive household that left scars so deep he doesn’t think he can feel them anymore because he doesn’t feel anything. He’s in college now and he has two close friends, Cooper and Etta, but Remi doesn’t truly feel like he belongs anywhere. When Cooper’s girlfriend, Fern, pokes at the hidden parts of Remi, he starts to question where his life is going. With Fern as their guide, Remi and his friends head to the forests of Norway to a community that appears to Remi to be a cult.
When Remi meets the older compound leader, Theo, all those little empty places start to click into place for Remi. But learning about the rituals and the secrets and the rules is something that Remi has to earn, while being asked to fight and hunt. Remi is questioning everything, and he is becoming fearful of Kipp, Theo’s right-hand man, but Theo feels like home.
Deep Black Wild has a then and now format to it at times, and it starts us in the past with a young boy. The story then moves to now and we meet Remi. The story is designed to make you keep up in the beginning and I did like the effect of feeling unbalanced at first.
The first third of this book had me wrapped up in it to see where it was going. Then, it seems like book tried to be many things, but didn’t successfully hit those marks for me. Remi was an intriguing character at first, but he wasn’t fully developed enough for me. He has an abusive and violent past, but there wasn’t enough depth given to it to make the impact needed, and I found that with all the other characters as well. Each character has a big story and the book itself has a big story, but we are only given a small piece of it.
Theo was a character that remained too mysterious for too long. Sure, we know the basics, but the full reveal came too late in the book for me with not much to then back up his character. To have a character like him, Theo needed to have more than the shell he was given as an unreliable narrator. There are a lot of things that happen in this book, some on a large scale, a lot of it off page with a lot of movement, but there were jumps in time that needed to be filled in more to make this all work for me. There were secondary characters as well that played important roles, like Fern and Kipp, but again, at the end there wasn’t enough given to fill in all the holes the story created as it moved along. Some of the setting takes place in Norway, but the group is so isolated in the forest they could have been anywhere and while the forest was important, calling out Norway seemed less so.
In its most basic form, this is a story of the struggle to find a place to belong. While we do see some of that here, ultimately this story is all struggle and Remi is given more and more to overcome. Which leads me to something that may be considered a spoiler, so I will tag it as such:
I do like the writing style of the author and the overall tone. But, in order to make a book like this work for me, I needed more and I needed a reason why this story took place and I didn’t get that. I was fine with what was under the spoiler, but then to make this book work, I needed the author to make me believe in the reason for it all. Deep Black Wild had potential as it started, but then didn’t follow through to create an entire story.