What does one do when there is such a short time to live, not wanting to live it out in a hospital with no hope? Or to bear the inevitable pain that is coming? Taking a load of pills didn't kill her, so perhaps the gun she buys to take with her into the woods will be more efficient?
Kate buys an isolated cabin about two miles walking distance from the nearest road, next to a national forest that includes a place to garden and a pond. She buys it sight unseen, other than the Polaroids they give her at the closing, because does it really matter what your cabin looks like when one is dying?
The first night at the cabin Kate arrives exhausted, after dragging the few things she has brought with her through the woods for two miles. It's in that exhausted state when she's almost asleep that she first hears the breathing of a creature outside her cabin wall, the creature she calls "the deer" for some time, until she realizes that the edgy feeling of being watched while outside of the cabin during the day is not just her imagination.
Danny is stoned the first time he sees the Dead Lady. A Vietnam veteran trained as a sniper, Danny knows how to be the silent watcher in the woods of Georgia's Appalachia, surviving on leftovers from the dumpster in town. But that doesn't help him cope with the fact that this invasion by the Dead Lady has made him move out of the cabin that he took as his home, just in time too, before she arrives.
This book didn't make me sad that the main character was dying in the beginning because somehow I knew it would work out okay. Although Kate has dark thoughts, she has an inner light that begs to survive. I am familiar with her illness so I suspected, but, oh my word, I did not expect half of what happens. Very clever!
For straight fiction lovers who love a few shocking twists in their reading, along with some thriller tendencies and psycho oddities that will rattle you just a bit, this novel is the perfect answer to your wishes. For those who yearn for a back-to-basics survival lifestyle, while escaping the environmental concerns of our cities, then this novel will feed your desires with a wicked bent you won't expect. A bit erotic at times, too, without the very detailed descriptions most often found in erotic romance, while still being very sexy, as well as possessive--this novel will keep you wondering what in the world you have gotten yourself into by starting it, because even though it's twisted and downright sick at times, you won't be able to stop reading for wanting to know how it will end. And the language, oftentimes brutally raw, can make you gasp for the realness of it, and yet, you know it needs to be written just like that to portray the reality of this attached detachment to the real world as we know it.
I'm not sure that I even like this book even though I am in awe of its creativity. There were many times while reading it when I wondered how I could possibly continue, and yet I eagerly persisted. The characters have an obsessed addiction to each other that's riveting. Their growth together is sometimes good and sometimes very bad, feeding the frenzy that is them together. But that's why I've rated this book five stars, because it kept me reading and wondering, not just about its content, or how it was so artistically written, but about myself for wanting to reach the end, even though I knew I might not like the conclusion. This novel has some Southern Gothic fiction similarities while maintaining its originality, possibly appealing to fans of author Ron Rash. The writing becomes the characters as much as the characters are the writing, it's all synonymous while they twist and turn together, making the reader wonder what is real and what is imagination. Thrilling, creative, all-consuming, raw--IN WILDERNESS is exactly what great fiction should be.
For those who aspire to write, and wonder what might happen to the 30-year-old manuscript you have lying under the bed, should you drag it out someday, be sure to read author Diane Thomas' stirring bio and frequently asked questions at her website. My thanks to you, Ms. Thomas, for never giving up hope on life and your obvious talent--you not only give those of us who have endured the unexplained great hope, but you are also an inspiration to writers who cling to the dream.