The Wolf Road

The Wolf Road

by Beth Lewis


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Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper.

She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.
But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.
Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind—and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she’s been set on.
The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape—told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101906149
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 04/11/2017
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 435,588
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Beth Lewis is a managing editor at Titan Books in London. She was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and great white sharks. She has been a bank cashier, a fire performer, and a juggler.

Read an Excerpt

Ch 1 The End a’ Old Me

I sat up high, oak branch ’tween my knees, and watched the tattooed man stride about in the snow. Pictures all over his face, no skin left no more, just ink and blood. Looking for me, he was. Always looking for me. He left red drops in the white, fallen from his fish knife. Not fish blood though. Man blood. Boy blood. Lad from Tucket lost his scalp to that knife. Scrap of hair and pink hung from the man’s belt. That was dripping too, hot and fresh. He’d left the body in the thicket for the wolves to find.

I blew smoky breath into my hands.

“You’re a long way from home, Kreagar,” I called down.

The trees took my voice and scattered it to pieces. Winter made skeletons of the forest, see, made camouflage tricky ’less you know what you’re doing, and I know exactly what I’m doing. He weren’t going to find no tracks nor footprints nowhere in this forest what weren’t his, I know better’n that. Kreagar looked all around, up high and ’neath brushes, but I’ve always been good at hiding.

“Who’s that talkin’ at me out in the trees?” he shouted. His voice was like rubbing bone on bark. Something raw in it when he raged, but when he was kind it was soft rumbling that cut through a chill night. I didn’t want to think about him being kind no more. His kindness was lies and masks.

“Saw what you did to that boy,” I said, “saw where you put him. See his curly hair on your belt.”

Kreagar sniffed hard. Cold making his nose run into his beard. Teeth bared like one of them mountain bears. Didn’t even have a shirt on, never did when he did his killing. Blood splashed all over his chest, mingling with the tattoos and wiry black hair.

“That you, Elka girl? That my Elka playing squirrel in the trees?” he shouted.

“I ain’t yours,” I said, “never was, never gonna be.”

I took out my knife. Long blade, barbed saw teeth on the back, and staghorn handle.

Kreagar stamped around the forest, showing all the critters where he was, trailing blood like a damn invitation.

“Come down, give ol’ Kreag a hug. I’ve missed you.”

“I don’t think so. Think I’ll stay right where I am.”

His eyes searched the trees. Black as pitch them eyes, black as disease and disorder and hate and lies. He grinned, flat white teeth like gravestones, and twirled his little fish gutter in his fingers, flinging blood everywhere, rolling out the red carpet.

“Elka, you know I don’t mean you no harm.” His voice turned friendly. “I’d never hurt my Elka.”

He wandered around like a blind man, trudging through the snow, steam lifting off his body. Always hot after a killing. He was lean, carved out of wood some say, and but for the tattoos had a face you’d take home to your mother. He leaned up against a cottonwood tree, panting to keep the cold out, getting sick of hide-and-seek.

“Could a’ killed you a hundred times, girlie,” he said, slow. “Could a’ taken my pig sticker and cut your neck to navel while you slept. Could a’ peeled your skin off easy as boiled trout.”

I remembered all those years calling him Daddy and felt sick.

“Could a’ made my winter boots out of your back,” he carried on, voice getting more excited, smile getting bigger, like he was reeling off courses at a feast. “New belt out of your arms. Could a’ stuffed my mattress with your silky brown hair.”

He laughed and I felt sicker. He raised his knife, pointed it into the trees, right at my face though he didn’t know it.

“You’d make a fine pair of boots, Elka girl.”

Heard it all before but it didn’t stop the cold creeping up my back, cold that weren’t snow. Cold that weren’t ice and winter. I’d heard him say worse but never to me. I was still afraid of him, the things he’d done, the things he made me do. But damn if I wasn’t trying to turn it to good.“

All these months you been looking for me, Kreagar, and I found you first.”

I raised up my own knife. Weighted right nice for throwing. I told him in my head to stay there against the tree, told him don’t you move a muscle.

“I been worried something rotten for you, Elka. This world ain’t no place for a kid like you on your own. There are worse things than wolves in the dark. Worse things than me.”

