“…Swan River, could have been known for murder the way Chicago is known for pizza, Roswell for aliens,” (page 1).
On a depressingly gloomy Tuesday, I received a surprise ARC of Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell. I read it in twenty-four hours! Not since The Hunger Games and Blood Red Road have I NOT been able to put down a book: not even to make a coffee or go to the bathroom. From the first sentence in the prologue, Wild Girls gripped me into a frenzy of flipping pages.
This novel oozes with mystery, murder, magic, and friendship. Meeting Kate, Willow, Mason, and Clancy is an enriching experience since they all have something different to offer the plot. Following Kate through her senior year at Swan River Academy with the consuming fear that she’ll turn into one of the monstrous wild girls that menace the community, throwing flame from their hands fuelled my need to read on.
Mary Stewart Atwell grabs onto the trials of the average teenage girl and places them in a backdrop full of dark magic and myths. The emotions, sentiments, and problems Kate faces are very real. We may not relate to the ravenous and blood-hungry wild girls, but we can relate very well to Kate, her teenage angst, her yearning to leave her small town, her struggle in discovering who her real friends are, her crushes, and her (sometimes) naive judgements of her family and friends.
When you (sadly) reach the end of Wild Girls you realize that it’s less about magic and more about the power of making choices. Every girl has a wild side within them; they have a dark side that they keep hidden. It’s the choices they make that can save them from that dark and dangerous side. Having drive, independence, and determination is wonderful. Having a fire within you is a good thing. How you use it determines who you are and what you will become.
“There was a part of me that wanted to misbehave, to make my own rules, and that part of me admired Willow’s confidence,” (page 47).
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
A mix of Prep’s critique of boarding school culture and the suspenseful and high-stakes plot of The Secret History, this highly original debut is part coming-of-age story, part riveting supernatural tale about teenage girls learning their own strength.
Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she’ll be a frustrated townie forever, or that she’ll turn into one of the monstrous Wild Girls that menace the community, throwing flame from their hands. Struggling to better her chances of escaping, Kate attends the posh Swan River Academy and finds herself divided between two worlds: the simple town and its dark twin, a commune off Bloodwort Road, where hippie farming and occult practices led to a disastrous end; and the realm of privilege and achievement at the Academy. Explosive friendships with Mason, a boy from the wrong side of the river, and Willow, a wealthy and charismatic queen bee from school, are slowly pulling her apart. Kate must decide who she is and where she belongs before she wakes up with cinders at her fingertips.