The Wonder State

Coming July 18 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.

Featured on the Summer Reading List 2023 – Deep South Magazine

“… Gets its hooks into readers from the opening chapter and doesn’t let go.” – Publishers Weekly

“Magical, moving, and gripping, this is a special book indeed.” – Booklist, starred review

“”Across two timelines, a band of friends explores the secrets of an Arkansas hot springs town… influences of Stephen King, Donna Tartt, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are clear here.” – Kirkus

“The most entertaining escapist book I’ve read for ages, with an ending that had me in tears, The Wonder State is a novel of homecoming that shimmers with magic, love, and above all, the beauty of the ordinary.” – Jennifer Thorne, author of Lute

The Wonder State is a slippery, twisty tale about friendship, power, and belonging. Sara Murphy’s worlds are never quite what they seem–this one in particular is electrifying and scary and utterly thrilling.” – Anton DiSclafani, author of The After Party

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 Thicker Than Water

“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

Featured in Library Journal Trends in Crime Fiction