cover image Wilderness Reform

Wilderness Reform

Matt and Harrison Query. Atria/Bestler, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-6680-2413-3

The Query brothers follow Old Country with another spine-tingling suspense novel, this time centered on a wilderness reform school. In Lafitte, La., 13-year-old Ben Thibodaux is arrested for robbing a gas station with a fake gun. Rather than sending Ben to juvenile detention—where he’d happily reunite with several friends—a judge ships him to Bear Springs Academy in Montana. Ben’s fierce objections to being sent away grow more pronounced when he arrives and gets strange vibes from the program director, Reid, and the counselors assigned to whip Ben into shape. While learning to fly fish and build fires, Ben forms alliances with other boys in his cabin, many of whom also sense unease beneath their counselors’ placid smiles. After former campers warn Ben and his new friends that there’s evil coursing through the camp, the boys prepare to fight an otherwordly enemy. While the setup is familiar and the pacing is leisurely, the Querys set themselves apart with sterling prose (a muffled scream sounds “like the mountains themselves threw a wet, lead blanket over chaos”) and three-dimensional characters. Not every reader will stick around until the action heats up, but supernatural thriller fans will find plenty to enjoy. Agent: Liz Parker, Verve Talent & Literary. (July)