• Title: The Wilderness Between Us
  • Author: Penny Haw
  • Publisher: Koehler Books on July 31, 2021
  • Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages: 274
  • Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, & Digital
  • Rating: 5/5

Trigger Warnings: Drug & Alcohol Use, Anorexia

Many thanks to Penny Haw for providing me with a digital E-ARC copy of The Wilderness Between Us with a request for an honest review.

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About The Wilderness Between Us

Faye Mackenzie and her friends’ anorexic daughter, Clare, are thrown together when a flood separates them from their hiking group in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. With Clare critically injured, Faye is compelled to overcome her self-doubt and fear of the wild to take care of the younger woman, who opens her heart to Faye.

As their new friendship takes the women on an unexpected journey of discovery, the rest of the group wrestles with the harrowing aftermath of their own near tragedy. When the hiking party is reunited, their number is reduced by one. 

Juxtaposing physical and psychological suspense, The Wilderness Between Us is a tale of two fragile women who unexpectedly find clarity, independence, and renewed purpose as they fight to survive. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship, adventure, and the healing power of nature and compassion.

Provided by Random Things Tours for Tour Use

My Review

The Wilderness Between Us is an action-packed novel perfect for women thrill-seekers. Penny Haw brings readers a terrifying tale of life, death, and forgiveness of self. From the moment Penny contacted me, I knew this would be a tale that I would fall in love with, and I did.

Clare Basson finds herself on a hiking trip with her father and a group of her parent’s friends. The thing is, Clare is anorexic. She tries to overcome her illness through her desire for ultimate control. But, when Clare falls from a boulder injuring herself, Faye takes over. Doing everything she can to ensure the girl lives. During this time, Clare and Faye form a bond that makes them both see what needs to happen next in their lives. Will they make it out of the woods in time to make their desires come true?

Clare is a sweet girl. I felt for her while she struggled with her anorexia. Clare wanted to get better so badly, but the thoughts in her head wouldn’t allow her to push forward. She needed help but refused to see it. Watching her suffer then come to grips with how she wanted to proceed felt like a balm to my heart.

Faye marries a controlling jerk. She spends 20 years listening to him put her down and make fun of her. It isn’t until Faye becomes stranded in the woods that she realizes her strength is her greatest weapon. Faye let negative thoughts consume her, but she found herself on that trip. I have never been so proud in my life as when Faye realized her true potential.

I must admit my terror while reading. There are no ghosts or other spooky things in the woods. But the isolation, wild animals, and flooding rivers took over all rational thought. All I wanted was for everyone to be okay. I took a deep breath of relief when help finally arrived. But, those agonizing moments when I didn’t know what was going to happen almost broke me. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so tense while reading. Yet, through the terror, there was exhilaration and love for these characters. Even though the stress of the journey weighed on me, the growth that happened fulfilled me.

However, anger also controlled me while reading. Faye’s husband, Derek, is the catalyst behind Clare’s illness. His inappropriate remarks about her fueled Clare’s passion to lose weight. I strongly believe that he pushed her to the brink. But this guy is a lowlife of the worst kind. His mistreatment of Faye and their son, Zach, pushed my buttons so hard that I wanted to wring this man’s neck. Even back in Derek’s childhood, the guy manipulated those around him.

I am happy to award The Wilderness Between Us a full 5 out of 5 stars. The story is incredible and uplifting. Every emotion I went through was worth it because the novel is so good. I recommend this to anyone who loves a feel-good story full of action and adrenaline.

About the Author – Penny Haw

Long-time journalist and columnist, and latter-day author, Cape Town-based Penny Haw has written for many leading South African newspapers and magazines for more than three decades. Her children’s book, Nicko, The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm was published in 2017 and is now included in school curricula. The Wilderness Between Us is her debut novel for adults, again expounding her love for animals and the outdoors.

Author’s Contact Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram

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