But for the blood he could have been a normal Joe out on a stroll. But for the kid’s scalp swinging in the breeze, he could’ve been anyone. But he wasn’t. He was Kreagar Hallet. Murdering, kid-killing bastard Kreagar Hallet. Took me far too long to figure that out and no prettied-up words would change it now.

I stood up on the branch without making more’n a snowflake shudder and wound back my arm. Breathed out. Pictured him like a deer. Threw my knife with all the force I had, straight and true and hit him in that soft spot just below the collarbone. That metal went through his shoulder into that tree, pinned him hard, heard that wood thud you get during target practice. And I’d done a lot of target practice. Damn if that weren’t a perfect shot.

Hollered and howled he did, more out of shock than pain. Didn’t think his little Elka could throw that hard, I’ll bet. Kreagar shouted some things I daren’t repeat, some threats that shouldn’t see light of day. His own blood met the boy’s. The fat black lines on his chest now coated red, hot and steaming fresh in the cold.

He tried to pull it out, but I cut them barbs deep. He screamed like a dying sow when he tried.

“Get here, girl, I’m gonna rip you up!”

Still looking around for me, screaming up something fierce. He roared at me, filling the forest, making birds flee their nests, rabbits scrabble into their warrens, but he still couldn’t see me. Ghost I was in those woods. He’d taught me well.

“I’m gonna find you! I’m gonna kill you slow, Elka!

”I couldn’t help but laugh. I had him. Finally. Sprung the trap and caught me a rabid bear.

“Magistrate Lyon’s going to find you first,” I said. “Told her where you is and where the boy is too. She’ll see what you did to him. She’s been hunting you a long time, across mountains she’s gone, looking for you.”

That shut him up. Color drained right out of him. Nobody wants Lyon and her six-shooter on their tail, and Kreagar had for months. But then, so had I.

He started pleading, trying the friendly on me, but I wasn’t hearing it. Strands of spit hung off his beard, flaring out with every breath. I watched him until I heard the clomping horse hooves, kicking up snow and soil. Steam rising off hard-ridden flanks. I smiled. Magistrate Lyon and her lieutenants, here to bring in the bad guy. Another life and that bad guy could a’ been me.

No reward, of course; gold don’t mean nothing to me no more, only life got value in my mind.

I saw them coming through the trees, Kreagar still stuck and hollering, panicking and pulling on the handle, that blood trail leading them right to his feet.

Lyon’s smarter than Kreagar, got eyes like a sparrow hawk, she’d see me in half a breath and she’d take me too for what I done. She’d have questions. Big ones I didn’t feel much like answering.

Kreagar heard them hooves, heard them whinnying mares. His eyes went wide like a buck about to be shot, and that’s when I got to leave it up to the law. Shame about the knife. That skinned me many a rabbit and marten, saved my life more’n once too. A good knife is hard to come by, about as hard as finding a good person in this damned country. When your life is your only currency and you got debts to pay, a good knife can make all the difference. I might’ve lost my blade, but I paid my debt. Lyon shouldn’t come looking for me no more. Unless a’ course, Kreagar tells her the truth.

