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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

Excellent choice

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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

    Puzzle

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Roadtrip

    Roadtrip

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Siblings

    Siblings

Synopsis

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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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Wilderwomen.
The Wilderwomen

BEFORE

Nora Wilder was supposed to be a bird. At least that’s what she thought when she looked at herself in the mirror and saw arms where wings should be. The closest she actually came to flying was when her younger daughter, Finn, slipped from her grasp and sprinted toward a busy street. Nora swooped down on the toddler, and Finn’s tiny body began to tremble in her arms. As her daughter anxiously kneaded her chest, Nora stroked her soft-spun curls and wished she didn’t have to scare her baby to keep her safe.

Although her wings were imaginary, Nora felt an almost continuous desire to stretch them, to unclench the knot in her back that tied them down and with one powerful flap, lift off into a cloudless sky. Their being imaginary also didn’t mean that her wings weren’t so blue they were almost black, the kind of blue you wade into and disappear. That’s what Nora saw when she walked out her front door for the last time: the tips of two ink-blue wings fanning her peripherals, one for each of the daughters she would leave behind.

Nora’s elder daughter, Zadie, must have been part bird because she knew how to squawk. When Zadie was a baby, Nora was convinced that she must have swallowed bagpipes filled with broken glass, because that was the sound that came out of her mouth every time she cried. It sometimes lasted for hours at a time, and Nora did everything she could think of to get her to stop. She would try rocking her, feeding her, changing her. When all else failed, she’d play one of her favorite cassettes in hopes it would soothe her daughter to sleep.

It wouldn’t. Zadie would only wail harder. Nora would look at the phone on the wall and wish she had someone she could call, someone who’d rush over and recommend a kooky home remedy like rubbing smashed bananas on her baby’s chest while counting to one hundred. That wouldn’t work, either, but at least she’d have someone to talk to and hug when she started crying, too.

She was alone in a town she barely knew with a screaming baby who had terrible taste in music, but something outside of herself was telling her this was the place she was supposed to be.

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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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Member ratings (14,799)

  • Kayli F.

    Beaufort, SC

    Amazing! I love the way it was written. A beautiful story about family ❤️ Made me cry. Hit close to home because of the bond I have with my mom and sister. The magic in it was a total plus! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Nadia K.

    Aberdeen, WA

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ OH. MY. LORD This was such a great read. It had an amazing ending; After I turned the last page I was hoping there was more but was happy with how it ended. This whole story line was…AHHHH

  • Christine R.

    East Rutherford, NJ

    Wow🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 This book has all the feels. A long-lost sister mystery combined with magical powers? Love! I encourage anyone who has felt inspired by birdsongs to pick up this book! Breathtaking! 🕊🪺

  • Rosie K.

    Madison, WI

    An entrancing book about the bond between mothers and daughters with a hint of supernatural elements thrown in. Loved the connection the author forged for all characters. Well written. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Dylan S.

    Lakewood, CO

    loved this book. the mother/daughter relationships are amazingly written. it isn’t sunshine and rainbows, it’s pain and deceit and how the daughters deal with that. while yes, it’s magical realism!

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