“Delightful and darkly magical. Julia Fine has written a beautiful modern myth, a coming-of-age story for a girl with a worrisome power over life and death. I loved it.” —Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry
In this darkly funny, striking debut, a highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia—an utterly original novel with all the mesmerizing power of The Tiger’s Wife, The Snow Child, and Swamplandia!
Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.
But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.
Advance Praise for What Should Be Wild
“What Should Be Wild is a grim, beautiful book that you won’t be able to put down. It’s a thrilling fairytale that will give you the chills, will make you wonder what’s really hidden in the forest. Julia Fine writes with enormous imagination, and her first novel is a feast.” —Annie Hartnett, author of Rabbit Cake
“Julia Fine is an exciting, excellent writer. And her voice, in What Should Be Wild, says, unspoken, what we all want so badly to hear when we pick up a new book: Let me tell you a story... one you won’t want to end.” —Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box and Black Mad Wheel
“Julia Fine’s bewitching debut is a crackling contemporary fairytale that explores the cost of being extraordinary in a world that asks women to suppress their strength. Fine possesses an astonishing talent as a storyteller. I couldn’t stop reading until every last secret of the forest had been revealed.” —Sara Flannery Murphy, author of The Possessions
"What Should Be Wild is a dark, glorious fairy tale and a grand adventure. Blending magical realism and riveting storytelling, Ms. Fine knows how to cast a spell over her readers. I was captivated by this book from the first page, and its characters are firmly imprinted on my heart." —Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters