It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
This has sat on my TBR for a while now. I’m not sure what took me so long to pick it up, but I’m very glad I have. Wilder Girls has been described as a feminist Lord of the Files retelling. Personally, I have never read Lord of the Files but from what I know I can see the comparison. This is very much a world where you have to fend for yourself.
The Story and Characters
The girls on Raxter island have been put under quarantine due to the Tox. A disease that changes their bodies, kills some and damages the entire environment of the island. Conditions are harsh, there isn’t enough food or basic necessities and learning to shoot is an essential skill.
Hetty, Reese and Byatt are three of the girls. Fierce friends looking out for each other and getting by. For the first part of the story we are told everything from Hetty’s point of view and it is through her eyes, that we start to sense that maybe things are not quite as the girls have been told.
Once Byatt goes missing, we start to switch between Hetty’s point of view and Byatt’s. It really helped to evolve the story for me and we began to see just how the relationship between the girls works.
Life is hard for these girls and I thought I would find it hard to become emotionally involved in their story, that was not the case. It was easy to understand why they are like the way they are and I became very invested in their plight. In some respects, they are quite self-aware and sure of themselves, however, there is the underlying vulnerability that comes with being a teenager.
Raxter is a Tox invested island, the Tox is a disease that has devastating effects on the body. Rory Power has done a great job with the atmosphere of this book. It is not jump scare horror but it is gory, bloody and extremely creepy. This is skin crawling type horror. It gave me that itchy under your skin type feeling.
This was a fairly easy read for me. The pacing of this book is great, short chapters encourage you to keep reading (well they do me). I loved the way the story unfolded, the mystery behind what was going on was cleverly constructed and I genuinely had no idea how it was going to end. The ending left me with so many questions, who else has read this? Come find me on twitter I need to discuss it.
I will definitely be looking out for further books from Rory.
My thanks to the publishers for a copy of the book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.