I’m going to compare this novel to another novel that isn’t really anything like it, but go with it. There’s a method to my madness. When I read The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, I found myself smiling the entire time. The same thing happened with The Wilderwomen. This novel bursts with beautiful ideas, incandescent language, and moments that invoke a true sense of wonder. I couldn’t help smiling as I read it, even when the words simultaneously brought tears to my eyes, which happened more than once.
Teenage Finn Wilder and her older sister Zadie were set adrift when their mother Nora disappeared five years ago. Finn lives with a foster family, Zadie is on her own, and they’ve also drifted apart from each, overwhelmed by the pain and hurt caused by Nora walking way. Something was increasingly wrong with her in the months before her leaving, but they don’t know what.
One thing the sisters share besides the loss of their mother is that they both have special talents. Zadie can sometimes see future events, and Finn receives “echos”, of other peoples memories they’ve left behind. When Finn loses herself in an echo from Nora, she convinces Zadie to go on a road trip following that echo in search of their mom.
This road trip becomes a journey that forces Finn and Zadie to confront things that have been left unsaid, brings them together, and shows them a world filled with mysteries and wonderment. Lang has crafted a novel that sings and dances—the quiet, tender moments are balanced with joyful sequences that had me, as I said above, smiling in delight. Her characters, particularly the three Wilder women, are richly drawn and fully realized. I was fully invested in them and their journey from beginning to end. Speaking of the end, Lang nails it. It’s deeply satisfying.
The Wilderwomen will be released on November 15th, 2022. Believe me when I tell you, this is worthy of a pre-order. And one last thing, as a Clevelander, I was happy to discover that Lang is a fellow Ohioan. We’re lucky to have her.