Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson ~ Mini Review

Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell
(Cosmere Novella)
By Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 50
Genre: Fantasy/Short Story


When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.”

Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.


Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell was a novella that was originally featured in the Dangerous Women anthology, edited and compiled by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. It was released in 2013. Sanderson provides a very nice preface explaining exactly how this intriguing short story came into existence after being contacted by George R. R. Martin with a request to contribute to the collection of stories. You can find additional information along with several excerpts here on

This short yet captivating story introduces us to Silence Montane who runs an Inn that has become a safe haven for travelers and locals within the Forests of Hell. The forest is surrounded by shades, there are rules that must be followed in order to survive.

“Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades. The simple Rules, by which every homesteader lived.”

But Silence happens to be more than a mere Innkeeper. She has managed to break every rule at some point when it comes to living among the shades. Hunting dangerous bounties to clear her debts and provide for her own, she also struggles to give her girls a life different from all she has ever known from a childhood that taught her to be a lethal calculated assassin. But she must also teach her girls to respect the dangers of the land, just as she learned.

“Never call this land hell, he had said. Respect the land as you would a dangerous beast, but do not hate it.”

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell plays through a rapid succession of events that occur after Silence notices the presence of a rather large bounty within the Inn’s common room. The story while brief, manages to deliver a fully satisfying and engaging experience that feels complete.

I was instantly drawn to the shades, which happen to be remnants of the dead that linger as lurking shadows. Passive while left to their own, they pose a real and terrifying threat when enraged. I was fascinated by this darker element and how it was incorporated to add a new level of intensity to Silence’s secret, alternate life as a bounty hunter. The is an ever looming risk creating an ominous and intense atmosphere.

“Hide from the green eyes, run from the red.”

Silence’s character is where my true gratitude lies for this short story though. She is a female protagonist that I feel really engages the reader and sets the bar. Too often I find myself struggling with the unrealistic perfection of female leads. I want credibility, not outrageous. Silence was real, presenting with a hardened shell but an inner core that exposed her own weaknesses and softer side. She was capable and strong, but also justifiably terrified at times. She was cunning but cautious. I connected with her so well.

I am going to admit that this is my first experience with Sanderson’s writing, so I am unable to make comparisons. But I was overly impressed with how much world construction and character depth occurred within such a short span of time. The entire sequence of events felt thorough and complete. I feel that this was a great introduction to his writing for myself and perhaps anyone else who may be hoping to experience his writing. I can effortlessly imagine how complex and rich his full length novels must be.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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39 thoughts on “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson ~ Mini Review

  1. I am a huge fan of Sanderson’s work but have got a little behind. This will definitely be on my TBR! I do think he writes some superb female protagonists so it doesn’t surprise me that this one is so likeable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am discovering that he might have a decent amount of novellas or short stories out there (I think?). Maybe that is the route to go. I haven’t attempted to tackle Mistborn obviously, but it is on the list. I just have too many other titles I am itching to read 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just about to ask if you’ve experienced his much more popular series by any chance, until you mentioned that this short story was your first experience of his! I’m quite curious about his ability to create worlds and characters. I haven’t read any of his books, and hopefully I’ll be able to experience something from him soon enough! Great review though. If he was able to impress you with this, I can’t imagine what he could be capable of! 😀

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think 50 pages suffice to know if you like an author’s style of writing and to get a clear idea about his writing skills. If you like this novella this much already, you should definitely read another one of his works! Sounds so creepy and tense! Great to see it’s also about an alternate life as a bounty hunter, just what I read about (minus the death part) :-).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I only checked Sanderson’s work out yesterday so it was interesting to see a review of one of this stories on your blog 🙂 I’m definitely going to try his books this year, Jackie from Death of Tsundoku said good things about his writing 🙂
    Great review, as always! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WHAT? You haven’t read Sanderson yet…??? Uhm… man I should’ve sent you Mistborn… dang it. I love Brandon Sanderson he is AMAZING. I can’t even describe his writing, world building, characters… just uhm… go buy it now. Please…. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like the sound of this. I’ve read a few other series that feature Shades a little bit and always found them extremely creepy but intriguing. Plus, Silence sounds like a character I would love too. I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to read this soon but I am definitely adding it to my TBR. Great review, Danielle!! 😁💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ok this is what I need in my life… I’ve been wanting to read Brandon Sanderson forever… and I could use a short fantasy novella right now! Thanks for the review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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