The Blue Maiden
by Anna Noyes
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Pub Date 14 May 2024 | Archive Date 14 May 2024
Grove Atlantic, Grove Press
From the author of Indie Next Pick and New York Times Editor’s Choice Goodnight, Beautiful Women comes a transportive and chilling debut novel of two sisters growing up on an isolated Northern European island, in the shadow of their late mother and the DevilAnna Noyes’s debut story collection, Goodnight, Beautiful Women, was praised as “artful” by the New York Times and “stunning” by the Wall Street Journal, its rapturous reception marking her as a fearless new literary talent to watch. As the Washington Post puts it, Noyes’s writing feels as if “the fiction of Stephen King and Alice Munro had a literary love child.” The Blue Maiden is her triumphant first novel, a darkly brilliant feat every bit as captivating as her stories.
It’s 1825, four generations after Berggrund Island’s women stood accused of witchcraft under the eye of their priest, now long dead. In his place is Pastor Silas, a widower with two wild young daughters, Beata and Ulrika. The sisters are outcasts: imaginative, oppositional, increasingly obsessed with the lore and legend of the island’s sinister past and their absent mother, whom their father refuses to speak of.
As the girls come of age, and the strictures of the community shift but never wane, their rebellions twist and sharpen. Ever-capable Ulrika shoulders the burden of keeping house, while Bea, alone with unsettling visions and impulses, hungers for companionship and attention.
When an enigmatic outsider arrives at their door, his presence threatens their family bond and unearths—piece by piece—a buried history to shocking ends. All the while Berggrund’s neighboring island the Blue Maiden beckons, storied home of the Witches’ Sabbath and Satan’s realm, its misted shore veiling truths the sisters have spent their lives searching for. A Nordic Gothic laced with the horrors of life in a patriarchy both hostile to and reliant on its women, The Blue Maiden is a starkly beautiful depiction of lost lineage and resilience.