It’s a journey down the long and broken road through The Land of the Shadow.
Most of my experience with wolves, has been from a distance —alas— since they’re extinct in this part of the country. All I can do is watch nature videos and uploaded footage from wildlife rehabilitation centers, and read research papers on their behavior. Sam is special, but I wanted his behavior to be believable.
Carly knows that Sam isn’t a dog, and she carefully monitors his behavior for any danger signs. He was intensely socialized with her as a pup, so he’s bonded to his human “pack,” and he has a submissive nature. However, Carly has to always be alert when around others to make sure that Sam’s nature doesn’t cause problems.
Sam has been a great character to write about, and I’ve learned so much in my research. I’m really going to miss writing about him now that the trilogy has finished.
We got a little glimpse of how Carly met Sam in the first book, but we get to see a bit more of the scene in the second. I thought I share it with you here, a little sneak peek of The Land of the Shadow:
She passed by a small alley between the buildings, and a rattle made her jump and fumble for the nine iron tucked into the basket.
Behind one of the buildings was a pile of trash, and one of the bags was moving. Carly stared at it and watched as it shook. She railed at herself for being an idiot, even as her feet carried her forward. She was likely to see something awful on the other side of that bag, a rat maybe. She kept close to the wall until she was close enough, then craned her neck.
A small, black-brown ball of fur was pulling at the black plastic. Carly must have made a small sound, because it looked up at her, its blue eyes shining.
“A puppy!” Carly gasped. It was the first dog she’d seen in a long while. The news had said dogs and cats were just as susceptible to the Infection as humans. At the sound of her voice, the puppy ran toward her, and tears stung her eyes. It was so desperate at the sight of another living creature that it ran to her without hesitation, without fear. She bent to pick it up. It wiggled in her hands, licking every bit of skin within reach of its tiny pink tongue. Carly laughed and rubbed behind the little flopping ears.
The thing was so small, it couldn’t have weighed more than a pound or so. Her fingers felt little but bone and fur. She lifted it to peer underneath. A boy. His little paws swam in the air, and she laughed again. She smiled when he licked the tip of her nose . . . an honest smile. It felt like so long since she had done that.
She plunked the puppy into the child seat and pushed the cart back to her building. It took three trips to carry up all the bags up to her apartment one-handed, but she found she didn’t want to put the puppy down. She even held on to him as she put the food away into the cupboards.
She also talked to him while she worked, though she knew he could not understand. It didn’t matter if he didn’t understand. It felt good to let the words pour out of her, to tell someone else about what had happened. When her voice broke, he looked up at her with a curious tilt of his head.
“I’ll be okay,” she told him. She had to be okay now. She had another creature depending on her.
Her mind already on the things she’d need to get from the grocery store for him, Carly took her backpack from the closet and folded a towel in the bottom and zipped it up so he could poke his head out.
Back at the store, she felt no hesitation at entering, her mind on the supplies she needed: puppy food, flea and tick repellant, dewormer. She took almost as many supplies for the dog as she had for herself, she reflected with a grin as she carried her bags back to the apartment.
She spooned some of the mushy meat into the little plastic dog bowl she’d bought, and he attacked it. He was so small, he should probably still be drinking his mother’s milk, but this was the best she could do. He ate until his tummy bulged and then crawled over to curl up on Carly’s lap. He slept so soundly, he didn’t wake when she moved him over to the sofa where she could be more comfortable. She was surprised at how soothing she found petting the puppy.
The sun was setting when he opened his eyes and looked up at her with a little wag of his tiny tail. His expression was so sweet, so warm, hopeful, and trusting. It reminded her of Sam’s earnest expression in The Lord of the Rings, the last movie she and her father had watched together.
“Sam,” Carly said. She picked up the puppy to rub her cheek against his fur, and quoted Frodo’s words to him. “I’m glad you could be here with me, Sam. Here at the end of all things.”
“What a ride! Carly and Justin are people that I’d like on my side, and on the side of my community. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a story that will keep you glued to your reader or flipping pages in a paperback just as quickly as you can.” –Kathie Spitz