Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell
A Novel

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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.

About Mary Stewart Atwell

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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.
Published October 16, 2012 by Scribner. 290 pages
Genres: Horror, Young Adult, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Wild Girls

Kirkus Reviews

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In the dying Appalachian town of Swan River, Kate Riordan attends the rather elite Academy for Girls.

Sep 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Girls: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Atwell’s debut novel unfolds in the Appalachian town of Swan River, 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.

Aug 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Girls: A Novel

The Roanoke Times

(I have met Atwell, a Hollins graduate, but she was not one of my students.) The narrator, Kate Riordan, alerting us that she is telling her story from the more seasoned perspective of adulthood, says that her hometown “could have been known for murder the way Chicago is known for pizza, Roswell...

Oct 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Girls: A Novel

Fiction Writers Review

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Nov 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Girls: A Novel

Fiction Writers Review

in literature, and over the last several years it’s been [...] Blog (339) Anne Stameshkin (299) Celeste Ng (264) writers on writing (255) novel (219) Review (176) short stories (171) debut novel (156) Book of the Week (153) craft (134) Lee Thomas (117) lit and tech (111)...

Nov 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Girls: A Novel

Fiction Writers Review

We’re particularly pleased to feature Mary Stewart Atwell’s debut novel Wild Girls as our current Book of the Week, because Atwell is one of our contributors.

Oct 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Girls: A Novel

Southern Lit Review

Swan River, nestled in the Appalachian valley, is known for its poverty, its exclusive all-girl academy, and its wild girls who occasionally go on murderous rampages.

Dec 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Girls: A Novel

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