I’m not sure what it is about human nature that is attracted to the untamed and the aloof, but Clay Carmichael in Wild Things has surely tapped into this desire. Zoe has spent the first 11 years of her life taking care of herself just fine, thank you very much. With the death her mentally ill mother, her life is going into drastic changes. She has been turned over to the custody of her curmudgeonly uncle Henry, who has left his life as a renowned heart surgeon for rural seclusion as an artist. Her new existence includes all of life’s never-before-taken-for-granted necessities: food, shelter, adult supervision, and to Zoe disgust, formal education. As she and Henry go about the uncomfortable business of sharing their lives together, other undomesticated characters enter her sphere. A feral cat existing on the periphery of Henry’s homestead intrigues Zoe with the challenge of its independence. And there is the mystery in the woods of a suspiciously deserted shack, diminutive wildlife carvings, and a ghostly white fawn, sighted in fleeting glimpses. Wild Things is a completely satisfying middle-grade book. The appeal of Zoe as an independent firebrand will not be lost on many a young girl, or even a goodly number of young males. Her survival skills demonstrated in her earlier life will empower young readers. The mystery and allure of the wild boy and the cat will keep the pages turning. Carmichael does some fancy footwork with the narrative, when she lets the cat tell the parts of the story that Zoe wouldn’t be privy to. Rather than being confusing to readers it adds a delicious element of brilliant story-telling.