Julia Fine comes to the blog with her debut offering: part woman’s fiction, wholly magical realism with a dash of coming of age and wholly engaging. Please read on for my review of
What Should Be Wild
Born with a curse that many women in her family have: Maisie Cothay cannot touch or be touched, for she holds the power of life and death in her hands. Without a mother, her anthropologist father has died and been reborn multiple times before she had control of her power, as he carefully watches, documents and contains her in the large manor house at the edge of the forest. Now sixteen, Maisie has questions – lots of questions, many centered around the forest that must never be entered, where her mother is, and now, just why her father has disappeared.
If you’ve ever read the ORIGINAL Grimm tales – Fine’s use of detailed and not, suspense, language and description all bring the feel of a cost yet to be paid – probably in horrible ways, all wrapped in, or perhaps soft-focused in a slightly menacing foggy overlay that heightens senses and keeps your head on a swivel. Fine’s ability to draw readers into the story as Maisie learns of the women in her family as she searches for the “why” she was cursed: a lovely series of insets that mix myth, legend and personal history of the struggles, challenges and lives of her foremothers. Slowly but surely, Maisie comes to discover the why, how to live with the isolation and loneliness, and the dangers in the wood.
Unlike anything I’ve read before, the plotting, the concept and the intention come through very clearly, weaving together myth, magic and the usual teenage angst aided by the isolation, questions about family, the mystery surrounding her father’s disappearance and further questions about love, life and moving forward, Maisie is a wonderfully rich and nuanced character, and that ability to present a character, flaws and all – show clearly in both present and past – from her father’s remove to the ‘scientific’ as he studies (more so than parents) her, the true genesis for the curse and just why the woods were more of a ‘container’ for her foremothers, and just what that means. Even after a slower start as the myth and background is laid, the story quickly becomes a page turner as tension, answers and more questions surface in near every page.
Title: What Should Be Wild
Author: Julia Fine
Genre: Coming of Age, Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Fairy Tale Remix, Magical Realism
Published by: Harper
Published on: 8 May, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 41 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.