Received from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.
It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.
But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….
Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
Feral was a very curious read. It seemed to be a mix of paranormal and psychological thriller. The story was intense from the outset, detailing Serena’s death and Claire’s attack vividly, and both scenes were unsettling.
Then we slowly see how Serena and Claire’s stories intertwine. I’d been expecting a story about Claire investigating the story Serena was working on for the school paper before her death, about another dead teenager. It was actually well into the novel before this came into play.
The feral cats were strange and definitely spooky. It was easy to see why Claire found the town and many of its inhabitants unsettling: the ice storm, the feral cats, discovering the body of a dead classmate…the small town had a dark, almost claustrophobic feel to it, which is a great setting for a paranormal story.
Claire was definitely a character I found it easy to like and root for. The secondary characters were interesting and at times I considered each of them a suspect in Serena’s death. I also appreciated Claire’s relationship with her father: after what happened to Claire in Chicago, they seemed to be trying to figure out how to relate to each other again.
I am mixed about the ending. SPOILER ALERT – SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH TO BE SPOILER FREE. I thought the story was going to full-on paranormal territory, which I was all for, but then it seemed to pull back and say Claire was experiencing PTSD from her attack back in Chicago, with Claire herself pointing out the similarities between what she wanted and what Serena’s spirit had wanted. I thought that was really interesting, and it definitely wasn’t something I was expecting. Right at the end, though, was a final chapter narrated by Serena’s benevolent spirit, which has left me super confused as to what happened. I am the kind of reader who usually likes a definite answer, so I don’t like the way I felt at the end of this book. I was confused. END OF SPOILERS.
Overall, Feral was an intriguing and somewhat spooky story, and I’d recommend it to those looking for a unique paranormal read. But be warned that the ending may frustrate you!