Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What Should Be Wild” as Want to Read:
What Should Be Wild
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What Should Be Wild

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,694 ratings  ·  539 reviews
“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

In this darkly funny, striking debut, a highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to re
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Harper
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What Should Be Wild, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Laura No, it's nothing like Pushing Daisies, which was fun and lighthearted and whimsical. The absolutely only thing similar with Pushing Daisies is that th…moreNo, it's nothing like Pushing Daisies, which was fun and lighthearted and whimsical. The absolutely only thing similar with Pushing Daisies is that they both involve a girl who can revive dead things (but in this book they stay alive) or kill them with a touch.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,694 ratings  ·  539 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of What Should Be Wild
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Maybe I'm slightly biased, but I'm a fan.
Hannah Greendale
They grew me inside of my mother, which was unusual, because she was dead.

There's a lot to love about Fine's debut novel, a book that blends magical realism with lore. The opening chapters are among its most dazzling: a child with a peculiar, dare I say it magical talent; a foreboding, two-hundred year old house; and a tangled wood with a secret that spans generations.

Unfortunately, the narrative is weakened by the introduction of a secondary character whose presence disrupts an otherwise m
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melania 🍒

It took me longer than it should to realize why I don’t like this more. I mean, we have some interesting magical elements present, the characters were all well built, overall quirky tone (many times I felt that I was reading a Wes Anderson script) but still pretty good ,we have some dark, messed up stuff happening, there weren’t problematic aspects .

And then 80% in (after reading this for a whole month) I realized where’s the problem: the author never gets directly to the freaking point.
Ohhhhhh dear. This is such a shame.

I was so enthralled by the first fifty pages of this book, and really thought I'd be in for a deliciously dark treat. Julia Fine's prose is stunning, and she's not afraid to get WEIRD with her writing, which I really appreciate. She immediately strikes the perfect mood, delivers such a wonderful setup, introduces such interesting concepts, aaaaaand then...

it just completely nosedives in its execution. This bursting-with-potential story about women goes off the
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I think Julia Fine's debut novel What Should Be Wild is a fresh new voice for the literary community. The story was a bit confusing in the beginning but everything became clear at the end. Such an inventive, distinct, unique new story. i received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I am very excited to tell you that I loved this book.

This is a "coming of age" story about Maisie Cothay, who comes from a long line of women who are cursed. The story is told in two par
Nicole Beaudry
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What Should Be Wild is the book I've been waiting for, maybe since I was a little girl. What Should Be Wild is a promise, a warning, a breath of fresh air, frankly. Julia Fine, in her debut (!!!), deftly draws on fairy tales, seeks out their darkest roots, to craft a feminist story that carefully, almost cautiously, explores the ways in which women have been subjugated time and time again, but she seeks out the chinks of light, the ways in which women have attempted to subvert their forced obeis ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What Should Be Wild had me hooked from the start, carefully layering in the mysterious elements of a fantastical world and its fascinating characters. Julie Fine's narrative pacing is brilliant, painting a vivid, satisfying picture that draws you into her world while leaving enough questions to keep the momentum of the story. The twisty, darkly beautiful atmosphere of the book reflects the inner lives of it's characters as the plot unfolds carefully, leaving the reader hungry for answers while r ...more
Jennie Melamed
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dark, imaginative fairy tale that kept me enthralled! Very highly recommended.
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
3.5 dark fantasy stars

You can follow my reviews here on my blog https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

Maisie has the power of life or death. She is a young girl grown to adulthood without being able to be touched or to touch others for her touch brings both death and life. She is hidden away with her father, Peter, an anthropologist, who tries to investigate the woods that surround their home and bring with it a hidden curse.

The women in Maisie's family have vanished into the woods for count
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
The concept for this book was really interesting, but I felt the author didn’t do enough with it. Maisie can kill or reanimate with a touch due to a very old family curse. The story builds on dark fairy tales and feminist themes, but it is hard to connect with the characters.
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
3.5 Stars.

