Wicked River

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I have loved the opportunity to spend time researching novels to re-stockl our senior bookshelves in the school library that plays a central role in the life of the school. When I first took over the library was filled with dusty tomes that were never borrowed and languished there totally unloved.
Books like this, play a central role in ensuring that the library is stocked with fresh relevant fiction that appeals to the readers. It has a strong voice and a compelling plot that ensures that you speed through its pages, enjoying both its characterisation and dialogue whilst wanting to find out how all of its strands will be resolved by the end.
I have no hesitation in adding this to the 'must buy' list so that the senior students and staff of the school can enjoy it as much as I did. This is a gripping read that will be sure to grip its readers whether they are fans of this genre or coming to it for the first time through our now-thriving school library recommendation system. Thanks so much for allowing me to review it!
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Thank you Netgalley, the publisher and Jenny Milchman.
Great thriller which I could not put down. Thank you for this great read.
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**I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review**

What can I say? After about one year of waiting on my kindle, I gave this one a try and honestly, it could've waited a few more years. For me, there was too much exposition and not enough dialogue. Too much high concept and not enough action. And then there's the chapters from Mia's POV that made me cringe. I could've done without any of them - they added nothing to the story.

In the end, it wasn't for me. I found the concept intriguing, but the story lacking.

2 stars.
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Overwritten and boring with cheesy language describing sexual encounters. The story is too slow moving. I felt like the characters where never getting anywhere. Boring, one-dimensional characters and no plot to speak of.  I have never read a book by this author before and I am not sure I am going to pick up another.  I don't see why a story should be driven by a 13 year old niece.
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I have been a fan of Jenny Milchman since she first arrived on the scene. With every thriller, she ups her game, and with Wicked River, she has pushed the boundaries of suspense and thrillers. A non-stop psychological thriller with characters you'll want to fight for and want to fight.

Not to be missed!
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A psycho killer and a couple on a honeymoon are what constitutes this book. The initial chapters didn’t promise anything good, because- sloppy characters, stupid decisions and a killer in the woods. I felt like all the cards being laid in from of me in a game I would rather quit.
Apart from this, there are other characters who have zero contribution to the actual plot and most of they are egoistic or whiny.
Natalie is going for an adventure because she wants to share a life with ‘her husband’ Doug. Even when she knows this isn’t her cup of tea and she is a crybaby at every instant. Doug is shady, basically, everything he does is either creepy or strange. All that and Natalie still can’t believe that Doug is finally ‘her husband’. Or the author things we are not buying their relationship because all we see is a woman unsure of everything she is doing and an over-adventurous husband.
Next, we talk about the psycho killer, who is making elaborate plans and these two married people walk right into it. What happens next is a story I would rather not repeat.
Wicked River was exhausting. Even with good storytelling and crazy characters, the story failed to impress me at a lot of levels. Maybe it's not my cup of tea.
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This is a hard one to review for me. It was good as far as thrillers go, pretty tense, and even a bit scary, but I had trouble suspending disbelief quite a lot. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC.
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This book gave me another reason to not go camping. 

You can feel the tension right from the beginning because you just KNOW that this trip isn't going to end well, even though it seems like a perfectly nice camping trip in the beginning. It is so easy to be immersed in this story, and the pacing makes this an extremely fast read. Once I started this, I couldn't put it down!

Though all the characters aren't likeable, at all, they are still well thought out, and even the ones that I really did like had flaws. I disliked Doug, the husband, from the very beginning, but I still enjoyed him as a character. And the crazy man in the woods? He is such a great antagonist, and it was so interesting to be able to learn how his mind worked, and why he acted the way he did.

If you love thrillers or lots of action, especially in an outdoor setting, this is a book you really shouldn't miss!
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Book blurb...
Six million acres of Adirondack forest separate Natalie and Doug Larson from civilization. For the newlyweds, an isolated, back country honeymoon seems ideal: a chance to start their lives together with an adventure, on their own.  But just as Natalie and Doug begin to explore the dark interiors of their own hearts, as well as the depths of their love for each other, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods.  
Because six million acres makes it easy for the wicked to hide. And even easier for someone to go missing for good. 
As they struggle with the worst the wilderness has to offer, a man watches them, wielding the forest like a weapon. And once they are near his domain, he will do everything in his power to make sure they never walk out again.

