The Wonder State

Brilliance Audio. Jul. 2023. 12:16 hrs. ISBN 9798400131523. $42.99. THRILLER
Utilizing two timelines and a healthy dose of genre-blending and magical realism, Murphy’s (Girl One) latest delves into the connections among high school friends in a small town. In 1999, six teenagers grow close and make promises to one another as they research an obscure woman architect who infused magical elements into the houses she built in their Arkansas community. The friends spend months breaking into properties to discover the architect’s secrets, including descriptions of a house where no one can lie and another where everyone is lucky. The end goal is finding the portal house, where perhaps the architect herself disappeared. In 2015, the friends return to Eternal Springs to investigate what happened to Brandi, the only friend who didn’t move away after graduation. Did she finally find and escape into the portal house? Or is something more sinister at play? Narrator Jesse Vilinsky adeptly manages a range of Ozarkian accents (some more realistic than others) and vocally distinguishes class levels; she even ages the more mature voices in the modern timeline.
VERDICT Recommend to fans of speculative mysteries and coming-of-age tales, as well as to readers of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen.
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