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Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Blue Maiden

by Anna Noyes

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 Devil.

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 240
  • Publication Date May 14, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6280-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date May 14, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6281-6
  • US List Price $26.00

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 dark 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.

Tags Literary

Praise for The Blue Maiden:

“What I expected to find upon opening Anna Noyes’ debut novel, The Blue Maiden, was a story of sisters, a story of myths and traditions, a story brimming with nature and mystery. While all this is here within the pages, I found so much more brewing beneath the surface: how we understand one another, what we know to be true versus what we wish to be true, and, perhaps most importantly, what it means to be a woman who has been told what to believe her whole life . . . Within the walls of witchcraft, piety, and the determination to not forget the past, The Blue Maiden takes us to a haunting and hypnotizing island and dares us to explore.”—Madeline Schultz, Chicago Review of Books

“The Blue Maiden pulses with earthy magic . . . Sifting through centuries of island life to reveal a splendid array of women’s heirlooms—tactile and otherwise—[it] is a bewitching novel.”Foreword Reviews, starred

“Bracing . . . Noyes shows with incisive and imagistic prose how the specter of the eerie, ever-changing Blue Maiden hangs over the residents of Berggrund like a pall as the sisters come of age to face horrifying tragedies. Noyes evokes Shirley Jackson in this inspired and memorable gothic tale.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This debut novel churns with the smell of sea-damp wool, day-old bread, and elderflower-scented smoke . . . Noyes’ rich descriptions create a setting that, in all its consuming bleakness, is perfect for a story about the burdens of generational and gendered trauma . . . A twisting narrative of the horrors of patriarchal subordination that will appeal to fans of classic gothic novels.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Backdropped by the aura and lore of the island, Noyes’ captivating debut novel is a vivid journey into womanhood, self-discovery, and the bonds of family.”—Booklist

“Through mysterious and musical prose, Noyes (Goodnight, Beautiful Women) delves into the folklore, paternalism, and superstition that keep women in their place, tied to the unforgiving religious beliefs of the time . . . A captivating Nordic gothic about a search for self.”—Library Journal

“Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Other times, fiction can outrun truth, but when the two blend, as in The Blue Maiden from Anna Noyes, the impact can be doubly resonant . . . Noyes’s prose is lyrical, spare, carefully capturing the space between image and intention . . . The combination of what happened all those years ago, blended with what Noyes imagines, is bewitching.”—Petoskey News-Review

“Captivating . . . A (literally) spellbinding Gothic tale of generational trauma with a feminist resonance that will delight readers of Shirley Jackson and Nordic historical fiction.”—Center for Fiction

“This perfect book stands all on its own. It is so finely crafted, every word is essential, incantatory. Terrifying, but real. I loved it so much.”—Jenny Slate, author of Little Weirds

“Anna Noyes writes like a witch. The Blue Maiden is a shimmering spell of a novel: mesmerizing, beautiful, and alive with pain, wonder, rage and love. The misty island followed me into my dreams and the sisters stayed with me long after I closed the cover. Simply stunning.”—Emma Törzs, author of Ink Blood Sister Scribe

“A breathtaking story of sisterhood and secrets that gripped me from page one. Beata and Ulrika are magnetic, and their coming-of-age on wild Berggrund Island is a tale unlike any other, full of astonishing twists. The Blue Maiden is a knockout by a writer at the height of her exquisite powers.”—Julie Buntin, author of Marlena

“This extraordinary novel turned me ravenous; I read in rapture, in awe. Noyes shows how lore sustains us, just as it stifles, and how the pain we inherit shapes who we become. Every sentence is resplendent, assured; every scene gripping and intimate. An exquisite homage to sisterhood, a treasure, a masterpiece.”—Claire Luchette, author of Agatha of Little Neon

The Blue Maiden contains a radiant mythology, a web of nature, eros, death and birth. It is partly a young girl’s coming of age in the mid-nineteenth century, and partly a treatise of the wildness in women. There are witch trials, poisons, ghostly islands, superstitious lore, madness and suffering. But it’s Anna Noyes’s absolutely dazzling prose, each sentence wrought like iron, that gives this novel a stunning pathos and depth far beyond a gothic fairy tale. The Blue Maiden haunted me long after I put it down.”—Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter

“A spectacular novel of sisterly devotion and the sacred bonds formed of loss and secrecy. What a gift Noyes has bequeathed to us, her readers, and to the sub-genre of modern witcherature. Stole the sleep from my eyes until the early hours. It is such a great book and I cannot wait for people to discover it. Such skill and technique, and a *lot* of story in this slender volume. Pure sorcery, I don’t know how she did this. Impressive!”—Chịkọdịlị Emelụmadụ, author of Dazzling

Praise for Goodnight, Beautiful Women:

“Assured and atmospheric, tender and melancholy, these stories of women adrift linger in the mind like music. I love them.”—Karen Thompson Walker

“Noyes’ achievement here is nothing less than a high-wire act: precise, fearless, breathtaking. She casts an unwavering gaze on the nature of frailty and desire, offering up gem after gem in this sensuous and startling debut.”—Téa Obreht

“With terrible grace, these stories bring to light the peril hidden within the mundane, and cast their enthralling shadow on characters that ache like you yourself have ached at your most private moments. Anna Noyes is a revelation.”—Alexandra Kleeman

“Lucid, sensual . . . If the fiction of Stephen King and Alice Munro had a literary love child, it might look like this: luminous domestic moments married to a pervasive sense of threat . . . Noyes is a master of disturbing juxtapositions that interpolate childhood games with sexuality, suggesting something dangerous in both . . . appealingly frank and astute . . . Noyes’s prose is admirably restrained, and the real drama remains that of character, the mystery we are to ourselves.”Washington Post