My thoughts…
A novel that keeps you captive until the last page.
This plot is sinister, suspenseful and had me on the trail with Natalie and Doug.  It is not unusual for me to wake during the night and reach for my Kindle because I can often ‘read myself back to sleep'. Wicked River is not that kind of book. Once back in the wilderness, there was no sleeping—not until those parts set in the city with Natalie's niece. (I did not like being taken away from the wilderness and the suspense, so I did find myself skipping sections.) 
A great read if you are into suspense, but not if you are planning a hike through the wilderness. Schedule this one AFTER your trip!
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This book started off very strong and then trundled along the Wicked River like a rowing boat on a Sunday outing on the lake.

From the prologue about a woman being chased through the woods we're transported to Natalie and Doug's wedding and subsequent honeymoon. Natalie is a not very likeable character.

Doug and Nat go on a canoeing trip for their honeymoon. And, although the Adirondacks cover a large area, they are not alone out there. There's this man with his machete,... 

Sadly, the thrill of the whole story is being taken away from the start. Who ever came up with the revealing title "Saved" for part 4 of the book?

I wanted to like this book, but the prologue was the most thrilling part of the story for me.
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Wicked River is reminiscent of Deliverance! Jenny Milchman penned a thrilling roller coaster ride of a story!
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Sorry for the delay. I did the review but forget to send it via net galley
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Wicked River started off very strong with an action-packed chapter that dropped you right into the crux of the story--and then it quickly went downhill. Natalie is a two-dimensional character on a charitable, good day. The introduction to her bland thoughts and perfunctory dead-mother-created-overbearing-sister-and-actionless-father really ruined the goodwill the first chapter earned. I'm 33 and I believe Natalie is a few years younger than me, but the way she and her soon-to-be-husband, Doug, speak, you would think they were in their 50's...back in the 50's.

"Natalie had to blink from the sheer overwhelm of their stare."
"...in the good old US of A..."
"That's the rub."
"You can't tell lie after lie...then expect a do-over like life is an Xbox game."

Maybe the author is older and had trouble writing across ages, because Natalie's 13-year-old niece, Mia, has some unforgivably bad dialogue, such as:

"The dull, old-timey musicians left, and now a DJ was playing something by some hip band."
"The hot, hip camps where Mia's friends were going..."
"It was as if the wedding had taken her off for much longer than a weekend, a voyage in the old-fashioned sense of the world. Sailing ships and unchartered destinations."
"She decided she's even be willing to try Facebook--what a loser site..."
"Kicking things old school. IRL and all that."
One of my favorites had to be a 2018 book that has a teenage girl who lives in NYC saying, "...connected as they were to their iPods..." She may as well have told them to get off her lawn and turn down that loud record player.

The first half of the book was more stilted dialogue from one of the worst couples I've read. They had zero chemistry, even if the author insisted that they were intensely and passionately in love. They had been together for three years and he had never called her a pet name as pure as "honey" before? I didn't care about either of them or their relationship, and impatiently waited for Kirk to finally enter the story.

Once the real reason for their trip revealed itself, I did find myself more engaged. And once Kirk was introduced to them, I started to actively enjoy the book for the first time. His deliberate dialogue and actions, and Natalie's reactions to them, were genuinely interesting. I just wish they had been together for longer. Mia's point of view was frustrating and an unwelcome break from the central plot every time. As far as I can tell, her only role in the book was to get her mom nervous about the fact that Natalie hadn't come back yet, which, if her characterization was anywhere near accurate, she would have realized on her own quickly. 

Overall, I did not enjoy Wicked River and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The writing was outdated, the characters were dull, and the first half dragged on far too long. I did, however, find Kirk an interesting antagonist and would have like to read more from his perspective.
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Wicked River kicks off with a bang, before introducing us to the main storyline of Natalie and Doug - newlyweds making their honeymoon trip through the Adirondacks. It's not long before the promised tension begins to ratchet, and we realise that it wasn't just nature that they were unprepared to face...

