Wild Girls

( 3 )


Daringly imagined, atmospheric, and original, Wild Girls is an exhilarating debut—part coming-of-age story and part supernatural tale about 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 mysterious and terrifying wild girls, killers who start fires and menace the community. Struggling to better her chances of escaping, Kate...

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Wild Girls

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Daringly imagined, atmospheric, and original, Wild Girls is an exhilarating debut—part coming-of-age story and part supernatural tale about 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 mysterious and terrifying wild girls, killers who start fires and menace the community. Struggling to better her chances of escaping, Kate attends the posh Swan River Academy and finds herself divided between her hometown—and its dark history—and the realm of privilege and achievement at the Academy. Explosive friendships with Mason, a boy from the wrong side of town, and Willow, a wealthy and popular 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.

Mary Stewart Atwell has written a novel that is at once funny and wise and stunningly inventive. Her wild girls are strange and fascinating creatures—a brilliant twist on the anger teenage girls can feel at their powerlessness—and a promise of the great things to come from this young writer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Atwell’s debut novel unfolds in Swan River, Tenn., where Kate Riordan spends her teenage years fearing that she’ll succumb to the supernatural madness that seems to afflict many town girls at random, giving them uncanny abilities and the desire to kill. Though some Swan River neighborhoods are desolate, the village is also home to the posh boarding school where Kate’s mother works as a secretary. Thanks to a tuition discount, Kate and her older sister, Maggie, attend the academy, where they encounter girls from different social stratum. Among them are the beautiful, charismatic Willow Becker—a local girl with nouveau riche, social-climbing parents—and Kate’s best friend Caroline, who has an intense interest in mythology and the history of the region’s Wild Girls in particular. Atwell navigates familiar territory, describing the usual jealousies, ssues of social class, love triangles, and cults-of-personality that crop up in books featuring prep-school settings. But amid such familiar tropes, the paranormal touches are welcome, and Atwell works them into the narrative very well. Agent: Denise Shannon. (Oct. 16)
West End Word
Wild Girls successfully creates a sinister atmosphere for this engaging tale of a young girl facing her fears and her future.”
From the Publisher
“Fire-lit from start to finish, Wild Girls is a story of Appalachian magic, conflagration, and supernatural violence; it is also a quiet and keenly perceptive account of the close ties (and the noose knots) that bind adolescent female friendships. Atwell has written a fantastic hybrid, part horror story and part bildungsroman: an elegy to the midnight selves that girls try to destroy, overcome, ‘outgrow’ on the way to adulthood, and a testament to their uncanny resilience.” —Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

"Wild Girls lives up to its name. This beautifully written novel alternates lyrical passages with sharp eruptions of emotional fervor, with surprises on every page. The characters and the relationship between them are drawn with compassion and an utter lack of sentimentality. Wild Girls is an impressive debut from a writer we’ll be anxious to hear more from." —Alice LaPlante, author of Turn of Mind

"If Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides were somehow miraculously to be gene-spliced with one of Joyce Carol Oates' baroque backwoods concoctions, you might end up with something very much like WILD GIRLS: sensual, frightening, written in lines of diamond-hard prose. One could not ask for a more exciting first novel." — Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories

Wild Girls is a thrilling and dangerous trek through the haunted wilderness of adolescence. You will lose yourself in the mist of Atwell’s implacable Appalachian landscape, in the mystical years of girlhood, in the mythology of violence, and you will find yourself in every character, in every stunning revelation. I simply loved this book.”

—Alison Espach, the author of The Adults

St. Louis Post Dispatch
“Atwell has imbued Wild Girls with wit, humor and sometimes startling atmosphere. She makes Kate sympathetic and the tensions in her life believable.”
Shelf Awareness
"A chilling tale of high school girls gone wild, capturing the terrors of both adolescence and dark magic in one sweeping story.”
Fiction Writers Review
"Atwell uses witchcraft, legend, herbal lore, and just enough factual evidence to keep the reader—and Kate—guessing about the mysterious series of events that unfold."
Library Journal
Seventeen-year-old senior Kate Riordan is smart, well behaved, and terrified. Since at least 1890, her small Appalachian hometown of Swan River has been producing "Wild Girls," otherwise normal young women between the ages of 16 and 18 who have catastrophic meltdowns that result in murder and mayhem. Kate is a scholarship student at the Swan River Academy for Girls, a boarding school for the upper-crust daughters of politicians and moguls, where her mother is secretary to the headmaster. She and everyone else at the academy are fascinated by the Wild Girls, always wondering who will be next. When Maggie, Kate's older sister, has her Wild Girl moment, Kate feels that a worse storm is brewing. Her friends—devoted Caroline, edgy Willow, and handsome Mason, son of a nearby commune member—tug Kate in opposite directions as her fears escalate. VERDICT First-time novelist Atwell deftly mixes things up. Kate is a mature narrator whose sense of fairness and responsibility holds at bay the usual tensions over cliques, bullying, and competitive nastiness until an explosive episode of demonic possession targets the whole town.—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor District Lib., MI
Kirkus Reviews
In the dying Appalachian town of Swan River, Kate Riordan attends the rather elite Academy for Girls. She's a local girl, torn between her hometown roots and her desire to escape. Atwell's debut novel examines the violence simmering among adolescent girls and their friendships. Kate's mother and older sister seem stuck with dead-end jobs and underwhelming boyfriends. Swan River is cursed not only with simmering rage rooted in economic failure, but also with its shrouded history of wild girls. Every so often, teenage girls suddenly begin to glow, set things on fire with just their fingertips, massacre townspeople and sometimes even fly. The danger seems to derive from the poorest section of town, Bloodwort Road, where the witchlike Mrs. Lemons tells frightening fortunes; her daughter Crystal seems particularly unstable; and her son Mason seeks his own escape by dating Academy girls. Yet, the Academy isn't as far removed from Bloodwort Road as Kate hopes. Her best friend, the popular Willow, is adept at collecting girls--her minions, as Kate mockingly calls them--yet she convinces Kate to set her up with Mason. Kate's other best friend, Caroline, has already begun researching the history of the wild girls. Dr. Bell, the Academy's headmaster and teacher of "Myths and Mysteries," stokes her interest in the local legend by linking it to the disturbing Greek maenads. When Crystal turns wild one night, burning down most of Bloodwort Road and Willow provokes Mason into a jealous confrontation, Kate begins to realize that Mason and Swan River may mean more to her than Willow and the Academy. But the wilding isn't over yet. Unfortunately, the suspense drags rather than builds, and events move along sluggishly toward a predictable confrontation. These girls are less wild than troubled.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451683271
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 10/16/2012
  • Pages: 273
  • Sales rank: 1,004,712
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Stewart Atwell's short fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices and Best American Mystery Stories. She grew up in southwest Virginia and now lives in Missouri.

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Customer Reviews

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( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    This is an awsome book m This book is so cool

    Read it u will luv it just to be sure read the sample

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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