Review: What Should Be Wild (& Giveaway!) / by Madeleine Riley

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Note: TST received a copy of this text from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

What Should Be Wild is the story of a girl with an unusual curse: she has the power to kill and resurrect with a single touch. Maisie Cothay has been isolated for her entire life, sequestered on the grounds of her family's ancestral home: a manor called Urizon. There, Maisie is covered head to toe, and constantly alert to the effects of her unique ability to bring life or death. Maisie's father, an anthropologist, is more interested in Maisie as an experiment than as a daughter. He establishes firm rules for her conduct at all times, and cautions her from venturing into the woods surrounding their estate; the village folklore speaks of wild and mysterious forces within the trees. While Maisie struggles with her identity and a seemingly dismal future, the woods house her ancestors -- women who escaped into the forest, thinking it a savior but realizing that it was a different sort of prison. Maisie is curious about the woods, but heeds her father's warning, until the day her father goes missing. Maisie takes it upon herself to explore the woods, its past, and the boundaries of her relationships with others.

This book is one of those stories that needs time to steep -- as I was chatting with other readers about my progress through the book, I kept repeating that I liked it a lot, but it wasn't one that had me dropping everything to read another five pages. After a slower start, in which Julia Fine weaved an intricate story of ancestral turmoil and Maisie's isolated life, the story took off with the disappearance of Maisie's father. At that point, I was hooked and wanted to see how everything was going to tie together in the end. Aside from adoring the cover design and unique premise, I also loved the gothic setting of this book. An old manor house with lots of a secrets, and a wood that housed the spirits of the women who had come before, desperate to escape their immortal confinement. I loved that the magic was so dark and so unexplained -- it truly felt like I couldn't be sure of anyone's (or anything's) motives, and the homage to classic, Grimm fairy tales was clear. The disappearance of Maisie's father and the subsequent action felt a little out of place, until the ending shed new light and gave the reader a better understanding of the "full circle" nature of the story. This is truly more of a literary tale than your typical fantasy story, and I'm absolutely on board to read whatever Julia Fine comes out with next. Highly recommended for fans of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5


  • Title: What Should Be Wild
  • Author: Julia Fine
  • Publisher: Harper Books
  • Price: $25 on Amazon
  • Format: Advanced Reading Copy
  • Source: Haper Books

I'm partnering with Harper Books today on Instagram for a giveaway! Head to this post to enter. One TST winner will receive a finished hardcover copy of the book and a beautiful pressed flower bookmark.