Brother and Sister Enter the Forest

Author: Mirabella, Richard

Publication Date:

March 2023



Original language and publisher

English | Catapult

Territories Handled

World excl. English North America


Debut Novel, Literary Fiction

Brother and Sister Enter the Forest

Author: Mirabella, Richard


Riveting, Relentless. A novel of calm and chilling reserve and accomplishment. — Joy Williams, author of Harrow

A unique, evocative novel that doesn’t shy away from awkwardness and pain. Mirabella’s debut delves into the stubborn, haunted connections between his characters and those they’ve known and loved. A doomed road trip, the aftereffects of an injury. Mirabella’s sentences reveal darkness and truth in the remembered past and the fractured present. A wry, original, new voice in fiction! — Rachel B Glaser, author of Paulina & Fran

“Befitting its fairy-tale title, Brother & Sister Enter the Forest sits in a mist of unease, haunted by the restless ghosts of childhood violence and abuse. But what lingers most in Richard Mirabella’s masterful novel are the brilliant moments of tenderness between siblings, between lovers, between friends, between parents and children—all of them grasping for one another’s hands in the face of so much pain, all of them fighting to meet life’s messiness with compassion and love. This is brave, beautiful storytelling.” —Zak Salih, author of Let’s Get Back to the Party

“This is a gorgeous novel—full of mystery, dread and a deep, melancholy understanding of what it means to love someone who is mentally ill. I was completely captivated.”  —Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk

“Richard Mirabella’s debut novel Brother & Sister Enter the Forest doesn’t so much seek understanding as it does carve indelible and brave circles into the depths of desire, violence, loss, and belonging that keep us alive, connected, heartbroken and in love, despite logic or consequence. This novel makes the world bigger.”  —Madeline Ffitch, author of Stay and Fight

“There are so many things to love about Richard Mirabella’s outstanding Brother & Sister Enter the Forest but what I love best is its meticulous attention to atmosphere, by which I mean the music of the book, the soul of it, expressed in its incisive descriptions, its cadence, its dark and tender heart. It’s what revives me every time I pick it up, and it will keep me coming back again and again.”—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World

Opening like a fairy tale and ending like a nightmare, this cannonball of a queer coming-of-age novel follows a young man’s relationship with a violent older boyfriend—and how he and his sister survive a terrible crime.

After years of severed communication, Justin appears on his sister’s doorstep needing a place to stay. The home he’s made for himself has collapsed, as has everything else in his life. When they were children, Willa played the role of her brother’s protector, but now, afraid of the chaos he might bring, she’s reluctant to let him in.

Willa lives a carefully ordered life working as a nurse and making ornate dioramas in her spare time. As Justin tries to connect with the people she’s closest to—her landlord, her boyfriend, their mother—she begins to feel exposed. Willa and Justin’s relationship has always been strained yet loving, frustrating and close. But it hits a new breaking point when Justin spirals out of control, unable to manage his sobriety and the sustained effects of a brain injury.

Years earlier, in high school, desperate to escape his home life and his disapproving, troubled mother, Justin falls into the hands of his first lover, a slightly older boy living on his own who offers Justin some semblance of intimacy and refuge. When Justin’s boyfriend commits a terrifying act of violence, the two flee on a doomed road trip, a journey that will damage Justin and change his and his family’s lives forever.

Weaving together these two timelines, Brother & Sister Enter the Forest unravels the thread of a young man’s trauma and the love waiting for him on the other side.