Wild Place by Christian White, Review: Shocking domesticity

In Wild Place, Christian White delivers another shocking twist-filled domestic thriller laced with thought-provoking social commentary. Read my full review.

Wild Place Book Synopsis

In the summer of 1989, a local teen goes missing from the idyllic Australian suburb of Camp Hill. As rumours of Satanic rituals swirl, schoolteacher Tom Witter becomes convinced he holds the key to the disappearance. When the police won’t listen, he takes matters into his own hands with the help of the missing girl’s father and a local neighbourhood watch group.

But as dark secrets are revealed and consequences to past actions are faced, Tom learns that the only way out of the darkness is to walk deeper into it. 

Wild Place peels back the layers of suburbia, exposing what’s hidden underneath – guilt, desperation, violence – and attempts to answer the question: why do good people do bad things?

(Affirm Press, October 2021)

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Crime-Detective, Thriller

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Book Review

Do you remember the late 1980s? If so, get ready for a dose of nostalgia as you embark on reading Wild Place. Christian White’s seemingly effortless evocation of that time – the music, the cars, the food, the fashion, the cultural norms, and dare I say it, the suburban consensual naivety and self-righteous suspicion of anyone not making an effort to ‘fit-in’ – was compelling but the pacing was relaxed. So much so, that in this novel’s first half I found myself almost lulled into a false sense of security. And, this was despite my knowing White is the master of the plot twist, having enjoyed his bestseller The Wife and The Widow.

Yes, that initial blinding by the mundane suburban veneer and preconceived expectations, was of course a clever ruse. One which served to heighten the menacing threat of the undercurrents when they emerge and then the impact of the gut punches delivered in Wild Place‘s latter half. And trust me, White dishes out several. His execution of these twists is so crafty, so skilfully unassuming… far more so than his previous title, and thus ultimately more shocking.

There is bloodshed in this novel, but it is the transparency brought to bear on the theme of why and how easily good people can do bad things, that is far scarier. That ignorant assumption and baseless accusations toward those that are different can be the catalyst for great trauma whether at school, in a suburban street or on a larger social or even global scale, is an important lesson and reminder for us all.

Christian White’s Wild Place is a highly accessible and compelling read… Both a shocking domestic thriller and also thought-provoking social commentary on a dark, recurring theme* in societies that proudly call themselves civilized.

* And I am not referring to Satanism.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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More Wild Place reviews

‘Filled with breathless menace and, as he’s become renowned for in his previous bestsellers, twists and turns you won’t see coming.’- The Herald Sun

‘White continually nudges the frame, raising alternative possibilities. Skilful plotting with clever misdirects ensures it’s difficult to guess at the denouement, but it was the epilogue that left me gasping.’ – Book’d Out

‘This is a book you won’t be able to put down. You might want to stop for a drink, to take a leak, get some sleep, but then there’s that twist, that next chapter, and you just have to keep reading … he’s owning the thriller genre right now.’The Australian

About the Author, Christian White

Christian White is an Australian author and screenwriter whose projects include feature-film RelicThe Nowhere Child was his first book and one of Australia’s bestselling debut novels ever. An early draft of this novel won the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Clickbait, a television series Christian co-created with Tony Ayres (The Slap), starring Adrian Grenier (Entourage), was released by Netflix in August 2021 and went straight to #1 in 41 countries. Christian’s keenly awaited second book, The Wife and the Widow, was published by Affirm Press in 2019 and became an instant bestseller.

The setting of his third novel Wild Place is modelled on the area of the Mornington Peninsular where he grew up. Today he lives nearby in Balnarring, Victoria.

This review counts toward my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2021.

* My receipt of a review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.