I'm reading The Wilding right now, the last of my dusty stack of TBR books. (Hooray! I read them all! More on that later.) Here's a summary from Goodreads:
A powerful debut novel set in a threatened western landscape, from the award-winning author of Refresh, Refresh.
Echo Canyon is a disappearing pocket of wilderness outside of Bend, Oregon, and the site of conflicting memories for Justin Caves and his father, Paul. It’s now slated for redevelopment as a golfing resort. When Paul suggests one last hunting trip, Justin accepts, hoping to get things right with his father this time, and agrees to bring his son, Graham, along.
As the weekend unfolds, Justin is pushed to the limit by the reckless taunting of his father, the physical demands of the terrain, and the menacing evidence of the hovering presence of bear. All the while, he remembers the promise he made to his skeptical wife: to keep their son safe.
Benjamin Percy, a writer whose work Dan Chaon called “bighearted and drunk and dangerous,” shows his mastery of narrative suspense as the novel builds to its surprising climax. The Wilding shines unexpected light on our shifting relationship with nature and family in contemporary society.
I don't read a lot of suspense nor thrillers, probably because I am a huge wuss. I am really enjoying this one, partly because it blends some great descriptions of the landscape. (Sidenote: the Pacific Northwest is the one part of the continental US I haven't spent much time, and I really need to remedy that soon.) I expect to be a lot more afraid of bears by the time I finish this. I was already really afraid of bears.*
*Which are scarier: sharks or bears? I have been trying to answer this question for years. This book might resolve it for me, and I'm going with bears. Thanks to Mythbusters, I know of some ways to maybe, possibly deter a shark (like punching it). With a bear--your best hope is playing dead and hoping. Yikes.
I don't want to give anything away, but one of The Wilding's human characters is one the scariest I've read in a long, long time. [If you are curious, read the second to last paragraph of this Barnes & Noble review. It's not super-spoilery, but it does describe a subplot that startled me while reading without foreknowledge.] Step one to creating a truly terrifying character: get inside his/her head and create a little empathy for the reader. It can be so much creepier when a predator isn't wholly bad and the reader catches glimpses of his/her humanity.
Or--getting back to bears, I guess--take away humanity altogether and show an evil that's animalistic.
Do you get more creeped out by humanized evil or animalistic antagonists? Which types of books and/or characters freak you out the most? And: what's scarier to you, sharks or bears?