Shadows of the Forest
By Emma Michaels
Publisher: CHBB Publishing
Genre: YA Fantasy
Everyone is dying to live in the Shadows of the Forest.
They gave me three rules to follow in exchange for my brother’s life:
1. Do not enter the West Wing;
2. Do not go outside after darkness falls; and
3. There is only one exit; The Gates.
This is what happened when I broke them…
I admit that I was instantly drawn to Shadows of the Forest with its eye-catching cover and mysterious blurb. I also welcomed the opportunity to review something lighter and standalone. When you read fantasy, most stories belong to a series, and lately I have struggled with commitment issues. Okay, maybe it is not such a new problem, but it was nice to be presented with something that seemed to offer a more instant sort of gratification.
We find ourselves introduced to twins Lily and Cole who share an unbreakable connection. Coming from an abusive home, Cole has always been Lily’s ardent defender. Simply put, he is her hero, all that she has and can trust in a world she feels has abandoned her. They are inseparable.
That is until a tragic accident lands them both in a strange hospital near the edge of the forest. Lily awakens alone and terrified to discover that Cole has made the ultimate sacrifice to save her. Unwilling to accept the fate of her brother, she desperately sets out into the forest in search of Usagi, the one individual who may be able to save him. But everything comes at a cost and this is not your normal forest.
What we are introduced to a story that takes life and death and presents them in a beautifully mystifying way. Composed of spirits, magic and love, Shadows of the Forest is a very distinct reading experience that was full of potential.
The main character and her brother Cole are built steadily and successfully, as Lily slowly reveals their dark past with memories that are placed carefully throughout the story. An entourage of eccentric and peculiar supporting characters, including a Kitsune named Arro, are introduced and the curious story begins to blossom.
The author’s writing is direct, but not without the necessary details to paint the intriguing world that is the forest. Full of magic and numerous spirits, the world that has been constructed is teeming with fascination and endless possibilities. Unfortunately, I felt that this aspect of the story was under utilized. This is one of the very rare occasions where I am going to say that a little more complexity could have went a long way. As the conclusion of Shadows of the Forest approached, the story pace began to pick up quite rapidly leaving the ending to feel rushed and somewhat lackluster. Overall, either the short length, execution, or both have left me with a read that was engaging but not as satisfying as I would have liked. Simply put, I wanted more. The concept within screams to be expanded on and explored further. This is still a book that I would easily recommend to others in search of a fast read full of fantasy and delightful characters.
*I would like to than XPresso Book Tours for providing me with a copy of Shadows of the Forest. This is my own, unbiased review.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