What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine is a wonderful fairy tale set in modern times.
Although there are some dark undertones in the book (this darkness seems to grow as the book progresses), there also is a hope that grows as well. I know that that description sounds counter to each other, but it works. It works because for many of the characters there is a darkness that grows, but for Maisie (the main character) there is a hope and yearning for freedom from her affliction.
It is an original and intriguing story that keeps the reader captivated as Fine switches between the women in the woods and Maisie. It has serious undertones of a fairy tale with a malevolent dark figure, an innocent heroine, and magic.
Even though it seems like a fairy tale, the characters are very relatable. Some of them have supernatural powers, but they have very human characteristics. For example, even though Maisie cannot touch someone or something without killing it or bringing it back to life, she experiences that very human need for touch. She yearns to touch someone without the fear of killing them. This yearning drives her to solve the mystery of the missing women in her ancestral family.
Fine gracefully weaves a common thread through all of the women who have been lost to the wood – tragedy and how that tragedy is passed down through the generations. Although the tragedy varies, it has the same outcome for the women.
A good read.