The Wonder State

Coming July 2023 from MCD/FSG

Jay Carr returns to her hometown of Eternal Springs, Arkansas, for the first time in fifteen years. She’s been summoned by a two-word letter from her estranged best friend: you promised. When she arrives, she learns she’s not the only one: other members of the Mystery Gang are converging on the Ozarks town where they left their darkest secrets as teenagers.

The only person who isn’t present? Brandi Addams, the only one who stayed behind. She’s vanished in an eerie echo of the tragedy that drove the friends apart.

The five thirty-somethings – including aspiring artist Jay, the wealthy, enigmatic twins Max and Hilma, brainy Charlie, and golden boy Iggy – must face the strange magic they left behind. Nestled among the streets and forests of Eternal Springs are eight mysterious houses, each one holding a different power. One forces anyone who enters to tell the truth; another bestows people with temporary and powerful luck. And one mythical house is rumored to lead to another world entirely.

As teenagers, the six misfit friends broke into abandoned houses on a secret quest to find every last house, until a tragedy pushed them apart on the eve of high school graduation. Now, as the magical influence of the houses forces painful secrets ever closer to the surface, the five reunited friends wonder if Brandi brought them back to Eternal Springs for a reunion .. or for revenge.

THE WONDER STATE is a startling feat of—and feast for—the imagination, filled with intoxicating mysteries, devastating secrets, and prose as beautiful and magical as the story itself. Its setting is both deeply familiar and uniquely fantastical, and it’s the atmospheric page-turner of my dreams.”– Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot

“Reading this novel was like finding a haunted passageway through the fiercest heart of the Ozarks. It’s full of creepy houses, broken promises, and the kind of thorny secrets that bind a small town for generations. Provocative, melodic, and surprising, The Wonder State led me into its sparkling dark and still hasn’t let me go.” – Amy Jo Burns, author of Shiner 

“Sara Flannery Murphy’s THE WONDER STATE is many things: a bittersweet coming-of-age tale, an engrossing portrait of life in the small-town Ozarks, and a brilliant allegory in which childhood longings for permanence and stability take a concrete form. It reminded me of some of the books I’ve loved the longest, including the Narnia Chronicles and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, and yet offers its own unique form of magic. Above all, it speaks to our secret yearnings for a place where the past might be waiting for us to step into it again.” – Polly Stewart, author of The Good Ones