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The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang
Magical realism

The Wilderwomen

Repeat author

Ruth Emmie Lang is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance.

by Ruth Emmie Lang
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Quick take

One sister can see the future; the other people’s memories. Together can they unravel their mother’s disappearance?

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Puzzle


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Roadtrip


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Siblings



Five years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared. The older of her two daughters, Zadie, should have seen it coming, because she can literally see things coming. But not even her psychic abilities were able to prevent their mother from vanishing one morning.

Zadie’s estranged younger sister, Finn, can’t see into the future, but she has an uncannily good memory, so good that she remembers not only her own memories, but the echoes of memories other people have left behind. On the afternoon of her graduation party, Finn is seized by an “echo” more powerful than anything she’s experienced before: a woman singing a song she recognizes, a song about a bird . . .

When Finn wakes up alone in an aviary with no idea of how she got there, she realizes who the memory belongs to: Nora.

Now, it’s up to Finn to convince her sister that not only is their mom still out there, but that she wants to be found. Against Zadie’s better judgment, she and Finn hit the highway, using Finn’s echoes to retrace Nora’s footsteps and uncover the answer to the question that has been haunting them for years: Why did she leave?

But the more time Finn spends in their mother’s past, the harder it is for her to return to the present, to return to herself. As Zadie feels her sister start to slip away, she will have to decide what lengths she is willing to go to to find their mother, knowing that if she chooses wrong, she could lose them both for good.

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Why I love it

I’m a sucker for puzzles and word games. I love linking clues, or letters, or cardboard pieces, in hopes of reaching a satisfying conclusion. The same holds true for my most beloved novels. For me, the best book includes some sort of mystery to unravel. And that’s exactly what The Wilderwomen delivered, and then some.

The Wilder sisters have been estranged since their mother’s strange disappearance five years ago. But they are reunited when Zadie attends her younger sister Finn’s graduation. During this reunion, Finn experiences a perplexing “echo,” a supernatural gift that allows her to experience other people’s memories. This echo makes Finn more determined than ever to find their mother. Plagued with guilt (and her own psychic gifts), Zadie reluctantly agrees. The two set off on a magical and mysterious road trip, collecting colorful characters and cryptic clues along the way, in hopes of finally solving the mystery that’s haunted them for years. What happened to their mother that night she disappeared?

Anyone who’s ever lost someone they love will feel the sisters’ pull towards a place they’ve never been, their longing for something just beyond their grasp, their relentless desire to feel loved and protected and whole. The Wilderwomen is an exquisite story of magic and spirituality, of sisterly bonds and maternal ties, deftly imbued with a touch of the supernatural. Ruth Emmie Lang’s dazzling imagination, along with her ability to bring that vision to life on the page, left me utterly spellbound.

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