What Should Be Wild: A Review

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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.

Harper Books provided me with an early copy of What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine in exchange for an honest review. This will be released on Tuesday May 8th!

First let me start by saying that this book was quite a stretch for me. I do not normally gravitate toward fantastical books like this. Anything that requires me to extend the scope of what is real is not my first choice. When I read the description I was intrigued so I decided to give it a go. Those who know me well were shocked that I was reading this. They knew this was way out of my preferred reading zone.

With that being said, I have to admit that I really enjoyed this novel. I could not stop reading this. I did not want to stop reading it! Yes the premise is unique and unusual but Julia’s writing makes it a very beautiful story despite the inclusion of death and curses. Oh the writing. I firmly believe that Julia is the only person who could have woven this story. Her writing is eloquent, precise and just lovely. The forest around the manor grounds is very much a character in the story. That is made abundantly clear by the way Julia chose to describe it. The forest is very much a living and breathing thing. It has its own needs. It has its own desires. It has its own personality. She brilliantly made it real. I could not wait to get to know it more because there was so much mystery to unlock. I had to know it better. That need to know and learn is a testament to Julia’s writing abilities.

There are many moving parts in this. Normally I would find that adding in curses and the “touch of death” would put it over the top. In this case it did not. I was so committed to the story, to the characters and unraveling the mystery surrounding the forest that I did not get lost in the fantastical elements of the story. They really added to the story as was intended. I was so incredibly drawn to Maisie’s female ancestors. I have to say that was probably my favorite aspect of the book. I loved the way in which their stories were slowly unfolded as Maisie was searching for her father. I was very much drawn to those women and their connection to the forest. I found their stories and connections to be so interesting that I really could not stop myself from reading.

While I would really like to go further into the story those are not the sort of reviews that I enjoy reading let alone writing. I prefer to discover the core of the story myself while I am reading it. It is not my style to spoil the plot especially in a novel like this. This is the sort of novel that you let unfold for you in due time. By that I mean let the story reveal itself to you the way the talented author, Julia Fine, intended.

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