What a delicious and dark fairy tale/magical realism/fantasy - I'm unsure how to actually categorize this one! Very unique and probably won't be for every reader because of how different it is. The main storyline is Maisie, her unique ability to bring things to life or to kill them with her very touch, and her quest to find her father, Peter, when he disappears - seemingly to go looking for her.

And then we get my favorite parts - the darker side. Where the women in the forest, who span
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Little Maisie Cothay was born from her mother’s dead body. Right away (thankfully) her father discovered that the touch of her bare skin would kill- or resurrect. It could even happen repeatedly- she killed her father several times before reaching toddlerhood. She could even resurrect the long dead, which necessitated coating all the bare wood floors and trims in the house she grew up in with several coats of varnish, and making sure she only wore synthetic fiber clothing. She grew up in her mot ...more
Janelle Janson
Thank you so much Harper Books for my free copy of WHAT SHOULD BE WILD by Julia Fine - all opinions are my own.

This is a dark, unique, and creative debut that combines the style of an age old fairy tale with modern nuances. Maisie Cothay is sixteen years old and leads a cursed life. She has the rare ability to resurrect the dead and kill any living thing. She’s had to live her entire life without touching a single soul. Growing up, her only company is her father and a housekeeper until one day s
Vague spoilers ahead:

Wow. What a disappointment. The only thing keeping this from one star was Julia Fine's technical writing skill and my odd and almost spiteful desire to finish the story, mostly so that I could say I had. What started out as a beautiful, dark, interesting plot quickly turned into a nonsensical, poorly plotted attempt at allegory, with almost no payoff at the end. It's been a long time since I was so frustrated with a protagonist (and this may have largely had to do with the
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Since the Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books I was excited to read anything Audrey Niffenegger strongly endorsed. Overall, really a wonderful read.

The basic premise is that a girl, Maisie, is born with the ability/curse to kill or being back to life anything she touches. The book made me reconsider my perspective on physicality in a new way. After her dad disappears, Maisie is forced to leave her safe hideaway. During her explorations of this well-built world, we are introduced to
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What Should Be Wild is a darkly enchanting story about a young woman who kills or resurrects everything she touches. It takes the essence of so much contemporary anxiety around childhood, gender, sexuality, and the natural world and pours it into timeless, haunting characters, distilling and exposing the conversations I have with my closest friends about what it means to be repressed, free, obedient, alienated, loved, or truly *wild.* The novel layers storylines and then blends them all together ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What Should Be Wild is an incredibly unique and intriguing story filled with the perfect mix of magic and adventure. This story has a wonderfully dark edge that makes the mythical elements more real. Maisie is written so that you somehow relate to her lonely and isolating upbringing and root for her along the way. The characters she meets in her search for her father increases the mystery of her existence and add to her background. Highly recommend for those that want a different kind of story.
Maisie Cothay is a 16 years old who has the power to kill or resurrect another living creature, who has never felt another persons touch or picked a flower. She and her father, an anthropologist widower, live on the edge of a mysterious forest. After her dad vanishes, she sets off to uncover the truth regarding the woods, her father's studies, with the hopes in lifting her curse. What Should Be Wild is a fairy-tale crossed with magical realism for grown-ups with similarities to Beast of Extraord ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-deck
I received this from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I was almost hesitant to read this one - a girl who can kill or resurrect with just her touch. I felt like it could go either way - it could be a fantastic or a very trite fairy tale. I'm glad I took a change with this one because it was fantastic. It honestly blew me away and there was so much depths and layers to the story. The writing was great, and the world development was great. Highly recommended.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereading
I can't say I'm typically a fan of the books folks categorize as magical realism, but this....this felt both real and was like magic in its ability to transport me into its little world.

