Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Shadows of the Forest by Emma Michaels.

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Shadows of the Forest
Emma Michaels
Publication date: November 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

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…

And this is what I think of the novel Shadows of the Forest.


The author paints a detailed mythical forest, the land between life and death. It is both beautiful and terrifying. Lily is traveling this land and meeting the spirits of the realm, as she tries to save her twin brother from death. She will pay any price. Lily is a damaged soul, the orphan of a father who abused her and a mother who did not protect her. Lily is also stubborn and impulsive. Each spirit Lily comes in contact with is a unique creature like no other. It reminds me much of the movie Pan's Labyrinth but with an Asian flair.

Although her new found magical spirits try to guide her and keep her safe, she blunders ahead only to pull back abruptly. This is a story of not only discovery, but also of acceptance.

This book is much deeper than I took at first glance. 
At first, I thought the book was okay, but the sign of a good book is when it stays with you long after you close it. And that's what happen to me.

I really enjoyed the mythical world the author created and the spirits that attempted to guide and help our main character. However, I also felt the momentum was chaotic in parts. I felt as if there were too many false starts. Key words; “I felt” The author follows the formula for this type of YA genre, but this particular formula of the guilt ridden protagonists whining about their self-inflicted guilt over something they had no control over drives me nuts. I heard you the first time, the second, time, the thirty-fifth time … UGGG! However, once you get further into the book, the self-torture ends and the story moves forward and I love where it goes.

One of the things that bugged me in this story is the character Arro. Our main character Lily is warned that he is a kitsune; a trickster and he cannot be trusted. Yet there is nothing in the story to show Arro in this light; not in this life or his previous.

It wasn't until I was reviewing the story that it hit me. Arro was never a trickster. He was never selfish or greedy. He was the victim. He had been tricked. Just as Lilly was not a bad person, an ugly person, a stupid person. She was the victim of an abusive person. What her father said to her did not make it true.

And I think this is what story is really all about. Discovering your strength and who you really are. It's about choices and acceptance. It's about seeing that you aren't the only damaged person. It's about growth. And I do like the characters grow.

Shadows of the Forrest is not the foo-foo book I took it for at first glance. I think it's going on my shelf of my favorite reads.

Shadows of the Forest is available at Amazon.

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