cover image Wildwood Whispers

Wildwood Whispers

Willa Reece. Redhook, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-59176-8

The Appalachian Mountains are alive with magic in this folksy, feminist contemporary fantasy from Reece (Hunger, written as Barbara J. Hancock). Mel Smith grew up hard, bouncing between abusive foster homes with only Sarah Ross, her unofficially adopted sister, as a constant. When Sarah dies in a car accident that might not have been so accidental, the now 23-year-old Mel travels to Morgan’s Gap, a small Virginia mountain town, to scatter Sarah’s ashes in the Ross family garden. Immediately taken in by the local herbalist known as “Granny,” Mel finds a home in Morgan’s Gap, discovering a surprising connection with both mysterious local biologist Jacob Walker and the woods on the edge of town. But there’s darkness lurking beneath the town’s façade. When an oppressive cult called The Sect and the town’s bullying mayor threaten the peace Mel has finally found, she must learn to harness her burgeoning druidic power to fight back. Though the pace drags a little in the middle, Mel’s story is full of human compassion and animal wisdom that will charm readers. This works both as a contemporary fairy tale and a slow-burning romance—and fans of both genres will appreciate this walk through the wild woods. Agent: Lucienne Diver, the Knight Agency. (Aug.)