Maise has never felt a kiss on her cheek, a warm hand in hers, skin-on-skin. With a simple touch, she can kill. Or, alternately, she can revive. There's a beautiful description of her toddling across a lawn, leaving a brown trail of dead grass behind her; they even had to coat the wood used to build their old hom
Angela Marie
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 millenni ...more
Kim McGee
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the fairy tales warn children of going into the woods alone. Nothing good ever comes out of it. "What Should Be Wild" has the eerie quality of all those lovely Grimm fairy tales and an off kilter feel to it. A child is born, the mother dies leaving the father to raise her alone in the old secluded family home. He keeps her and her secret hidden so her only companions are her dad and the housekeeper.
Her touch can kill and a retouch can bring back life. Maisie hungers for the touch of another
Patty Smith
Thank you to Edelweiss, HarperCollins and Julia Fine for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A young girl grows up without ever having held someone’s hand or received the comfort of a hug. She has a strange, magical ability whereby the tiniest brush against her skin causes death or gives life. Her father, Peter, has kept her isolated on his deceased wife’s estate. He is afraid of Maisie’s powers and makes sure that she abides by a strict set of rules, including never to touch a living thing.
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book completely swept me away! It's gently unpredictable, yet all my questions were answered, no stone left unturned. Great tension-building and impeccable pacing from the first to very last page, and an actual, solid ending. This dark, magical fairy tale-like novel is right up there with Aimee Bender-level perfection, but Julia Fine's style is all her own. Love, love, love!
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bram-stoker-2018
This was a good read. It had a magical feel to it that gave it a dark fairytale feeling.
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
What Should Be Wild was a captivating read from beginning to end. As soon as I read the synopsis for this book, my interest was piqued. If I may be perfectly honest, the stunning cover was what first caught my eye. Gorgeous, and so fitting for this dark tale.

It’s difficult to imagine a life in which you can’t truly experience touch – such a basic human interaction that we crave from the moment we take our first breath. Maisie Cothay was not your basic, average girl. Her slightest touch could snu
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and haunting. This story has the feel of one of those old, original fairy tales in that it's dark, twisted and more than a little gruesome. It's incredibly imaginative and I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. There is quite a bit of animal death and some resurrection and it's fairly graphic so you may want to give this one a pass if you're sensitive to animal suffering. There were more than a few moments that made me cringe and I'm pretty tough. (The horses wi ...more
Mindy Rose
May 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
once upon a time there's a girl and everything she touches dies, including her mother while the girl was still in her womb, which is a GREAT premise for a story but somehow every other aspect of this fell flat with me. lots of cliche "oh gosh, the boy who was trying to protect me the whole time actually WAS looking out for my best interests" and a ton of flashback history of the girl's family that didn't really have anything to do with anything, in the end, concluded by the most anti climactic n ...more
Erin Wicks
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is a rare and enchanting read. the author has a distinct and powerful writing style that immediately pulled me in. the ain character who is cursed is smart and funny and makes such an unusual premise feel not only plausible but real and relatable.

i loved the sections that traveled bacl into the lives of maisies female ancestors too. they are imaginative and atmospheric and really chilling. its a book thats chock full of feminist characters and themes without ever hitting you over the head
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine - 3 stars 2 19 Jul 02, 2018 05:57AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood
  • The Starless Sea
  • The Small Hand and Dolly
  • Magic for Liars
  • The Book of M
  • Gingerbread
  • Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January
  • Upright Women Wanted
  • In the House in the Dark of the Woods
  • The Water Cure
  • The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3)
  • The Dreamers
  • The Girl from Widow Hills
  • The Paris Library
  • Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days
  • Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants
  • A Cosmology of Monsters
See similar books…

Related Articles

Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman know the radical life-changing power of a good friendship. The two launched their hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend ...
13 likes · 2 comments
“Nothing promises revival like a fairy tale.” 4 likes
“The way a memory is real, but also not real.” I spoke quickly, with bravado. “If time is one long line and we’re all moving across it, there has to be a place we’re headed, and a place that we’ve just left. Obviously, the memory is the place that we left.” Rafe seemed impressed.” 2 likes
More quotes…