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The Wolf Road: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The voice of the book but once you do it iis a marcabe story that is hard to put down
tizay16 More than 1 year ago
After seeing a few other reviews about how some didn't like it, way too depressing, etc., I was expecting the book to be a dark, post-apocalyptic thriller with less thrill and more gloominess. As it turned out, I ended up not being able to put the book down. It definitely isn't for the faint of heart but I think it's too drastic to say it was too gory and violent. I really enjoyed the way the author used Elka's POV throughout the novel and you can clearly see how her thoughts and mind-set matures as she gets older and experiences different things. Lewis used many themes throughout the novel that each had a very potent effect and intertwined nicely until the very end - broken families, American Dream, culture, human instinct, survival, importance/respect for nature, family, friendship, love, murder, violence.. these were just a few she hit. Each chapter left you with wondering what was next and kept me from putting the book down and losing sleep just to find out what happens. There are many instances when you don't know whether to root for Elka or crucify her. Definitely a great read!
DarqueDreamer More than 1 year ago
The Wolf Road will take you on a journey of survival in the wild. You will be on the edge of your seat with this page turner. This one is full of danger, betrayal, and murder. “The world didn’t change. There is still murder, still rape and fighting.” (Lewis, 239). The Plot: At just 7 years old, Elka loses her home to a tornado. Lost and hungry, wandering in the woods, she comes across Trapper, who takes her in and teaches her how to survive in the wild of the post-apocalyptic world. Trapper becomes all she knows for 10 years, like a father figure, when suddenly her world is turned upside down by a gun slinging law woman. Elka learns the horrible truth about Trapper and his murdering ways and decides to take her chance in the wild, alone. On her journey to find her parents, who left her with her Nana when she was little, she comes across the dangers of the immorality of men, all while being hunted by her Trapper. In the end, will she survive? I was thoroughly impressed by this book. Beth Lewis did an amazing job in making me feel like I was in the middle of the woods with Elka. Told through Elka’s perspective and language, I felt connected to her. The story was believable and developed so well! I really felt like I was in the middle of the woods, surviving alongside Elka, and being hunted by Trapper/Kreager at the same time. The relationship between Elka and Trapper was that of a mentor and apprentice. His character was so good at hiding his true inner evil and making Elka believe that he cared for her and wanted to teach her his ways. “Trapper saw the wild in me and didn’t try to tame it or cage it like my nana done.” (Lewis, 20). Elka was an amazingly written character. Even at the age of 7, she was fierce and wild. She was strong and brave, a true survivor. As she grows, we begin to see that she has a good sense of morality and right and wrong. “If I’d killed him right there on that railing, no weapon in his hand, I’d be no better’n Kreager.” (Lewis, 135). Elka is able to overcome the odds of the world and the wild. She shows amazing woodsman skills and survivalist characteristics. She becomes emotionally hardened for a while, and for good reason, but eventually opens up to an intriguing character named Penelope, and a wolf. “Felt tears in my eyes as this wild thing, this old-world creature, decided I was good enough to be friends.” (Lewis, 88). Penelope comes in to the picture about halfway through the book or so. She comes off as mild and meek in the beginning, but we see a change in her through her journey with Elka. Penelope is a bit mysterious because we don’t get her full backstory until the end, but she seems to have morals and a good heart. “Could a’ screwed me over a hundred times but she’s got one a’ them pure hearts.” (Lewis, 297). Our villain in this story was definitely a mysterious, intriguing sort. We meet him in the beginning as Trapper, the woodsman who takes Elka in, gives her a home and teaches her the ways of surviving. Once we learn the truth of the awful things he’s done, he becomes Kreager Hallet, murderer and cannabalist. He becomes the cat in the “cat and mouse” game that is The Wold Road. We slowly learn of the true evil in his heart and soul and begin to realize that he intended for Elka to follow in his footsteps, on his path, the whole time. “You been walking my wolf road all your life, Elka girl, clawing and biting right on my heels, begging for scraps and teaching and I gave ’em both. I gave
Twink More than 1 year ago
I've been perusing some of those 'best books of the year' lists as 2016 draws to a close. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis was on one of those lists. And I knew I had a copy buried in the TBR pile. Well.....I should have read it the minute it arrived. What a fantastic read! And I absolutely agree with the 'best of' designation! Sometime in the future - after the apocalyptic 'Big Damn Stupid' has happened - the world has carried on. But in BeeCee it has reverted back to a wild west, frontier law, fend for yourself society. And it is into this world that our protagonist is born. Lost in the woods as a seven year old, she is found and raised by a man she calls Trapper. He names her Elka. It's a hard life, but Elka grows into a proficient survivalist, able to fend for herself in the woods. Life seems destined to continue the way it has until Elka sees a wanted poster in town - with Trapper's face on it. It seems that Trapper hunts more than wild game. Now on the run from him and hoping to find her long lost parents up in the gold fields, Elka encounters what the world has now become. Desperate, dirty and dangerous. What a protagonist! Her thoughts, voice and actions as she makes her way north held me spellbound. I was on the edge of my seat constantly as Lewis threw up one more situation and then another and another for Elka. (And I'm going to admit here, I broke my own rule - I peeked ahead more than once. I just couldn't stand the tension!) Lewis's setting was instantly recognizable for this reader - the book is set in British Columbia (BeeCee) Couver (Vancouver) is also mentioned. What a unique genre - apocalyptic, western, thriller. Love, love, loved it. True Grit meets Hanna meets Winter's Bone. I really hope that Beth Lewis is hard at work on her next novel.