“An improbable channeling of Flannery O’Connor on the one hand and Elizabeth Strout on the other . . . Noyes might be staking out a Northeastern Gothic genre.”Down East Magazine

“Artful . . . [the stories] consistently sparkle with expressive detail . . . with sympathy and skill . . . Noyes’s knack for lucid prose includes providing her characters with simple language that nevertheless grasps an understanding of complex human dynamics.”New York Times Book Review

“Set largely in coastal Maine, Anna Noyes’s stunning debut collection concerns girls and women struggling to break away, dealing with burdens like mental illness and neglect that threaten to transform and define them.”Wall Street Journal, “The Season’s Most Exciting Fiction Reads”

“Noyes’ first collection follows women, young and old, grappling with the unmoored moments of their lives . . . The characters in Noyes’ 11 stories do not shy from their imperfections as they search for those fleeting, ambiguous moments of resolution.”Booklist

“Noyes is as sensuous as she is grounded . . . The beauty of her language, with its rhythmic pulls and earthy descriptions are captivating . . . a promising debut from such a young and gifted writer.”Travel + Leisure

“Noyes does not flinch from heavy topics. Her stories are nuanced and unapologetic, revealing the shadow sides of women and girls in all their wild and terrible glory . . . these tender and brutal stories will pierce your core like a hook in the gut, shimmering with raw pain and heartache and the desperate desire to survive. Because despite the darkness in these stories, the women and girls within always discover something about themselves and grow a little bit stronger. They’re sometimes thoroughly lost, maybe irrevocably damaged, and uncertain what to do next, but in Noyes’s talented hands, you’re left with the certainty that these tough and wild and messed-up women are going to figure it out. They’re going to be okay.”The Rumpus

“A debut as rich and quiet as a walk in the dark . . . Noyes does nothing to romanticize rough-and-tumble girlhood. She plunges into it, floats in its muddiness, and emerges to gaze on it without appraisal, like a hiker meditating on a pond.”Huffington Post

“An exemplary debut. [These] are the short stories you use to teach the craft, to exemplify how language can function at its best, its sparsest and sharpest . . . Each of the works is self-contained and a masterpiece in and of itself, but they build—and careful readers will note patterns, resonance. Noyes’ tone shifts subtly between her narratives and narrators—each piece a unique snapshot, and, as a whole, a vivid and captivating triumph. This collection is rich, ripe for rereading.”Bookreporter

“Noyes is a master . . . Goodnight, Beautiful Women glimmers.”Portland Press Herald

“I read Goodnight, Beautiful Women in one ravenous sitting. Every one of these stories has a moment of subtle, delicious heartbreak (sometimes driving the story, sometimes in the periphery). With exceptional delicacy and grace, Noyes cracks opens the most ordinary moments and offers us their painful core. Often I found myself baffled that such simple details (a child’s fingers beneath a door, the ache of a missing tooth during first sex, the smell of a banished stepfather’s jacket) can contain so much. And yet she doesn’t posture or try too hard. She simply has an instinct for what might be remembered later, when the importance of an event finally reveals itself. Noyes’s prose is precise, skillful, and full of raw emotion. It’s some of the most elegant writing I’ve come across recently.”—Dina Nayeri

“Seductive, smart, and erotic, Anna Noyes’ stories evoke with beautiful clarity love and sexual awakening. She is a most exciting discovery.”—Lily King

“The thing us, some literature has personality. It shows a human being wrote it, not a machine. It is the one voice, the one soul, the real live touch of a singular hand. That is mastery and it is Anna Noyes.”—Carolyn Chute

“Silky, lucid . . . fluid, raw, and strikingly original.”Publishers Weekly

“In stories both hypnotic and precise, Goodnight, Beautiful Women immerses us in a Maine unseen by ‘summer people’—an uneasily beautiful place of cloistered towns where ‘you can’t keep anything to yourself.’ These stories shine with prismatic, perfectly rendered settings, but more brilliant still is the delicacy with which Noyes unspools the inner lives of her characters. Here are young women haunted by long-ago lies and shameful betrayals, whose pasts are kept achingly close to the surface by hometowns that will neither forget nor forgive. This feels like no debut at all, but a voice fully formed.”—Casey Walker

“Anna Noyes has the gift. Her sentences sing with a gentle perfection, almost as if to themselves, and her characters seem to enter the page cradling years of experience inside them. It is a joy—and the sweetest kind of heartache—to watch her making her swift way story by story to their hearts.”—Kevin Brockmeier

“This is an extraordinary book of stories. Many of the characters are anchored to coastal Maine, but a particular quality of wildness animates nearly all of them. The stories are energetic, often mysterious, and beautifully written, and they will stay in your memory long after you finish the book.”—Charles Baxter

“A mesmerizing collection of stories by one of America’s most exciting young writers, Goodnight, Beautiful Women moves us along and around the coast of Maine and into the intimate lives of its inhabitants. These pages are full of moments that are wrenching, funny, and lit by a deeply sensuous attention to the small betrayals and sacrifices our dreams leave in their wake. Tender yet unsentimental, unflinchingly bold but full of beauty, Anna Noyes’ debut collection lingers in the mind well beyond its final paragraph. A book to fall in love with.”—Jonathan Lee

“Noyes writes convincingly about the landscape . . . and the working class . . . Though the stories, told from various points of view, contain threats of violence from rapists and molesters, the greatest menace comes from the harm the young female protagonists seem capable of bringing on themselves . . . [Noyes is] a writer who values nuance over tidy endings. These flawed female characters struggle to survive against threats both external and internal in this well-written debut.”Kirkus Reviews