The Wilderness of Girls

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Pub Date Jun 11 2024 | Archive Date Jun 18 2024
Zando | Zando Young Readers

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An unflinching YA debut about a troubled teen who discovers a pack of feral girls in the woods and is swept up in the ensuing mystery: Are the Wild Girls of Happy Valley lost princesses from a faraway land, as they believe, or are they brainwashed victims of a deranged kidnapper?

In her ambitious debut perfect for fans of Sadie and The Hazel Wood, Madeline Claire Franklin crafts a gripping exploration of how the world teaches young girls to cage their wildness—and what happens when they claw themselves free.

After being placed in foster care, Rhi is hungry for a fresh start and begins working at the Happy Valley Wildlife Preserve. While in the woods, she stumbles upon a surreal sight: a pack of wolves guarding four feral and majestic girls. After Rhi gains their trust, they reveal that they’re princesses from another land, raised by a magical prophet they call Mother—and they're convinced Rhi is their lost fifth sister.

Unsure what to believe, Rhi ushers the girls to civilization, where they’re met with societal uproar and scrutiny, dubbed by the ravenous media and true crime junkies as “The Wild Girls of Happy Valley.” Desperate to return to their kingdom, the girls look to Rhi for help. Rhi knows the girls are deluded, but at the same time she’s drawn in by their boldness and authenticity—traits she is afraid she has lost within herself. And when Rhi witnesses strange phenomena she can’t quite explain, the line between fantasy and reality grows blurry.

As the hunt for answers intensifies, Rhi must make a decision that will change the course of her lives and the lives of her Wild Girls forever.

An unflinching YA debut about a troubled teen who discovers a pack of feral girls in the woods and is swept up in the ensuing mystery: Are the Wild Girls of Happy Valley lost princesses from a...

Marketing Plan

Early Outreach

  • Early bound manuscript mailing to booksellers for pre-pub blurbs
  • Personalized Indie Next mailing to independent booksellers who love YA thrillers
  • Cover reveal with influencer partners prompting readers to "Join the Wild Girls of Happy Valley"

Trade & Retailer

  • Extensive early outreach and mailings to secure account picks and book club features
  • Galley promotions at key bookseller and librarian conferences including regional shows NVNR, NEIBA, MPIBA, Winter Institute and TLA and ALA Annual
  • Trade review, regional trade association, and educator and librarian advertising
  • NetGalley and Edelweiss Promotions
  • Zando Trade newsletter spotlight, and indie bookstore pre-order campaign, pitching Talking Leaves in Buffalo

Media & Events

  • National and regional media outreach to TV, radio, podcast, print, and online venues targeting genre, queer, Jewish, true crime, and disabled media outlets pitching for interviews and features
  • Pitch for "most anticipated" lists to pop culture, general interest, literary, genre, and feminist outlets including coverage in Best Books of the Year roundups, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Pride Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, holiday gifting, etc
  • Pitch for appearances at trade conferences NTTBF (March), TLA (April), and festivals YALLFest (Nov)
  • Author appearances virtual/in-person talks at bookstores, schools, libraries, festivals, and cultural institutions


  • Branded Happy valley merch included in pre-order promotions, mailings, and at consumer conferences
  • Big mouth mailings to popular YA and Thriller writers such as Nova Ren Suma, Angeline Boulley, and Alaina Urquhart
  • Social strategy with creative content pulling from the themes in the book
  • Tik Tok campaign partnering with BookTok creators that leans into the true crime angle targeting fans of Courtney Summers and Trang Thanh Tran
  • Book Club Outreach including a downloadable discussion guide
  • ZYR Fall Thrillers Campaign launching Fall 2024 featuring The Wilderness of Girls and The Dark We Know that will include group ads, prize pack giveaway, and a live virtual event between the two authors


  • Digital ads on Fantasy, Thriller, and book sites
  • Podcast advertising
  • YouTube, TikTok, and Meta advertising
  • Goodreads campaign
  • Holiday Gift Guides

Early Outreach

  • Early bound manuscript mailing to booksellers for pre-pub blurbs
  • Personalized Indie Next mailing to independent booksellers who love YA thrillers
  • Cover reveal with influencer partners...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781638931003
PRICE $19.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 37 members

Featured Reviews

This story was everything I hoped for and more! It ripped apart my soul and pieced the jagged edges back together. Finished, but not quite whole.

