Reviews of The Wilds

Reviews of The Wilds

* Kirkus names The Wilds one of the best books of the year

*BuzzFeed Books names The Wilds one of the 24 Best Fiction Books of 2014

*The Wilds is on Book Riot’s Best of 2014 list

*The Wilds is a New York Times Editors’ Choice

*The Wilds is on Electric Literature’s list “25 Best Short Story Collections of 2014”

*The Wilds named an Outstanding Collection by the Story Prize, 2014

“Elliott makes us hear contemporary English in a new way.”
The New York Times Book Review (read full review)

“The debut collection from Pushcart Prize–winning Elliott is a brilliant combination of emotion and grime, wit and horror. . . . Elliott’s gift of vernacular is remarkable, and her dark, modern spin on Southern Gothic creates tales that surprise, shock, and sharply depict vice and virtue.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (read full review)

“Robots may search for love, but there’s nothing wilder than human nature in this genre-bending short story collection from debut writer Elliott . . . This book will take you to places you never dreamed of going and aren’t quite sure you want to stay, but you won’t regret the journey.”
Kirkus (read full review)

“Humans, robots, and humans with robotic limbs pine for carnal satisfaction in Elliott’s impressively inventive, often macabre collection, animated by her characters’ outsize appetites for sex, knowledge, faith, and kindness.”

“Elliott’s inventive first collection is replete with robotic limbs and levitation—but also grit and force. A dark piece of magic that glows in the reading.”
Flavorwire (read full review)

“The Wilds is a story collection that lives up to its name, with its gothic and genre-bending tales of feral dogs, caveman fitness camps, and freaky slumber parties. Julia Elliott’s vision of the world is gorgeous and gross, delectable and discomforting — from story to story, you won’t be able to predict where you’ll go next, but you’ll trust Elliott to take you there.”
Buzzfeed Books (read full review)

“Although a lot of collections these days are said to be “beyond genre,” Julia Elliot’s stories truly are–I can’t think of anyone they wouldn’t appeal to. By turns terrifying, anxious, delicate and fantastic, Elliott has a Bowie-esque range (and sometimes similar subject matter). Free of the irony that can spoil a good tale of killer dogs, robotic grandmas or recreational brain surgery, Elliot, more than anyone else writing today, is the heir to the bedroom kingdoms and true-to-life fairy tales of Angela Carter, Barry Hannah and Ballard.”
Electric Literature (read full review)

“The creativity and unbridled view of the future is beautifully done in this Southern Gothic short story collection.”
BookRiot (read full review)

“Julia Elliott’s debut collection is aptly named; these short stories are undoubtedly wild. A woman attends a caveman-themed weight-loss camp, only to discover that a pack of Neanderthals takes the rumor of caveman cannibalism seriously; a young girl is caught up in the chaotic rants and fortune-telling of her friends’ dying grandmother; a neighborhood boy transforms himself into a wolfman, wearing a mask and howling at the sky every full moon. Elliott dives into this wildness with abandon, never afraid to push the limits of reality in order to make us think, really, about the crazy world in which we live.”
Shelf Awareness (read full review)

“You may think you’ve read this book or something like it. Female short story writers like Kelly Link, Karen Russell, Aimee Bender, and Amelia Gray have made names for themselves by writing absurd and surreal tales. What I like so much about Elliott’s work is that her writing reflects dissatisfaction with where we are going as a society. Her characters are being propelled toward an end that is inevitable and unsatisfying. Elliott writes about big issues: how we treat our senior citizens, the spread of viruses, the fear of growing old, the excess of vanity, the hypocrisy of religion, the quality of our food, the precariousness of technology, and yes, the end of the world. Pirates invade, characters worry about the death toll in Afghanistan, and people sunburn. A grandmother levitates above the couch, a mechanical shark terrifies an aging woman, and a robot feels love. Elliott is a prose stylist and thinker all her own. Her work is unique and haunting, often drifting into apocalyptic and dystopian territory, but in many ways rooted in reality. I could not turn away from her tales. At the end of my time with The Wilds, I was completely devoted to Elliott’s dark depictions of the world.”
The Rumpus (read full review)

“Elliot’s dark satire ensnarls and enchants; her sharp, stunning, and occasionally grotesque language shocks and enthralls; and her vibrant, surreal worlds shimmer off the page. While consuming this collection, your imagination will certainly go delightfully wild.”
Bustle (read full review)

