The Forbidden Territory of A Terrifying Woman

A Novel

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Book Description

Fates and Furies meets Melancholia in this ominous and absorbing debut novel about marriage and motherhood in a time of ecological collapse, as mothers around the world begin to mysteriously vanish from their homes

Ada—a woman from Montreal living reluctantly in Michigan—vanishes from her bed one night while her husband Danny is asleep beside her, her young son, Gilles, in the next room. Desperate to locate Ada before Gilles understands what has happened, Danny begins a search. But the feds are already involved: across the country and around the world, mothers are vanishing from their homes.

Where did Ada go? What has she gone through? And how does the mystery relate to the forest that she seemed magnetically drawn to?

Confronting the role of motherhood and the meaning of home in the wreckage of capitalism and climate change, The Forbidden Territory of a Terrifying Woman is that rare, dazzling debut that is both thrilling and profound. It is a mystery, a play on myths of metamorphosis, and above all, a story of love—between husband and wife, mother and child—deeply troubled by the future we face.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

Finalist for the Midland Authors Award
Booklist, A Top Ten First Novel of the Year


"A gorgeous novel about how intimately acquainted one becomes with fear and love after motherhood, and how to live with the two forces, which are terrifying in their own ways. The writing, exquisite and vivid, pulls you close and demonstrates how the vast wilderness of what we live through—capitalistic pressure, social rupture, ecological collapse—necessitates an equally fierce intimacy with the people we love.” —Jenny Xie, Vanity Fair

"[A] meditative climate-crisis thriller . . . It is not a spoiler to say that capitalism is running amuck, and through Ada’s disappearance, Lynch’s sharp eye takes us takes us into dark territories of metamorphosis that seem otherworldly but are, terrifyingly, here." —Robert Sullivan, Vogue

"An eerie and accomplished work of speculative fiction . . . With a composer’s precision, Lynch plays the intimate registers of everyday family life against the seductive music of the natural world . . . Placing motherhood at its centre, this remarkable book addresses the most profound—and terrifying—issues of our time with imagination, insight, and compassion." —Gillian MacKay, Literary Review of Canada

"In imagining what would happen if mothers went missing en masse, Forbidden Territory feels entirely fresh." —Irene Katz Connelly, Electric Literature

"Lynch’s magical debut constructs a dreamlike dystopia populated by women at odds with both Mother Nature and their own interior senses, wary of the easy ways society can erase them." —Booklist (starred review)

"[A] spectacular debut . . . Writing in tight, precise prose, Lynch weaves environmental disaster, feminist theory, and classical myth into a mesmerizing tale. Lovers of Margaret Atwood and Lauren Groff will be among the many enthralled." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A nuanced contemplation of marriage, motherhood, and the anxieties of modern life . . . Lynch writes evocatively and insightfully about the divine feminine, nature’s gravitational pull, and her characters’ struggles with alienation and fear. At once visceral and ephemeral." —Kirkus Reviews

"Bold and brilliant. The Forbidden Territory of a Terrifying Woman is a novel that takes on the uncertainty of our present moment. Molly Lynch’s voice is fearless as she gives us a story that is both a page-turner and radical new mythology for our time." —Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker

"How can women bear America? The only answer, I think, is for them all to leave. This wise, complex and fascinating novel touches on that possibility." —Lucy Ellmann, author of Ducks, Newburyport

"Molly Lynch's hypnotic debut, in its intensity and wry wisdom, evokes the early feminist novels of Margaret Atwood. Lynch is the kind of writer who can, with the turn of a phrase, set the ordinary thrumming with almost unbearable tension. She reminds us that in our current age, all of our placid hours, our every affection—most especially for our children—can be upended by dread. A writer to watch, and to celebrate." —Alice McDermott, author of The Ninth Hour

"The ontological strangeness of planetary transition comes home in this meticulous and disturbing novel of suburban eco-horror. Molly Lynch's The Forbidden Territory of a Terrifying Woman captures in exquisite detail the everyday monstrosity of climate change, the uncanny way our collective predicament possesses us, at once cause and effect, inside and outside, nature and self. Intimate, unmooring, brilliantly rendered, and deeply spooky, this novel will haunt you long after you put it down." —Roy Scranton, author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene