"The Wolf Border" by Sarah Hall

by Karen Biscopink in

But humanity’s demise, she thinks, is dreadful. We eke it out, limp on, medicate, become expensively compromised. For humans there will be no final status fights, no usurping, no healthy death. Decay continues, on and on. Only merciful ends come quickly or during sleep.

Set on both a reservation in Idaho and an estate in Northern England, The Wolf Border evokes an atmosphere of contained wilderness. Wildness with hard limits.

Protagonist Rachel Caine is summoned to Northern England by a wealthy Earl who requests her expertise on a spooky project: reintroducing wolves to the environment. While there, she also makes a (seemingly) rare visit to her elderly mother who is running out of time. Rachel initially refuses the Earl's offer of employment, but a series of unexpected circumstances leads her to reconsider and begin work on the wolf project. 

Author Sarah Hall

Author Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall's novel captured my attention (and affection) in a similar manner as Barbara Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior." But where Kingsolver's diction is casual, colloquial, Hall's manner of speech is distinctively, properly British. The narrative voice is incredibly polished. Imagery is built to stand in incredible contrast, but yet collectively builds a theme of "border" - reservation, assisted living facility / hospice, rural estate, game preserve. 

The protagonist also fits into this theme of fenced-in wildness. Intelligent and polished, exhibiting her own brand of reservedness, Rachel is no stranger to casual flirtation or alcohol-fueled liaisons. But even in her moments of apparent abandon, Rachel's awareness of her own control (intellectually, sexually, situationally) is ever-present. 

I very much enjoyed this introduction to Hall's work, and will certainly seek out any new releases she sends out into the world. 

*Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with an Advanced Reader's Copy.