This book is for every girl who dreamed of running away to a fairytale world. Who dreamed of learning to slay dragons because the monsters in her life (visible and invisible) are all too real.

I loved everything about it, the multiple perspectives, the memoir excerpts, the character development, and the lyrical almost ethereal quality of the narrative.

The Wilderness of Girls is sheer genius, remarkably written, and an absolutely phenomenal debut.

Thank you to Netgalley and Zando Young Readers for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you Netgalley for the ARC!

"The Wilderness of Girls" by Madeline Claire Franklin is a well-written and engaging novel that blends fantasy and reality to create a narrative that is nothing short of phenomenal. Before I get into the specifics of the book, I do want to provide a trigger warning for cannibalism (described in detail) as well as SA and suicide.

The book resonates with every person who has dreamed of escaping to a fairytale world, battling real-life monsters. The multiple perspectives, memoir excerpts, character development, and the lyrical quality of the narrative contribute to storytelling. While the shifts between POVs could be a bit disorienting at times in the beginning of the novel before the different characters’ names and personalities are established, I really enjoyed experiencing the perspectives of many of the characters, especially the wild girls. The book's brilliance is underscored by its remarkably written prose, marking Madeline Claire Franklin as an author to watch.

The highlights of this book for me revolve around the main character, Rhi, who is torn between belief and skepticism, becomes entangled in the authenticity and sisterhood of the wild girls. Throughout the entire book, both the reader and Rhi are faced with the question: “is the magic and other world real?” I will say that the answer is found at the end of the book, and I found it perfect in wrapping up the story of Rhi and the other girls.

The book is full of healing and has a focus on mental health and sisterhood. If you find yourself connecting with Rhi, then maybe this book can help heal something in you. This is both a heartbreaking and empowering novel filled with the inner strength of women and feminism.

Madeline Claire Franklin's debut is a triumph, showcasing her storytelling prowess and leaving an indelible mark on readers. This is a must-read for those who seek stories that resonate for quite awhile after finishing the book.

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A poignant, beautiful story of six girls that is teeming with sisterhood, heart and feral, angry energy.

The Wilderness of Girls follows Rhi, a teenager desperate for a fresh start with her uncle working at the Happy Valley Wildlife Preserve. When she goes into the woods she finds a pack of wolves guarding four feral, majestic girls. Rhi gains their trust and they claim they’re princesses from another land, raised by a magical prophet to save their magical world. And as a great shock to Rhi, they believe she’s their lost fifth sister. Journalists, true crime fans, and everyone is fascinated with the story of the girls and everyone is desperate to know the truth. Rhi bonds with the girls and questions if they’re truly telling the truth or deluded. She hunts for the truth along with the wild girls and secrets and twists are revealed that impact each girl greatly.

The Wilderness of Girls beautifully toes a line of fantasy or reality with an impeccable mystery and truly lovely characters. This novel encapsulates so much of how modern society views women and I absolutely adored watching the girls turn it all on its head. I loved Rhi and was so drawn in by her story and the heavy past weighing her down. The girls were so intriguing to read about as they tried to assimilate into society and I was so enraptured to read more. My heart broke with so many scenes but was stitched up together by the end.

The author crafted a truly beautiful story of sisterhood, mental health, and support with such a well done hook. I was honestly unsure where the novel would go even to the very end. I would highly recommend picking this book up. It’s gorgeous and captivating and really unique.

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I loved the ethereal narrative of this book. Everything felt so magical and engrossing.

The Wilderness of Girls is such a well written book with fantastical elements.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC.

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Sweet goodness this one was absolutely amazing !!!!! i adored this one so much. there was so many good factors, such a lyrical narrative. thanks for the ARC zando

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WOW. Every once in a while there is a book that just resonates with your heart and soul. This book is it. A beautifully sad, hopeful, and raw book. I loved everything about it.

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Who doesn't want to read about feral girls entering society? I was pulled into the storyline immediately and couldn't wait to see how it played out. The writing was fantastic.

Kindly received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Wilderness of Girls is an incredibly thought-provoking YA book. Our main character Eden/Rhi has gone through a lot before the beginning of the book, and while for the first half or so of the book, I struggled a little bit to connect with her, I really liked her by the end of the book. I liked all of the Wild Girls, too, especially Sunder. One think I really appreciated about this story, which I typically have disliked in previous books I've read, was the way that not everything was perfectly wrapped at the end. There are still some questions that are left unanswered, but I think that only made the story and what all five of the girls were going through that much more realistic.

