Great armchair adventure

  • Book: Into the Jungle
  • Location: Cochabamba
  • Author: Erica Ferencik

Review Author: butbooksarebetter



Oh how I wish there were more writers like Erica Ferencik out there! Fast paced and addictive adventure & survival thrillers featuring wild and remote places and plucky women protagonists are so hard to come by, and Ferencik has really perfected the art. I loved THE RIVER AT NIGHT, and although this one was completely different, I devoured it just as greedily.

I was intrigued to read that the author loosely based this story on a real-life account of one of her friend’s experiences living in the Amazon jungle. It really added depth and meaning to the story and made the character of Lily come even more to life for me. Lily was a wonderful character – as an orphan growing up in the foster home system, she is both troubled as well as tough. She is a survivor who will fight to the very end. She is feisty and driven, and made for the perfect lead role in this story of survival against the odds. I loved her gradual coming of age as she forms relationships and matures into a woman and wife, embracing her new life’s challenges. She definitely is a character you cannot help but root for all the way.

And that setting – have I said that I looooove wild and remote settings? Only a 100 times or so? Well, let me say it again. It doesn’t get much better than this: a small village in the middle of the jungle cut off from civilisation and surrounded by a harsh and hostile environment. There was wildlife galore, including some of your worst nightmares, like giant snakes and hairy spiders as big as dinner plates, man-eating jaguars, poison ants, razor toothed piranhas and parasites that eat you alive from the inside out. Who wouldn’t want to live there? So here we have Lily Bushwold, a nineteen year old American girl who may know how to survive in an urban jungle but has never had to hunt for food, wash clothes in a river, sleep in a spider infested hut or live off food gathered in the jungle. But when she falls in love with Omar, a young man from a remote tribe in the Bolivian forest, she will soon experience a life she could have never dreamed of.

My nineteen-year-old self may have found Lily’s story terribly romantic and signed up for the trip. But even living in the land of Oz, were apparently every creature is set to kill you, I could not envisage surviving long in those conditions – and at my age I prefer my own creature comforts too much to envy Lily her great adventure. With good reason, as you will find out when you read this book.

Apart from Lily, the story is brimming with interesting and eclectic characters, from For God’s Sake, the crippled riverboat driver, to the “Frannies”, the two missionaries who have settled in the jungle in an effort of converting the tribes to Christianity. There is also Baya, a shaman living alone in the bush and shunned by the villagers, who has a strange affinity to Lily. And because every good adventure story needs some baddies, there are the poachers, out to rape and pillage and strip the jungle of its treasures. In all this, Omar and Lily’s love endures.

Yes, there may have been a few scenes that stretched the boundaries of believability a bit, but never too far to spoil my enjoyment. And what good adventure tale is not prone to some slight exaggeration? You know that every good fishing story has a bit of journalistic license thrown in. I loved the way Ferencik built the tension to the action packed finale, where Lily really must prove her worth.

If you love a good action thriller featuring a plucky female heroine, then this one should definitely be on your TBR pile. It certainly made for a great armchair adventure! Apparently Erica Ferencik is planning another action packed book, this time somewhere “very cold”. Alaska? Antarctica? Greenland? Wherever, I am certain it will be another fantastic adventure and I can’t wait to read it!

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021