“A debut full of atmosphere and awe. Wade gives emotional depth to his dust-covered characters, and creates an image of the American West that is harsh and unforgiving, but—like All Things Left Wild—not without hope.” —Sarah Bird, author of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen
After an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb’s moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill.
Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice.
Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul.
“Night, Victorian poet Algernon Swinburne warned, is but the shadow of light, and life just the shadow of death. That, in one breath, is the finely drawn dilemma James Wade turns over and over like a precious, light-refracting, darkness-harboring gemstone that is All Things Left Wild…This is artful fiction drawn with a deft, patient hand. The writing style is an ideal mashup of Larry McMurtry’s burnish and Cormac McCarthy’s grit…Wade’s writerly skill is topnotch and white hot in the visual, visceral quality of his description that breathes the landscape to life as a major character in the story…All Things left Wild is a magnificent, beautifully drawn montage of contemplation, lightning-fast action, uncertainty and inevitability, pain, enormous loss, empty gain, an extraordinary adventure lived, and certainly, in retrospect, one not to be missed.” —Lone Star Literary Life
“Transfixing…The author takes a classic western setup and refreshes it with sharp writing, strong characterizations, a vivid evocation of place, and a body count to rival The Wild Bunch. Fans of All the Pretty Horses will want to saddle up for this literary ride.” —Publishers Weekly
“James Wade’s debut novel, All Things Left Wild, is set in the still–Wild West of 1910, and it’s a chase novel/spiritual journey for all involved…Wade writes skillfully about the brutality and bloody history of the West, and of the United States. Every person his travelers meet has a story and a philosophy of life…This is anything but escapist fare, and some of the players might remind you of current leaders.” —Liz French, Library Journal
“This is the kind of novel readers can spend weeks discussing—the philosophical and moral nature of it as well as its fatalistic sense of justice…For a long time to come, All Things Left Wild will linger in the memory of all who read it—the tragedy, the hope, and the irony of it all.” —New York Journal of Books
James Wade lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and daughter. His debut novel, All Things Left Wild, won the 2021 Spur Award for Historical Novel. James is also a winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. His fiction has appeared in various literary magazines, including the Bitter Oleander.