“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
Finalist for the Bram Stoker Superior Achievement in a First Novel Award • Shortlisted for the Chicago Review of Books Best Novel Prize • A Bustle Unmissable Debut of the Year • A Popsugar Best Book of the Year • 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.
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, Laurie, early in the pregnancy, though Laurie's body remains functional until Maisie's birth in 1990. Maisie's father, Peter, is an anthropologist fascinated by the myths surrounding Laurie'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.