Book Review: Wild Spaces

Book Review: Wild Spaces

Debut Novel by S. L. Coney
Review by Sadie Hartmann

Book: Wild Spaces by S. L. Coney

Release Date: August 1, 2023

Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy, Cosmic

Subgenre/Themes: Coming-of-Age, Human Monsters, Mystery, Family Drama, Man’s Best Friend

Writing Style: Character-Driven

What You Need to Know

Simply put, Wild Spaces is the story of an idyllic family living on the coast of South Carolina. An eleven-year-old boy is tenderly, almost magically loved and adored by his parents. One day, the mother’s father shows up unexpectedly for a visit. The boy’s dog, Teach, seems hostile toward him, and the boy’s parents act guarded. As the visit transitions into an indefinite stay, it’s clear this could change the family dynamic forever.

My Reading Experience

It has been a while since a book has train-wrecked me quite like this one. I experienced a full-body crumpling from overwhelming sadness. It felt like emotional hell. My heart was wrenched, tears streamed down the sides of my face into my hair (I usually read laying down), and that horrible lump in my throat was there when I tried to swallow. Reading became labored due to blurry, tear-filled eyes trying to make out the pain-inducing words on the page.

I can think of three times exactly in the last three years where this has happened, and Wild Spaces makes four.

So when I say this is a must-read book, I really mean it.

First of all, how dare this book attack me this way!

I was quite literally minding my own business when I got an email from a very prolific editor in the horror industry, urging me to read Wild Spaces, going so far as to attach an early review copy for me to enjoy. Considering the source, I did not wait to read it.

This is my first time reading S. L. Coney’s work, but reading the first page felt like coming home. It’s welcoming, like a warm embrace from an old friend at the front door before you’re invited inside in for coffee and a good visit. I immediately knew this book was something special.



I fell in love.

The family in the novel opens right up to the reader and shares its most intimate and heartwarming moments with you. Definitely reminiscent of my time with Robert McCammon’s iconic coming-of-age book, Boy’s Life. This gave me those kinds of sweet, nostalgic, feel-good vibes.

And then Grandpa shows up like a scratch in your favorite record.

The way the author signals to the reader that something is not right…well, you’ll see.

And that’s all I can tell you. To expand further on anything that happens in the last twenty-five percent of this story is to take away a few of the most emotional discoveries I’ve encountered in a good long time.

You’re in for a real treat.

If you read this book and need to talk about it, you’re not alone. I need to talk about it, too. I was able to thank the person who gave it to me and blame her for all the hard feelings I was having, and she was not sorry. In fact, she was glad she ruined my day, and so was I.

Final Recommendation

Fans of epic coming-of-age horror fiction need to read this book. You can purchase the eBook or check it out at the library if that’s what you prefer, but for fans of owning physical copies, I say this with confidence: This is absolutely a book worthy of your home library and something you will revisit and recommend to all your friends. I pre-ordered it so fast when I finished, and I cannot wait to hold it in my hands. Maybe even hug it a little.


Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon, The Fisherman by John Langan, The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones.

Wild Spaces publishes August 1, 2023, from It is currently available for pre-order wherever books are sold.

S. L. Coney

Author of Wild Spaces

Sadie Hartmann


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