While I had fun with this story, there were some flaws that really got in the way - as other reviewers have mentioned, Mia's sections just didn't work, and Natalie could use a good injection of spine! But the suspense is well done, and there are some classic and satisfying horror movie elements that were employed to my great enjoyment (never trust the backwoods jerky. Never!). The characters were well drawn and the writing, while not always consistent in quality, really shone in places.

Overall, if you're a fan of this kind of genre, you'll have a good time with this book. Just keep in mind the wise words of the ladies of the My Favorite Murder podcast - "Get a job, buy your own shit, and STAY OUT OF THE FOREST."
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Wicked River. What can I even say? Firstly, I waffled between a 1- versus a 2-star rating. Ultimately, I decided on 2-stars because it makes me feel bad to give anything a 1-star unless it has offensive or inappropriate content. This one wasn't offensive it was just not my cup of tea. At all. This book and I just did NOT get along. The good news, I actually made it through the entire thing, so there's that.

I knew within the first 30-pages that perhaps this wasn't going to be the strongest story for me but I trudged on because I had hopes that it would get better. The premise sounds great. The execution of said premise, not so much. It kicks off at the wedding of our two main characters, Natalie and Doug, which was cheese-factor level TEN and had me audibly scoffing over the dialogue and lame characters. Then they head off on the their honeymoon, a trek into the wilderness on a hiking / canoe trip for which I feel neither of them was even remotely prepared.

The main characters dumbass choices aside, we also have a psycho guy living in the woods whose odd perspective we get every couple of chapters. Then there is a 13-year old whiny girl, Mia, the niece of Natalie, whose perspective we also get which was completely disjointed for me from the rest of the story. Oh, yah, and there is this totally unrealistic side plot involving Doug's childhood friends that contributes to the story as well.

I don't know, for me, the whole thing was just a mess. I couldn't stand Natalie. She was so weak. All she seemed to care about was 'her husband' - she admits to losing any friends she ever had because all she cared about was being with him. She could barely scrounge together two bridesmaids for her wedding and tells us they were literally the bottom of the barrel who would probably disappear again into nothingness once the wedding was over. She let Doug make all of her decisions and just goes along to go along, I guess. She was horrible - I wanted her to be lost in the woods.

Now, let's talk about the term 'her husband. This had to have been in the book 1,027,432 times. If I ever hear that again, I am going to punch the speaker in the face. This is not a quote but to give you and idea what I'm talking about, it would go a little something like this, 'her husband forged ahead through the trees. Her husband's arms easily broke through the branches so much better than hers ever could because her husband was so much bigger and stronger than she was. Natalie felt so happy that her husband would be willing to go ahead so that she could drift along unscathed behind him.' If reading this makes you go, what? Yah, it's like that. This book is 464 pages long and I think it could have been edited down to 300 if the term 'her husband' had been taken out.

I have no clue who I would recommend this to - maybe someone who doesn't read a lot or is new to the 'thriller' genre; although, I am not even sure I would classify this as a thriller. There was nothing really thrilling about it. It kind of took the suspense out of it when the 4th part of a 4 part book is titled, Saved. Really? No other word could have been chosen to title Part 4? You get there and are like, 'geeeee, I wonder if Natalie and Doug will be SAVED????'

I would like to thank the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I do always appreciate the opportunity to provide my feedback. This one just wasn't for me but as we all know there are readers for every story!
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for allowing me to review this book.  I am torn with this book.  It was semi-interesting.  The plot was pretty interesting, but the big drawback is that the characters are pretty shallow.  I have a hard time getting into a book when I don't feel connected to the characters.  If you like a good fast-moving plot, you may enjoy this one.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the Publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this book in return for my honest opinion.

When I read this blurb on this book, I decided to read this book after my hiking/camping vacation and it turns out that was a good idea. lol.  Creepy book, great solid storyline, next time we are alone in the woods camping, you want to bet this book will come back into my head.  Talk about honeymoon gone wrong.  I liked the story and the characters but felt that some of the story was un-needed and added nothing to the story.  There could have been a little more action but overall a good read.  Will definitely check out more books by this author.
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4.5 stars

Wicked River
Jenny Milchman
Sourcebooks Landmark, May 2018
ISBN 978-1-4926-6441-3

From the publisher—

Six million acres of Adirondack forest separate Natalie and Doug Larson from civilization. For the newlyweds, an isolated backcountry honeymoon seems ideal-a chance to start their lives together with an adventure. But just as Natalie and Doug begin to explore the dark interiors of their own hearts, as well as the depths of their love for each other, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods.

Because six million acres makes it easy for the wicked to hide. And even easier for someone to go missing for good.

As they struggle with the worst the wilderness has to offer, a man watches them, wielding the forest like a weapon. He wants something from them more terrifying than death. And once they are near his domain, he will do everything in his power to make sure they never walk out again.

Many, many years ago when I was a teenaged Girl Scout, my troop traveled from Virginia to New Hampshire so we could hike a 50-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail through the White Mountains, ending at the summit of Mt. Washington where you can find some of the most extreme weather imaginable. We were experienced hikers and campers and had trained hard for this adventure which turned out to be wonderful except for one night. During the day, we had separated into two groups because some of us were more energetic than others and the slower group, the one I was in, took the wrong path at a fork, not long before dusk. Hours later, we were undoubtedly lost and we had to spend most of the night in the wilds until a team of rescuers showed up. Needless to say, we were humiliated but, still, it was an adventure for sure so I’d have to say we all felt an array of emotions from embarrassment to elation and I still remember it with a good deal of clarity.

All that came to mind while I was reading Wicked River and I think allowed me to have a real connection with Natalie and Doug during their ordeal, especially Natalie. It’s a different forest, of course, and the Whites are generally considered to be the most challenging and formidable terrain in the Northeast but wilderness is wilderness, no matter where it is and especially so for Natalie who was only minimally prepared for this honeymoon trip.

Natalie is a really interesting character because she’s so much like most of us. Her experience in wilderness trekking is limited but she wants to please Doug who loves this sort of thing. That doesn’t mean that she’s been talked into the trip against her will; far from it, although she does have reservations about her abilities even after a certain amount of training and preparation. In short, she’s you and me, setting off on an adventure with more than a little trepidation but she’s still looking forward to it.

What Natalie and Doug don’t know but we do is that there’s a truly dangerous man in this part of the Adirondacks. As Natalie prepares for her wedding, we get a hint of something being not quite right, actually several somethings, and, at the same time, we meet Natalie’s niece, Mia. This teenager can be monumentally annoying but I liked her and it’s a good thing since she’s going to become very important later on.

Jenny Milchman is a master at wilderness settings and this one is no exception. Instead of crippling cold, which the author does extremely well, Wicked River plants us in the midst of heat and alarming sounds and smells as well as the frightening sense of aloneness and being truly lost. None of that even begins to reflect the menace coming up behind them nor what Natalie will have to do if there’s any hope of survival.

Well done, Ms. Milchman—once again, you’ve kept me up at night because I couldn’t stop reading 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2018.
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Interesting, I really enjoyed this book, it had intrigue and suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
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Natalie and Doug are newly weds still learning about each other. Doug seems to have had a shady past along with his two best friends. Natalie is determined to make their marriage work and agrees to set out on an outdoors adventure in the Adirondacks for their honeymoon despite having limited camping experience.
Kurt is a man with issues living a lonely existence off the land ie until campers or hikers stumble across his outdoor home. When he meets the couple he is excited to have company and it wont be for the right reasons.
Shortly after setting out Doug loses their GPS and they discover a man’s body shot through the head. They realize they are probably lost with a murderer looking for them.
This seemed a complicated storyline combining a newly married couple with poor communication, an insane killer and some sort of illegal activity.
Kurt went to a lot of trouble keeping people away from his ‘home’ when not many came through his woods. He craved company for more than just company’s sake.
Natalie and her husband were an odd couple. She seemed to walk on eggshells around Doug in an almost desperate way and I guess her past had a lot to do with that behavior. Doug appeared distracted at times and keeping some sort of secret from his bride.
I had my suspicions about Doug’s past and found out I was not far from the truth.
Be prepared for some cruel acts as you read this outdoors mystery thriller.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free digital copy of this book in return for an honest review
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