Indie Book Review: The Forest by Julia Blake

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

The Forest is the kind of story you’d expect to find in a dusty old tome if you wandered into a magical bookshop in an old English village. It’s a timeless epic tale full of mystery, love, magic, folklore, and the complex interweaving of human hearts across the eras.

The story centers on a rural village called Wykenwode, perched at the edge of an ancient and mysterious forest, which is guarded by an unseen barrier that only a predestined few can pass beyond. Those who can enter the heart of the forest often feel they are not alone, that something lurks in the shadows, watching and waiting–but for what?

Generation after generation, the villagers of Wykenwode are tormented by an ancient curse of unknown origin. When the White Hind appears, love will turn bitter, and jealousy will turn to murderous rage. Three young people will die, and nothing can be done to stop it.

We’re led through this fascinating tale by three childhood friends: the farmer’s daughter, Sally; the blacksmith’s son, Jack; and the forester’s son, Reuben–three well-developed characters whose fates are deeply entwined, with each other and with the forest itself. The question is whether their love for each other will help them survive the Wykenwode curse, or will they’ll be its next victims?

Julia Blake is one of the best, most imaginative indie authors I’ve yet encountered, and this story is a genuine triumph of storytelling. It’s a little bit historical fiction, and a little bit fantasy. There’s mystery and suspense, magic and supernatural. And there’s love–beautiful, heartbreaking, complicated, dangerous love. And I think that’s one of the things I liked best about this story: it’s deeply, wonderfully, and heartbreakingly human. Friendship, family, first love, later-in-life love, loss and grief, coming of age and all that comes with it, and all of the complicated things that go hand-in-hand with human relationships are woven through the fabric of this timeless tale.

This story was beautifully written and so much fun to read. I quite literally couldn’t put it down by the time I reached the middle. It’s the kind of story you know will stay with you long after you read it, and since I’m a slow reader, I don’t re-read a lot of books, but I will absolutely be reading this one again!

One Comment on “Indie Book Review: The Forest by Julia Blake

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