Magdalena Mountain

Publication Date:

August 2018



Original language and publisher

English | Counterpoint Press

Territories Handled

World excl. English North America


Animals & Nature, Literary Fiction

Magdalena Mountain


“[A] lyrically wrought tale of discovery, exploration, and renewal…  In this debut novel, acclaimed nature-writer Pyle (Mariposa Road, 2010) brings a lush sense of the majesty, mystique, and magic to be found in all of nature’s forms.”Booklist

“An elegant, eccentric novel of love, loneliness, and lepidoptera… Worthy company for work by other naturalist/novelists: Nabokov, Matthiessen, Kingsolver.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Magdalena Mountain is a remarkable melding of all the talents and passions of Robert Michael Pyle. It will tingle your spine, even as it tickles your funny bone.” —Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Piano Tide

“Robert Pyle is one of the best nature writers in the world, period.” —Brian Doyle, author of Mink River

“Only Robert Michael Pyle could’ve written this daring novel. He’s walked in the boots of his colorful characters, whether strolling across the Yale campus or chasing rare butterflies in the wilds. He masterfully describes the seasonal nuances of a singular mountain. His love and exquisitely detailed understanding of the natural world fills these pages.” —Jim Lynch, author of Before the Wind

A rich and rollicking first novel from one of America’s most beloved and widely acclaimed nature writers, Robert Michael Pyle.

In Magdalena Mountain, Robert Michael Pyle’s first and long-awaited novel, the award-winning naturalist proves he is as at home in an imagined landscape as he is in the natural one. At the center of this story of majesty and high mountain magic are three Magdalenas—Mary, a woman whose uncertain journey opens the book; Magdalena Mountain, shrouded in mystery and menace; and the all-black Magdalena alpine butterfly, the most elusive of several rare and beautiful species found on the mountain.

And high in the Colorado Rocky Mountain wilderness, sharing the remote territory of the Erebia magdalena butterfly, lives the enigmatic Oberon, a reluctant de facto leader of the Grove, a diverse community of monks who share a devotion to nature. Converging in the same wilderness are October Carson, a beachcomber-wanderer in pursuit of the alpine butterflies he collects for museums; James Mead, a young graduate student intent upon learning the ecology of this seductive creature; and Mary Glanville, who also seeks the butterfly but can’t remember why.

While the mystery surrounding Mary takes a menacing turn, their shared quest pulls them deeper into the high mountain wilderness, culminating in a harrowing encounter on the stony slopes of Magdalena Mountain.