Good girls don’t talk back. Good girls don’t cry. Good girls don’t scream.
Sadie Burke has been forced to be a good girl her entire life. As a banshee, she’s the bottom of the ladder when it comes to the supernatural hierarchy. Weak. Condemned. Powerless.
Silent. That’s what she and her six sisters have been told their entire lives, since their species was first banished from Ireland. Yet when a figure from her childhood unexpectedly arrives on the scene, Sadie finds it harder than ever to toe the line.
Texas Contos is the son of their greatest oppressor. He’s also someone she’s inexplicably drawn to, and as they grow closer, Sadie begins to question what banshees have been told for centuries about their gifts.
But the truth comes at a cost. With Sadie and Tex forced to run for their lives, their journey leads them to new friends, old enemies, and finally to her true voice – one that could shatter the supernatural world forever.
The Wailing Woman is another urban fantasy novel from Australian author Maria Lewis, this time turning our attention to the legend of Banshees — a supernatural creature not very common in fantasy novels.
Maria Lewis’ fifth novel, The Wailing Woman is about Sadie Burke and her voice, literally. When she is a young girl, it is discovered that Sadie Burke’s banshee scream has the ability to hurt — maybe even kill — others and so her voice is taken from her. She lives her life as a mute. The Wailing Woman is about Sadie reclaiming her voice and her identity, and punishing those who took it away from her as a child.
The Wailing Woman expands on the supernatural and urban fantasy worlds of Maria Lewis’ previous novels, but you don’t need to have read any of them to be able to follow this — The Wailing Woman is enough of a standalone novel that any reader can pick it up and be swept up in its storyline.
“Tasmanian devil shifters had been running a trafficking operation out of Australia for nearly a century now and no matter how many the Praetorian Guard were able to find and stamp out, another always popped up.”
The book is set in Sydney, but moves across a few different international locations, heightening the tension and the pacing and propelling the story forward.
The Wailing Woman switches POV between Sadie and love interest Tex, whose father was responsible for taking away Sadie’s voice. They team up after being separated for 10 years to uncover the truth about Sadie’s capabilities. Tex had been sent away by his father to train as an Askari — like a policeman/guard for the supernatural world — but now that he’s returned he realises the Askari are not as honourable as they make out to be.
Maria Lewis weaves between the supernatural world and the real world with ease and clarity. As a Sydney resident, it was rather fun to read these exciting plot points that were set in and around where I live. The setting is realistic, believable and incredibly engaging.
“Sadie held up her fingers in an okay symbol, not offended in the slightest. In truth, it was just nice to meet someone who didn’t know who she was or anything about her ‘condition’. It made her feel…regular, almost.”
A strong theme in the book is the oppression of women by men, and more specifically, how men use their power and their dominance to silence women and make them feel like they can’t use their voice to speak out against those who are evil.
The writing is incredibly strong throughout the novel. Maria Lewis is skilled at building intrigue and writing humour; she’s fantastic at writing romance and sexual tension, and all of the characters in The Wailing Woman are three-dimensional and interesting to read.
Side note: there was a pesky little thing that bothered me in the book — the pop culture references within the dialogue were quite corny.
“We gotta protect this pregnancy like a Jenner sister.”
“Take that, Ariana Grande’s whistle register.”
Despite this, which only happens a few times in the novel, I enjoyed The Wailing Woman. Fast-paced, enthralling, exciting and just a great time. I sincerely hope there’s a sequel, because there were a few things left unsaid and I’d love to keep exploring the world of the banshees. I’d recommend this to readers of fantasy, horror, thriller and young adult novels.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Wailing Woman
Hachette Book Publishers