A luminous, hypnotic story of youth, sex, and power that tells of two young women who find themselves ostracized from the same small New England community for the same reasons--though they are separated by 150 years.
Henrietta and Jane are fifteen and twelve, growing up in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Their mother is a painter, lost in her art, their father a cook who's raised them on magical tales about their land. When Henrietta becomes obsessed with a boy from town, Jane takes to trailing the young couple, spying on their trysts--until one night, Henrietta vanishes into the woods. Elspeth and Claire are sisters separated by an ocean--Elspeth's pregnancy at seventeen meant she was quickly married and sent to America to avoid certain shame. But when she begins ingratiating herself to the town's wealthy mill owner, a series of wrenching and violent events unfold, culminating in her disappearance. As Jane and Claire search in their own times for their missing sisters, they each come across a strange story about a family that is transformed into coyotes. But what does this myth mean? Are their sisters dead, destroyed by men and lust? Or, are they alive and thriving beyond the watchful eyes of their same small town? With echoes of The Scarlet Letter, Abi Maxwell gives us a transporting, layered tale of two women, living generations apart yet connected by place and longing, and condemned for the very same desires.
About the Author
ABI MAXWELL is the author of Lake People. Her fiction has also appeared in McSweeney's. She studied writing at the University of Montana and now lives in New Hampshire, where she grew up, with her husband and son.
"Abi Maxwell has written a lush and luminous gem of a novel: heartbreaking in some moments, heartwarming in others, and always rich with wonder and surprise. The Den is a book with depth and mystery and soul." —Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of The Flight Attendant
"Addictive and delightfully eerie, The Den paints a new portrait of an old subject: the ways we tamp down, hide, control and obscure that oldest of chaotic energies, the original socially disruptive force, female desire." —Rufi Thorpe, author of The Girls from Corona del Mar
"Author Abi Maxwell provides readers with plots that center on women's behaviors, specifically, how the desire for love will bring young women into conflict with their communities. Hester Prynne would have felt right at home in a town where women's yearnings are interpreted as sins in need of punishment."—Olivia Kiernan, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A tangle of secrets and sisterhood; a chorus of longing and desire. Maxwell transcends time and place in this tale of women’s power and choices, as her sisters journey to claim themselves, understand each other, and find their truest homes." —Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, author of Shadow Child
"Abi Maxwell's The Den braids and weaves history with now, always through the lenses of wide-eyed longing and rebellion and desire in this story of sisters. The beautiful and dangerous landscapes of New England forest are backdrop for their acts of revolution and independence to survive this world." —Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here "A provocative and absorbing coming of age novel." —Isabelle Broom, Woman and Home
"[An] intricate story of shame and longing." —Shelf Awareness
"Tantalizing… Maxwell has written a deeply satisfying, haunting work of literary fiction. Driven by characters who are uniformly engaging and beautifully realized, it is not to be missed." —Michael Cart, Booklist (Starred)