A girl on the run in a post-apocalyptic wilderness soon realizes that your past can not only haunt you, it can kill you.
Elka, now 17, can barely remember a time when she didn’t live deep in the woods of BeeCee (presumably British Columbia) with a man she calls Trapper. In the wake of a thunderhead, superstorms common after an unnamed Rapture-like event decimated the population, he rescued her at age 7 and taught her all the things a woodsy father does: hunting, shooting, skinning. But Trapper doesn’t just kill deer: he kills people. His real name, Elka learns, is Kreager Hallet, and he’s a wanted man, pursued relentlessly by the steely-eyed, six-shooter–carrying magistrate Jennifer Lyon, who’s so much a caricature from the Old West that it’s hard to take her seriously. Elka herself strains credulity, as Lewis attempts, unsuccessfully, to create a unique dialect—substituting, for example, “a’” for “of”—for a character whose motivations, and intellectual abilities, fluctuate wildly. When Elka discovers Hallet’s true nature—and that she’s on the hook for the killings, too—she sets off to find her real parents, who left her with her grandmother years earlier to go in search of gold. The enemies she encounters in nature (like a 600-pound brown bear) aren’t nearly as vile as the majority of humans she meets, save for the resourceful (and specifically literate) Penelope, Elka’s only true friend. But Hallet won’t let his little girl go without a fight.
A romp through the frozen woods on the trail of a killer who’s also hunting you can be satisfying, but this debut is a rabbit snare that comes up empty time and again.