What Should Be Wild, by Julia Fine

35068762Girls without mothers raised by somewhat clueless fathers are not uncommon in literature. What is uncommon is Maisie Cothay’s ability to instantly kill and resurrect living things. In Julia Fine’s What Should Be Wild, Maisie grows up on her family’s secluded estate somewhere in the English countryside. She wears gloves all the time and is under strict orders not to touch anything. But childhood has to come to an end. When Maisie turns 16, a series of events conspire to set her on a rough journey into adulthood and a reckoning with her strange abilities.

Maisie’s childhood, without a mother and without any human touch, is a lonely one. She copes with her father’s aloofness as best she can. Not surprisingly, she longs for companionship. When she turns 16 and the housekeeper passes away, Maisie’s grief and her dog’s macabre theft of the housekeeper’s leg sends her into the forest around Urizon, the family estate. The forest is the object of sinister legends. Women in Maisie’s family have disappeared into the forest over the centuries. Unbeknownst to everyone outside the forest, those women are still alive—and they want to get out.

An awful lot of awful things happen in What Should Be Wild, but at the heart of all the plots and subplots is the moral that women should not be caged by walls, by rules, or by magic. When women are hemmed in, those literal and figurative walls stunt their growth. They can wither away or go mad and, eventually, there will come a moment when a woman has to make a choice to either accept the limits or do whatever they can to break loose.

What Should Be Wild is a modern twist on fairy tales. There is plenty of messing around with powers without knowing the rules and cautionary tales to scare the pants off of children. The main plot meanders, sometimes in ways that I felt were superfluous to requirements. That said, I enjoyed the novel’s originality. I was hooked the entire time I read it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss, for review consideration. It will be released 8 May 2018. 

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