No Wait Wednesday: The Wonder State by Sara Flannery Murphy

Hello and welcome to #NoWaitWednesday, where we take a look at a title that's available on the New Release shelves at one of our branch Libraries, just waiting for some lucky patron to place a hold on it.

With the official start of fall finally on the horizon, some patrons might be looking for a novel that's a bit darker than some of the titles we've previously discussed in this space - something more moody to fit the changing weather, perhaps. Something that's written with an elegant yet gripping prose, with the kind of story where you never really know where it's going but it grabs your attention and forces you to keep turning pages. Something that's not quite horror, not quite fantasy, and not quite thriller - but something that's a combination of all three of those genres.

The Wonder State by Sara Flannery Murphy might just be the title you're looking for. Murphy, author of 2021's buzzworthy Girl One, is back with a moody, gothic fantasy/thriller that's set in the Arkansas Ozarks. This novel revolves around a group of teens who are drawn together by their shared obsession with a collection of houses created by a talented yet reclusive female architect, who, it is whispered, could see into other worlds. Each house comes with its own unique style and history - as well as a hint of the supernatural - and the friends form a fierce bond while investigating them until disaster forces them apart.

Flash forward to years later, and while most of the friends have gone their separate ways, one of the girls, Brandi, stayed behind, continuing her research into the houses while at the same time struggling with addiction. She then reaches out to her old friends with a mysterious note - has she finally discovered something? - and when everyone returns, they discover that she has gone missing, and the reformed group must follow in her footsteps and retrace - and also rediscover - the magic they left behind. Is the note a trap? A cry for help? Or something else?

A intoxicating mixture of Lev Grossman's The Magicians and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, this novel is a multilayered, nostalgic love letter to the special kind of magic that forms when friends at a specific age discover a singular obsession. Sara Flannery Murphy's novels are excellent at mixing magic or sci-fi into the emotional lives of her characters, and combined with the rich, deep Arkansas atmosphere of the decaying homes in the Arkansas Ozarks, makes this a singular read that's perfectly suited for the fall season.

Place your holds, and be sure to let us know what you think by posting a review of this novel - or pretty much everything else you get at the Library - in the Web Catalog. See you next time!