Alone in the Wild is the fifth book in the Rockton series and I think it may be my favorite of the bunch. This time around Casey and Dalton are camping not far from town when they find a baby of all things, sheltered by a dead body. The woman hasn't been dead for long, obviously, but Casey has no idea who the woman is or who the baby might belong to. It appears that the baby doesn't belong to the dead woman, and from there we get a deep dive into the nature of the communities surrounding Rockton- the settlers and the hostiles, which we've been getting hints of since the first book .
Finally the layers of secrecy surrounding these other settlements are being peeled back, and I loved it. The concept of this town in the Yukon has always been a winner for me, but to be honest the mystery of the wilder groups has always captivated me most, and we've only gotten hints up until now. This time we get an explanation for how the hostiles end up like they do, and we get to see the complex web of relationships that exist between the different groups. The First and Second Settlements play a role in the story, as do some independent groups and, of course, the hostiles.
We also get the return of some familiar faces, including Ty Cypher (who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters) and a new face- a former hostile- who makes an appearance and who I am hoping plays a role in future stories. There are the usual twists and turns, although if I have one complaint, it might be that the mystery takes one or two perhaps unnecessary turns. The enigma of the dead woman and the baby just seemed to be a tad too convoluted, perhaps, but other than that I have no real complaints. I'm even starting to like Dalton more (I know he's popular, but often for me he just seems like an excuse to drop f-bombs every two seconds). The relationship he has with Casey has matured to the point now where it feels comfortable, and while things still occur to test them, there's not a lot of unnecessary angst.
The wilderness plays a big role in this one too- they don't spend a lot of time in Rockton. I liked that since the areas surrounding the town have always been my favorite parts of the stories. I'm liking Jen as a character too, and of course we get to check in on the increasingly complicated array of residents and players in this series. Early on I was hoping for maybe a paranormal slant to the series, vis a vis the hostiles in particular, and while that's apparently not going to happen the explanations for how they have developed the way they have made a lot of sense.
All in all this was a solid read. I was starting to wonder if this series would flag a little bit but I'm happy to report this might have, again, been my favorite yet. There's a certain formulaic feel, I guess, to some of the characters like Cypher showing up and playing a role, but not too much of a role- it feels like we get a check in on certain characters every book but not much else- but honestly the cast is so large now that that's unavoidable, I suppose. On the flip side there's enough possible story idea for a ton more books, I would think- and that'd be fine with me!
Who would have thought Jen and Cypher? Not me, but I love it! Honestly, we need more of that.
Sebastian is an interesting enigma and I just feel he's being foreshadowed huge in this book. He could be scary.
Maryann the former hostile is a cool character, and moving her into the caves sets up some possibilities as well.