“[F]rom beginning-to-end [The Wilds] absolutely captivated me with its range and the utter beauty of its language. The bulk of the stories in The Wilds—okay, all of them—can best be describe as weird and range in genres from science fiction (the exceptional “LIMBs”) to domestic drama (the extremely funny “Feral”) to the sweetly romantic (Once again, “LIMBs and the title story “The Wilds”) to flat out satire (the hilarious “Jaws”). Now typically I don’t throw out words like “perfect” all that often, but The Wilds is pretty much a perfect debut collection, and one that I encourage every reader to search out and buy.”
LitReactor (read full review)

“Readers who grew up loving that fizzy, edge-of-the-lake feeling of diving into a tale will adore Julia Elliott’s The Wilds. Elliott’s worlds are fully imagined and wholly immersive; her sentences unfurl in the most surprising and glorious ways. These are tantalizingly strange, eerie and funny and unpredictable tales of transformation.”
—Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove

The stories in The Wilds adhere to a nominally realistic view of the world, but there’s also a strong sense of the absurd running through them. Sometimes it’s overt and sometimes it’s sly. The randomness and spontaneity of the world often manifest through the dialogue. It’s an incredibly rare gift to make speech sound both off-the-cuff and essential to the story rather than just random.
—Jeff VanderMeer, author of Nebula-winning novel Annihilation (read full review)

“Julia Elliott’s magical debut collection, The Wilds, brings together some of the most original, hilarious, and mind-bending stories written in the last two decades. She journeys deep into mythic terrains with an explorer’s courage and a savant’s wit, and the reports she sends back from imagination’s hinterlands are charged with a vernacular that crackles with insight. Angela Carter, Kelly Link, and Karen Russell are similar visionaries in the short story form, but Elliott is very much her own irrepressible voice—and it’s one well worth heeding. The Wilds is simply a milestone achievement.”
—Bradford Morrow, author of The Uninnocent

“Julia Elliott’s stories—which thrive beautifully somewhere between the lyrically haunting works of Barry Hannah and the retrospective works of Lewis Nordan—offer nothing but the great, beautiful, dark regions of the human heart. These are stories to be cherished, taught, and brooded upon. These are stories in which to bathe oneself.”
—George Singleton, author of Stray Decorum

“Julia Elliott’s stories are an endangered species—vital, poignant, and rare. Readers should send themselves recklessly into The Wilds, for they will emerge spellbound, all the better for it.
—Kate Bernheimer, author of How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales

“Though you won’t totally feel at home inside, you’ll pick up on the stark social commentary and comparisons to our own world. Often using dystopian and fantasy elements, Elliott’s writing is imaginative, her characters are often strange, and the whole collection is a dark treat you simply can’t put down.”
New Pages (read full review)

“Julia Elliott’s writing overflows with sensory detail and is delightfully unpredictable; one can seldom anticipate where her sentences—or any of the eleven distinctive stories in this vivid collection—will lead.”
The Georgia Review

“While many have and will continue to compare Julia Elliott to the likes of Karen Russell, Kelly Link, and even George Saunders (fair comparisons and good company), I would venture to travel farther back into literary history to find her roots. If you were to take the road leading to Flannery O’Connor’s grotesque South and drive past William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, you may come across a love stricken robot and hear the sounds of the werewolf in the neighborhood. If you witness this and more, you are not lost, you may have simply made your way to the realm of Julia Elliott. It’s not a bad place to pitch a tent and call home.”
The Summerset Review (read full review)

“Elliott has crafted a spooky and intelligent collection of stories that make for an engrossing and, at times, stressful read. Often, I wanted to hose her characters down. I wanted to brush their hair and dress them in clothes that still smell of laundry detergent. Instead, I held my nose and read on.”
Cleaver Magazine (read full review)

“The stories in The Wilds echo multiple genres, but are not constricted by them. They are, fittingly, set in the South and contain elements of the Southern gothic tradition. Also, as in the work of George Saunders, alternate realities create social satire in many of these stories. However, Elliott’s yarns are written in distinct lyrical prose, full of modern texture. They have a style all their own.”
—The Masters Review (read full review)

“The Wilds delivers a scathing critique of American culture that verges on a prophetic kind of fervor . . . .”
The Carolina Quarterly (read full review)

“I have read dozens of short story collections; some from Nobel Prize winning authors and some from the latest indie darlings, but none of these collections have caused me to annoy my wife as much as Julia Elliott’s debut collection, The Wilds. Each night, while I wandered into Elliott’s harrowing world of somewhat recognizable dystopias, I would lean over to my wife and poke her while I read passages aloud and tried to discuss the various intricacies of what made each story come to life.”
Jasper Magazine