What Should Be Wild: A Novel by Julia FineWhat Should Be Wild: A Novel by Julia Fine

What Should Be Wild: A Novel

byJulia Fine

Hardcover | May 8, 2018

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“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

A Washington Post Best Fantasy Book of May • A Refinery 29 Best May Book • A Chicago Review of Books Best May Book • A Verge Gripping Fantasy Novel of May

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.

Title:What Should Be Wild: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.17 inPublished:May 8, 2018Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062684132

ISBN - 13:9780062684134


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A solid fairytale with hints of romance and action. It covers themes of loneliness and hopelessness as well as paints a beautiful coming of age story that anyone can relate to. Fine has a way of stringing words together in a majestic way that almost hypnotizes the reader further into her magnificent world. I was astonished by her ability to conjure up colourful images and witty dialogue, and overall very intrigued by the sinister yet inspiring narrative. I would recommend this book to people who aren’t particularly familiar with fantasy novels as a fine introduction to this genre.
Date published: 2018-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A captivating read! What Should Be Wild was a captivating read from beginning to end. As soon as I read the synopsis for this book, my interest was piqued. If I may be perfectly honest, the stunning cover was what first caught my eye. Gorgeous, and so fitting for this dark tale. It’s difficult to imagine a life in which you can’t truly experience touch – such a basic human interaction that we crave from the moment we take our first breath. Maisie Cothay was not your basic, average girl. Her slightest touch could snuff the life out of a human being or other living thing, but another swipe, poke or brush could also bring it back to life. While I can’t blame her father for being cautious around Maisie, I can blame him for his lack of fatherly behavior and affection. He was more interested in treating his only daughter as a subject in one of his studies than in nurturing a real relationship with her. This resulted in Maisie living an extremely sheltered and lonely life. My heart broke for Maisie’s unusual life and condition, and I was completely invested in her and her story throughout the book’s entirety. What Should Be Wild drew me in with its unique and richly descriptive story. It brought me back to my own youth and all of the stories that I remembered reading when I was a child. The fairy tales and lore that were not always the happily ever afters that we have been subjected to in more modern day retellings. No, these were the stories that warned children of the dangers of the world and what could possibly be lurking out there beyond the safety of their own homes and surroundings. Julia Fine created this grim, dark feeling of foreboding and executed it superbly. This was an intriguing, entertaining, and alluring read. Brimming with curses, family heritage, determination and human spirit, Julia Fine’s debut was a great introduction to her originality and beautiful, vivid writing. I’m looking forward to reading more by her in the years to come. *I received a copy of the is book from the publisher (via Edelweiss).
Date published: 2018-07-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Eerie and Original Fairy Tale Thank you to Edelweiss, Harper and Julia Fine for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. A young girl grows up without ever having held someone’s hand or received the comfort of a hug. She has a strange, magical ability whereby the tiniest brush against her skin causes death or gives life. Her father, Peter, has kept her isolated on his deceased wife’s estate. He is afraid of Maisie’s powers and makes sure that she abides by a strict set of rules, including never to touch a living thing. After all, she killed her own mother in utero. Peter is a scientist and conducts many experiments on Maisie growing up, trying to understand her powers. While he keeps her identity a secret, he has written many academic papers on his daughter’s abilities. Maisie knows how dangerous she can be but assumes all children are born this way and one day, she will grow out of it. After all, grown ups can touch each other without any sort of consequence. Until, one day, she discovers that she alone is different and Maisie begins to question whether or not she is special, or is she indeed, cursed. She begins to rebel and one day breaks one of her father’s strictest rule about not entering the surrounding forest. Maisie’s maternal line is filled with tragedy. We learn, through alternating chapters, that some of her ancestors are trapped in the forest that surrounds the estate. Each has their own story that has led them to live out their days in this alternate forest, where time stands still. Maisie has grown up hearing the folk tales of what has happened to people who have not heeded the warning to stay out of the forest. But one day, while trying to get home, she stumbles into this strange place. She knows she is somewhere different because she can touch anything and no harm comes to it. She hugs trees and keeps a blade of grass as proof that she is not dreaming. She is startled to see a girl who could be her twin, except for her black eyes and a dark aura about her. After what seems like a few hours, Maisie returns home, only to discover that she has been gone for three days. Her father is missing and Maisie is convinced he has gone looking for her and is somehow trapped in the forest. She goes through Peter’s notes hoping to find a clue as to how to find him, not having any idea how to reenter this alternate forest. A handsome stranger approaches Maisie, announcing himself as a colleague of Peter’s, and offers to help Maisie locate her father. Maisie will need the help of her ancestors, a book of magic and lots of courage to help her solve this mystery. Be prepared, if you are to read this book. This is not just some dark fairy tale with some magical fantasy thrown in. This story definitely has some horror elements to it that I was not expecting. It seemed to come out of nowhere and I was turned off by the gore and level of violence. Don’t get me wrong - I love a good horror novel. I’m just unconvinced that it was a necessary element to the story telling. I felt that this book was trying to be too many things and I wish it had stayed true to its roots of how the story was set up in the first half of the novel. It was compelling and interesting just figuring out why Maisie had that power, how her ancestors were connected and I didn’t mind the dash of romance thrown in for good measure. Also, because there were so many elements to the story, many things that were set up were not answered. I don’t want to get into specifics so as to not reveal ANY spoilers, but there were fundamental plot lines that were just left hanging, not explained or just resolved so quickly that it was disappointing. Why take the time to set these things up if they are not going to be revealed. I know many people loved this book and some of my dislike could be a just “not for me” situation. It was an enjoyable read just not without some issues.
Date published: 2018-05-20

Editorial Reviews

“Fine uses a familiar fairy tale framework to illuminate the fear and oppression of female power…. This framework, the open-hearted, first-person narration from Maise, and just plain good storytelling make the layered exploration accessible and engaging…. [A] lovely debut.”