22 May 2018

Today's Read: What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

What Should Be Wild by Julia FineWhat if your very touch had the ability to kill and resurrect? Could you live without directly touching any living (or once-living) thing? That is Maisie Cathey's fate, who killed her mother when still in her womb.

Deep in the wood there is a dappled clearing, a quiet space between two hills heavy with trees. A prickling bower joins the fists of land, letting through a single shaft of dusty light. Muffled birdsong can be heard, if you are quiet, carried on the whispering breeze. Old oaks cast heart-deep shadows. Alders bow their branches low.
What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine (Harper Books, 2018, p. 1; Prologue)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: 1990s; a centuries-old family estate
  • Circumstances: In the modern world, Maisie Cathey is, like other women in her family's long history, cursed. She lives an isolated life in her late-mother's mansion, never feeling the comfort of another's touch. Wearing protective clothing, she may go outside but her father forbids her to go into the woods. Some of her female ancestors who dared walked among the trees disappeared forever. Maisie copes well enough until her 16th year, when she loses both her housekeeper and her father within days of each other, leaving the girl entirely alone. With a few clues to guide her, Maisie finally steps beyond the confines of her home to search for her missing father . . . but all the while, she feels the pull of the woods behind her house.
  • Genre: feminist Gothic mystery (how do you like that for a genre?)
  • Characters: Maisie, 16 years old, cursed, and innocent of the world; Peter, her father, an anthropologist; Mrs. Blott, their housekeeper; seven of Maisie's female ancestors who entered the woods but never returned
  • More than just Maisie: For 1,300 years, women in Maisie's family tree have entered the woods to escape the burdens of their gender, never to return. We hear their voices and learn their stories.
  • The good so far: I'm not quite halfway through the novel, but I'm invested: I want to know what happened to Peter, and I want to know how the stories of the seven lost women tie into Maisie's story. I want to know if Maisie's condition is permanent. I love the fairy tale / folk tale elements and the dark, Gothic atmosphere that Julia Fine has created.
  • The not so good so far: It took me a few chapters to be pulled into What Should Be Wild, but once Maisie had a reason to leave her estate, things picked up.
  • Who would like this novel: fans of Gothic mysteries, stories with strong female characters, books with feminist themes, and/or dark fairy tales


rhapsodyinbooks 5/22/18, 6:20 AM  

I started this but it just seemed too improbable to me, so I stopped. I'll be interested to hear your impression when you finish!

Girl Who Reads 5/22/18, 7:13 AM  

It sounds interesting and looks like it could be really good, but I don't know if it is kind of my book. See what we are featuring at Girl Who Reads

Daryl 5/22/18, 8:43 AM  

i am going to wait til your done and then decide ...tho it does sound appealing

Kay 5/22/18, 8:48 AM  

Well, you had me at 'fans of Gothic mysteries'. That statement alone would have me checking it out. So I will. :-)

Susie | Novel Visits 5/22/18, 9:06 AM  

Hmm...I'm just not sure about this one. Gothic usually isn't my thing, but I'll wait to hear your final thoughts on this one. i do love that cover!

Laurel-Rain Snow 5/22/18, 9:14 AM  

Feminist Gothic piques my curiosity! Thanks for sharing, and I do want to read more. Here's mine: “THE GUNNERS”

BooksPlease 5/22/18, 9:18 AM  

Looks the kind of book I'd enjoy!

Kathy Martin 5/22/18, 9:37 AM  

Interesting genre. The description has quite a fairy tale feel. This week I have Willnot by James Sallis. Happy reading!

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian 5/22/18, 11:20 AM  

Sounds like an unusual read. Hope you like it.

bermudaonion 5/22/18, 4:11 PM  

I think it would be really tough to go through life without touching anyone. I'm anxious to see your final thoughts on this one.

Margot 5/22/18, 5:42 PM  

This is an interesting concept. I don't want to go through life without touching. Good luck reading this one.

Greg 5/22/18, 7:11 PM  

Interesting premise, and I like that snippet! Makes you feel like you're right there, in the woods.

Yvonne 5/22/18, 11:20 PM  

This one sounds really interesting.

Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine 5/23/18, 8:55 AM  

This is not my usual genre but I love the premise and the intro. I've read a bit of magical realism lately that I've really enjoyed. This one looks like it may be another good option to get me reading out of my comfort zone. I've added it to my GR want-to-read list.

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