Bookworm_Babblings More than 1 year ago
This book took me completely by surprise. I felt for Elka as. she learned about the man that had raised her for ten years. I found myself yelling at her every time she got herself in trouble, and cheering her on as she escapes danger. I was also moved to tears as Elka's memories resurface and she realizes her part in the murders. This was a fantastic thriller with lots of of twists and turns. This is definitely one of my favorite reads this year.
AvidReader614 More than 1 year ago
I received this audio book from LibraryThings Early Reviewers for an honest review. This book was very good. It has so many different aspects I can not actually put it in one genre. I'm not one to read thrillers or dystonia type books so if I put it in that category someone might pass on it. If I say it is futuristic and about murder and survival again you might pass. We could also loosely say it's about loyalty, friendship, women, and nature. What I can say is that it held my interest and I was glad to get back to sewing each day to continue the story. The audio narrator did a great job which sometimes is not the case. I have been finished with this book for over 3 weeks and I still think about it. This would make a great book club pick. Lots of juicy topics to discuss!
daniellelynn22 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars The Wolf Road is told entirely through Elka's point of view. Which is great because Elka is one of the best protagonists I have read this year. Elka is tough, concise, and frankly badass. After losing her nana in a storm Elka stumbles through the woods and is taken in by a man who will not give her his name. She begins refering to him as Trapper and he starts showing her how to survive in the woods. "Trapper was the kind a' family you choose for yourself, the kind that gets closer than blood." When Elka finds out that Trapper is not the man she believed him to be she flees into the woods in search of her parents who left her behind so many years ago. As Elka flees towards her new future memories from her past keep haunting her. "Trapper told me once that your head can protect you if something truly bad happens. It can make black spots and empty places what should be filled with horror. I figure thats what my head had done... Those doors would open one day and everything come at me, like a thunderhead rolling over the mountains. Soon it would hit and nothing would be the same." A dark, compelling debut by Beth Lewis that will hook you in from the start. With a strong plot and well developed characters this book hits the mark. "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review." LewisThe Wolf Road
Ink_Stained_Angel More than 1 year ago
Debby43 More than 1 year ago
I feel this is one of those books you should go into knowing little to nothing about. It was so well written. I felt that Beth Lewis had the character’s nature and language down pat. This story has a really bad villain in it, yet he isn’t the main focus of the book. The whole story focuses on the young girl he trained to be his daughter and submissive. There is some slight foreshadowing in the book but it wasn’t over bearing. Elka lives with her grandma since her parent’s took off to stake a claim in what would be a gold rush. I’m not sure what era this is supposed to be since it’s such a mash up of era’s. Elka’s grandma is more of a tough love sort. She doesn’t seem to happy to have her around getting in the way. One day a big storm comes and sweeps Elka away. She lands in the forest far from home. She has no idea where to go except she must try to get to town. While she is in the woods she comes across a hut that has jerky hanging. She is so hungry she doesn’t care who it belongs too. Then enter’s Trapper he seems to take a liking to Elka. Trapper comes off as a super scary guy. He teaches Elka everything he knows about hunting and living in the woods. One day Elka runs into a lawman who tell’s her who Trapper really is and Elka is on the run. Ooops guess I just kind of gave you a synopsis but honestly I loved Elka’s character. She is one of those strong young women who talks with almost what I imagine a backwoods accent. She just does what needs done. You would almost assume at some points that she doesn’t have any feelings. However once she meets people along her journey you see she does care. I really wish the Wolf of wolf road would’ve been in it a little longer. She is just trying to live minute by minute because she is being hunted by someone who doesn’t care whom he hurts. The thoughts this poor girl has while be hunted are awful. I can’t imagine having to think about being hunted for days/weeks at a time. I can’t even believe that she slept at all. This book was constantly moving with all the twists and turns.. Here’s a little snippet..
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
