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Over the past 15 years, Lauren Groff has written about a dead lake monster, a 12th-century mystic, a utopian commune, and more. Now, with her fifth novel, the three-time finalist for the National Book Award is focused on a servant girl in the early 17th century who finds herself lost in the wild. In the dead of night, and the dead of winter, “the girl,” as she is known, escapes a colonial settlement in Virginia. While she has been warned of the monsters, both real and imagined, that live outside the colony’s walls, she faces more immediate threats from within them. Desperate to live, the girl goes to great lengths—roasting baby squirrels, stealing the boots of a dead man—to survive on her own. What The Vaster Wilds makes clear is that even in an inhospitable world, no one is ever truly alone. —Shannon Carlin

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