Across a century and against seemingly insurmountable odds, a woman with an astonishing immune system and an equally dramatic determination to survive is held against her will on an abandoned island off of New York City.
Award-Winner of the Cross Genre category of the 2021 International Book Awards.
Excerpt from Chapter One
A distant shriek pierced his eardrums. The sound must have come from one of the black-crowned night herons nesting at North Brother Island’s southern end.
The woman tilted back her head and released water from a camp shower bag; it flowed down her long hair to the top of her calves, where the dirt-caked tub shielded the rest of her from view.
During his stint in the Peace Corps in Africa, not once had he seen a body so mutilated. Nor, in his twenty-eight years on this earth, one so graceful. An impossible combination, yet there she stood.
His heart pulsing, Finn pressed himself against a tree trunk strangled by a mulberry vine. There was something “off” about this place he’d been longing to visit his entire life. He could feel it; an aching brittleness, as if he’d already been reduced to the same decaying state as the bird carcass his boot had crunched in the darkness an hour earlier.
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THE VINES weaves beautiful writing around an unsettling mystery: Who is the strange, scarred woman living on a seemingly uninhabitable island? Shelley Nolden's debut seems not just prescient - given the world's current focus on virology and immunizations - but also timeless, as it illustrates in painful detail how mankind seems destined to repeat our cruelest mistakes. Luckily for us readers, there's a bright thread of hope running through this book - as well as the promise of a sequel.
Highly original and richly drawn, Shelley Nolden’s THE VINES features one of the most fascinating central characters you’ll ever meet. Drawing on both the dark history of North Brother Island and today’s painfully immediate worries about immunity and transmission of deadly disease, this debut transcends genre to combine history, thrills, obsession, medical ethics, and more into the compelling story of three generations of doctors and one remarkable woman.
Eerily timely and profoundly compelling, THE VINES is an unputdownable, unforgettable saga, the journey of a seemingly helpless, persecuted American woman who survives and battles back, against all odds; this first in what promises to be an explosive series signals the arrival of Shelley Nolden's masterful new voice in hybrid fiction.
In a debut that is part horror novel, part thought experiment, Nolden has accomplished the feat of getting readers to ask themselves what horrors can be done to serve the greater good.
Every character in this book is incredibly unique…the history and science in this book is exceedingly well thought out, well researched and fabulously detailed. Where Ms. Nolden truly excels is the historical portions…For fans of real-life history, science and mysteries alike, Shelley Nolden weaves a magical story with an abundance of intrigue that will leave readers eager for a sequel.