cover image What Should Be Wild

What Should Be Wild

Julia Fine. Harper, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-268413-4

Fine’s stellar debut is a mystical combination of curiosity, curses, and compassion. Maisie Cothay possesses the ability to slay and bring back to life with just her touch. As a fetus she kills her mother, Laura, early in the pregnancy, though Laura’s body remains functional until Maisie’s birth in 1990. Maisie’s father, Peter, is an anthropologist fascinated by the myths surrounding Laura’s bloodline, which includes a history of disappearing women. At the center of the mystery is Urizon, an estate next to a magical forest. At 16, Maisie is painfully aware of the secret she must contain, obediently following her father’s rules, such as avoiding touching living beings and staying away from the forest. Her sheltered life is shattered when Peter goes missing, leaving Maisie to embark on a rescue mission into the woods with Matthew, the nephew of a family friend. Within the forest’s dangerous, tangled maze is a group of women trapped in limbo, hoping for passage to the next world, as well as a shadow person waiting for Maisie. Fine creates an entirely new twist on the familiar setup of a young woman facing supernatural obstacles while trying to balance her own blossoming youth. This is an inventive and fascinating modern coming-of-age fairy tale. (May) Correction: this review originally had an incorrect character name.