I love a nicely told dark story and that is exactly what I got with this book. I really liked that the story is told from a very unique voice although I would imagine that not all readers will enjoy Elka's rough speech as I did. I thought that the world that this book was set in felt very vivid and realistic. This is a brutal story but also one of hope. Elka meets some wonderful people on her journey and works to improve her own future. I think that this story is one that will stay with me for a while. The story is set after the apocalypse. The world that Elka knows is rather brutal and the living conditions can be harsh. In many ways, her life was very reminiscent of the pioneer days. The book really had an Old West feel for me. When Elka is separated from her grandmother, she stumbles on to Trapper's cabin and he takes her in. She learns the skills to survive in this harsh land from Trapper, who she thinks of as a father. Her world is turned upside down when she learns that he is actually a serial killer. Elka begins her journey to find her parents as soon as she learns the truth about the man she has grown to think of as her daddy. Along the way she finds herself in a lot of tough situations. She even gains a friend or two during her travels in addition to a wolf. Her path is anything but boring with one problem popping up right after the another. The excitement of the story never really slowed down for me. This story is told completely from Elka's point of view. One thing to note is that the story is told as if Elka were speaking. She has a very distinctive dialect which may not work for all readers. I actually liked Elka's speech and thought that it made the story feel even more genuine. I would highly recommend this book to others. It is a story that was often violent and gory but could also be thoughtful at times. I am amazed that this is the author's debut novel and I look forward to reading more of Beth Lewis's writing in the future. I received a copy of this book from Wunderkind PR, Crown Publishing, and First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.
LuluRoadsideReader More than 1 year ago
A serial killer raising a young orphan girl in a post apocalyptic landscape? You’ve already got me sucked in! The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis was one of the books I have been most excited about reading this year and it certainly lived up to the hype! This book was absolutely, devastatingly amazing. Cruel, yet oddly uplifting. The book gives you a glimpse at the end, then turns back to show you how everything unraveled to that point. Elka, who never really remembers her name, is a young adult/late teenager but still seems young in mind. Her arrested development likely comes from the fact that she was raised by Trapper, a serial killer with a reason behind his killings. What’s that reason? I think most can guess what it is pretty early on, but I won’t spoil it here. Elka narrates the book and we see early on just how unreliable she can be as a narrator. She can’t even remember her birth name. She says she never knew that Trapper was a murderer, yet she believed it once she was told and knows she went on a hunt once with him, to catch a deer. The fact that everyone but Elka realizes certain things, such as “why” (or as close to why as we can get) Trapper kills, and why Trapper decides to keep Elka alive and raise her, when she can’t is so tragically sad. We see her mind slowly unravel as the psychogenic amnesia begins to wear off the farther away she gets from Trapper, or better said, the closer he gets to her. Once she breaks down all of the mental barriers she has set up, the end result is heartbreaking and cruel to where the reader only wants to do what Penelope does, hug her, hold her, and tell her it’s okay. YOU’RE OKAY. Beth Lewis does an amazing job of explaining the story and what happened to this fractured world Elka is a part of while still remaining true to Elka’s voice. The Damn Stupid. Sudden “thunderheads” that are like tornadoes picking apart everything in its path and throwing it like a toddler does his toys. A cold war gone nuclear and survivors living in the aftermath as best they can. Lewis creates this broken world that feels so real, you can almost hear the crunch of the snow as people trudge through it and see the fog of breath escape. It’s such a vivid landscape, yet as I said earlier, it all remains true to Elka’s voice. None of it sounds like the author interposing herself suddenly in the story, unless it’s via other characters, such as Penelope. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis is an absolutely tremendous post-apocalyptic novel. If you’ve read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, the feeling you get reading The Wolf Road seems almost opposite. In McCarthy’s work, you feel that somehow things will be okay and it isn’t maybe as dark until you get further in, whereas The Wolf Road, you immediately have a sense of dread, knowing what will happen to the protagonist/antihero and sincerely cannot imagine it ending well at all. // I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review //
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I wanted so many times to put this book down in the beginning. It took about 40% of the book for it to get interesting for me. Not counting the first chapter, of course. Then it started slowing down again. Not as bad as the beginning, but a slower pace than you would think when reading about a girl on the run from the law. A lot of this had to do with Elka trying to remember and figure out her past. Her story was a sad one and I really felt for her. However with the blurbs, I was expecting a more fast paced read. This wasn't it. It was a good story, just not what I was expecting. Thanks to Crown Publishing and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.