A death-defying Bolivian adventure in the primordial forest...starring a homeless teenager from Boston who just might be a shaman.
Sleeping late isn't an option in the jungle. By the time the sun is up, it's "already ricocheting with the calls of monkeys, parrots, frogs, all going at it molto vivace, shrieking and squawking as if the world were waking up in pain, the jungle giving birth to itself each morning." The setting of Ferencik's (The River at Night, 2017) second female-driven adventure thriller is hair-raisingly vivid, replete with tarantulas, piranhas, jaguars, and electric eels. We experience them all through the eyes of Lily Bushwold, 19, "a half-starved, high strung wild child who lived out of a backpack, homeless since [she] was thirteen." Lily thought she had landed a dream job in South America but arrived to find herself the victim of a scam; she's living on shoplifted bananas in Cochabamba when she meets Omar, a handsome hunter from a remote jungle village who has come to try his luck in the big city. He and Lily have already fallen in love when he learns that his 4-year-old nephew back home has been eaten by a jaguar; when he returns to seek revenge, Lily goes with him. What does she have to lose, right? She finds out pretty quickly during the most terrifying plane flight in recent literary history. After a near crash and a water landing, it's welcome to Ayachero—Omar's jungle home, where everybody except one little cross-eyed boy immediately hates the gringa. "A burnt-meat smell, the reek of stale water, and a stray sweet whiff of pig dung merged with a humid, breathless heat." Among the unwelcoming locals are two missionaries named Harriet and a female shaman named Beya, an outcast from a rival tribe who lives in the woods nearby. When Beya is able to save Lily from death by coaching her telepathically through an electric eel encounter, her next question is, "Are you the only shaman in Boston?" Even with the telepathy, Lily's experience feels almost real—then, in the final chapters, takes a wild turn into superhero territory.
The closest thing to an actual hell ride you'll ever experience (one hopes). Thrilling, bloody, and ferocious.