Reviews & Comments:


Stunning, dark and gorgeous....Ricihly imagined and beautifully written. -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A harrowing exploration of desire and obsession."-- #1 New York Times bestselling author CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE

Finalist, Adult Fiction, National Press Women, 2016 Communications Contest

One of Entertainment Weekly's "10 Great Summer Thrillers" of 2015


In the winter of 1966, Katherine Reid moves to an isolated cabin deep in Georgia's Appalachian Mountains. There, with little more than a sleeping bag, a tin plate, and a loaded gun, she plans to spend her time in peaceful solitude. Gradually she realizes she is not alone there. Someone else lives in the forest, and observes her every move.

Twenty-year-old Danny, trained as a reconnaisance sniper in Vietnam, lives not far from Katherine's cabin, in a once-grand mansion he has dubbed "Gatsby's house." Haunted by war and enclosed by walls of moldering books, he becomes fixated on Katherine. When these two souls collide, the passion that ignites between them quickly becomes all-consuming--and increasingly dangerous.

o"An extraordinary novel filled with both darkness and light"-- PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author RON RASH

o"Heartbreaking, bold, relentless, and intensely erotic." -- New York Times bestselling author JOSHILYN JACKSON

o"In Wilderness is altogether spectacular." -- #1 New York Times bestselling author LEE CHILD


"Thomas writes with richness, describing the natural world as viscerally as she does the interior lives of these two intense characters. The wilderness around them is shaped by their perceptions, even as it holds out the promise of healing. VERDICT: Recommended for readers who also like the raw, honest writing of Amy Bloom or Amanda Coplin." -- Library Journal

"Thomas has written a gripping novel powered by genuine suspense and driven forward by two characters whose lives readers cannot look away from. A memoriable story of an isolated, beautiful place and of two people trying to make sense of the world they have chosen to live in." -- Booklist

"Thomas writes hauntingly of obsession and survival in this dark, unusual love story....As she moves her characters through the seasons of 1966, 1967, and 1968, she offers a deep and unforgettable look at how tragedy and madness can shape lives. Written from the points of veiw of the two suffering people, the story takes on an almost surreal, lyrical quality. Riveting and raw." -- Publishers Weekly

Publishing is a highly competitive business and many fine books, beloved by eager editors,  never find a home. As a "dark" book that didn't clearly fit into an existing genre, In Wilderness had at least two strikes against it. Below are excerpts from some of the more than 25 email rejections it received before finding a home with editor Kate Miciak at Random House.

  • "Creative and haunting." – Little, Brown
  • "Fascinating, dangerous and well-drawn." – Norton
  • "A powerful read." – Little, Brown, UK
  • "Loved it, couldn't put it down." – Simon and Schuster
  • "A beautifully written novel." – Viking
  • "A stunningly good writer." – Bloomsbury
  • "I was riveted, completely enclosed in the world she created." – HarperCollins
  • "Incredibly original. Very erotic." – Penguin
  • "What a rollercoaster of a ride!" – Grove/Atlantic
  • "Exquisitely evoked, complex and beautiful. This book is wonderful." – Henry Holt

Finally, from the editor who took it, came a message of acceptance humbling in its praise: 

"This novel was everything you promised—gloriously poetic, stunningly dark, breathtakingly original. LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR meets THE ORCHARDIST meets COLD MOUNTAIN meets Susan Minot's EVENING meets D.H. Lawrence's WOMEN IN LOVE, with a little of THE THINGS THEY CARRIED thrown in, in the event the reader isn't knocked breathless enough already...."

Valentine's day, 1967

Danny should leave before the snow starts. Should not scuttle toward her cabin, pick a corner she can't see from any window. Should not crouch there, sit and straddle it, shold not slide in close enough to touch the walls, then closer, nor stretch out his arms, embrace the two sides of the house, nor lay his cheek against its smooth, cold stones.
       Should not imagine her a foot away, sleeping where he used to sleep.
       There's a chink in the mortar, level with his face, where he can hear her breathe. He wishes he could suck it in, her breath so close like that, presses his ear hard against the crumbling mortar. Hey, whore, Dead Lady, you want a lullaby? I'll sing you one inside my mind. Here goes. Hushabye, don't you cry, go to sleep my little baby. Bees and butterflies are picking out your eyes; oh, you poor, poor little baby.
       Those are all the words he can recall of what his Memaw used to sing. He loops them round and round inside his head, while his fingers and his thighs grow numb gripping the stones and a barred owl hoots from somewhere way back in the pines. He hears the wind and his own breathing and the Dead Lady's, stays there a long time.

The owl is gone. As long as there was an owl, there likely were no larger animals around to frighten it. Katherine scrunches farther down inside her sleeping bag, maneuvers it so deep into a corner that her head nearly touches the cabin's cold stone wall. Perhaps sheltered in this manner she can sleep. And she must sleep; if she can't she will surely die even sooner than she fears. She tries to relax, lies very still. Yet in this stillness she becomes aware of a new sound. Hears it unmistakably, almost feels it. A faint, rhythmic rustling, as of something breathing very near.
       An echo of her own breath bounced back to her off the wall. That's all it is, that's what it has to be. She can prove it, hold her breath and make the phantom breathing stop.
       Only it doesn't stop. Something that isn't her keeps breathing right beside her, separated only by a wall.
       She lies frozen, listens to the sighing of her pulsing blood, afraid to move even her eyes. Tries to align her breathing perfectly to this faint second breath that is the least whistle of air passing through a chink between two stones.
       In. Out. In. Out. Soothing. Terrifying. She places her palm against the cold, rough wall. Feels on her skin a spot of moist, illusive warmth, a vibration so slight it must be her imagination.
       Jerks her hand away, cries out.
       "Please, God, please! Oh, please don't let me die!"
       The breath that is not her breath stops.
       And then begins again. Longer, slower, deeper.
       Inside this new breath, her breath—exhausted, hopeless—finds a resting place. And, finally, she sleeps.


BOOK GROUP LEADERS -- Planning a program on In Wilderness ? Contact author Diane Thomas through this website for a FREE SPEAKERPHONE CHAT!! She'll discuss the book with your group and answer questions. If you're interested, email her through this website.