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First and foremost, this book ripped my heart out and gave me an emotional hangover. This was a fantastic novel, full of magic, trauma, found family, healing, and love. These girls fighting not to be put in the box and fighting to get out of the box that society tries to put them in was beautifully written. Find yourself a pack, love your pack and let your pack take care of you when you need it! If you need a book that will resonate with you for a long time, this one might be perfect.

Make sure you check the trigger warnings before you dive in to this one.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC! I really enjoyed this book and will be adding it to our library's teen section when published. This was lyrical and haunting, and I really loved Rhi's story. I think the teens in my community will love this one!

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*I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the free book.*

TW for: pedophilia, sexual abuse, child abuse, cannibalism,...

"The Wilderness of Girls" is quite the wild ride. It's about Eden who after having been taken to live with her uncle takes on the name Rhi(annon), finds a bunch of girls in the forest when she's helping her uncle out. The girls, four of them, seem to have lived in a castle in a forest all their lives, protected (?) by a man they call Mother. Rhi's own traumatic past and her very nature make the girls trust her and think that she's the promised fifth princess of their realm to which they must return.

But as fantastical as this sounds, not everything adds up, the girls of various ages and ethnicities find that they cannot cope with the modern world. Their strong kinship starts to crumble. One of them finds out that she has a twin sister and that she had been stolen as an infant. The sisters begin to drift apart. Rhi too finds that she cannot run from her past forever and fleeing to a magical kingdom might not solve her problems after all.

This novel was extremely interesting and kept me at the tip of my toes, really. I didn't really know what to think, wasn't sure what was real and what was not. But the way the novel focussed on trauma and abuse suffered as a child and teen was quite well done albeit brief overall. The reader can sense that something is off with Rhi but she herself doesn't even allow herself to think about it for the majority of the book. She's also too caught up in the chaos, publicity, interest and emotional turmoil that is being caused by the girls showing up in the forest at the edge of town. I also liked that her uncle was just a really good guy, overall, how refreshing. And some queer rep too but not overly much.

I really enjoyed this book, it was so very wild, almost like a dream in parts.

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When Eden finds 4 wild girls that live with wolves, she finds a place where she finally fits.
In this book you will follow her struggles against herself and wondering if she did the right thing by taking the girls out of the wild.

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I read this mostly because it filled a prompt for the 52 Book Club reading challenge, but I ended up really enjoying it! I thought the characters were strong, and I really liked the perspective shift that the wild girls experienced when they entered the big wide world with the internet and body standards and all the other things that come with not living feral in the woods. I liked all the character arcs and I liked how not everything was explained at the end, because not everything needs to be! Totally did a spit-take at the transcription of the Subway Surfer-in-the-background commentary video, I was not expecting that but it was so real.

Strong 4/5 stars will recommend!

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An engaging story with a mix of fantasy, trauma, and messages about societies impact on women. A good book and difficult to describe. Thank you tom#NetGalley and the publisher for a DRC.

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I can't read this PDF file on my kindle...which means I can't read it. But what I made out of the first chapter - with a lot of squinting - was great, and I look forward to reading the finished copy!

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As soon as I read the synopsis I immediately got Yellowjackets vibes and knew I had to read this book, and it certainly did not disappoint

Like Yellowjackets, it's not completely clear if the wilderness magic is real or not. Logic says it shouldn't be, but there are things that are hard to explain as pure coincidence. At one point I worried that this book would go info full fantasy, but I liked that it kept the lines blurred because in the end it doesn't matter if the magic is real or not, what matters is the very real bond between the girls and what they decide to make of their lives

I liked that we got to see each main character's perspective and the different ways they navigated this strange new world. Towards the start of the book I found them hard to tell apart but as it went on they each developed a more distinctive identity as they forged their new path, while still keeping their close connection

I definitely recommend this book, and look forward to checking out the author's future work

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To say I'm floored would be the understatement of the century. Madeline Claire Franklin's THE WILDERNESS OF GIRLS is fierce and feral and lyrical and utterly, utterly raw in the best possible way.

First book of the year to make me cry.

10/10 one of my favourite YA thrillers ever.

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