The Woman with Wings by James MacManus

By Natasja Hellenthal


Alison Spedding is a loner; no real friends, no boyfriend and a job in which she goes unnoticed. At thirty-two, her only passion is birdwatching.

One afternoon, high on a Scottish mountain, earnestly waiting for the rarest of sights – a white tailed eagle returning to its nest – she slips, falling silently. In shock, her fellow twitchers return to the hostel to raise the alarm, heavy with the realisation that she must be dead. What they find shocks them even more. Alison is already there, alive and unscathed…

Further similar episodes cause Alison’s grip on reality to slip, her mind spiralling towards breaking point. In her dreams she sees a huge shadow on the ground, as if there was a creature above her, a creature with huge wings…

Her infatuated colleague Jed is concerned. Can he intervene before Alison finally loses control?


The Woman with Wings is a contemporary mystery – with a hint of sci-fi- novel from 2019. The main character is Alison Spedding, a 33 year old loner, single and IT consultant within a high ranking firm, Foxglove. She’s also an enthusiastic bird watcher.

During a trip with other birdwatchers to Scotland, she has a fall from a mountain and to the astonishment of her fellow ‘twitchers’, they find her alive back in the hostel where they are staying. Somehow unharmed, Alison has no idea how she survived the fall, or how she made it back.

As an IT worker, she is very logical, rejecting the claims of the CCO of her company, Kennady Doxat, that she is supernatural until she can find no other explanation for her survival off the mountain and some other falls after that.

This is the core of the storyline: what is happening to her? Can Alison fly? Who is she and where does she belong?

Her late father was a university philosophy professor who passed on his questioning of the universe to her.

Apart from that, the story takes a sideways twist early on, as Alison is drawn into a clash at Foxglove: the creative director and the CEO are in a dispute and Alison gets caught in the middle. This was something I didn’t particularly enjoy. I just wanted to know how she could fly and I admit I skipped on a bit to find out more! Every story has to have a few storylines, and it does give an insight in her life apart from her interests in birdwatching and science.

Basically, the book is a female empowering book but also an ambitious piece of science fiction (proper science is at the core) and the central character of Alison Spedding is likeable and believable. There is genuine educational content in this book (Gödel, Einstein, time travel theories, fascinating avian information, evolution and the issue of other life in the Andromeda galaxy).

Aside from the possible ability to fly, his book explores the inner turmoil of a perfectly ordinary young woman when her life is changed in an instant. The Woman with Wings kept me hooked from beginning to end. The insight into Alison’s mind had me swirling with her as she traversed the waves from her fall and all what it meant. The writing was superb and all in all this was a page-turning read with a very unique end! You won’t be disappointed!



Natasja Hellenthal is a bestselling published author of ten novels to date. Based in Maureillas, she writes thought-provoking, speculative fiction and has started her own book cover design company, Beyondbookcovers.

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