Fantastical Killer Forest Story

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If an outsider somehow makes it onto Endla they’re given a choice of death: the Forest or the lake.

Leelo was born and raised coexisting with the Wandering Forest located on the small island of Endla, and as much as she loves her community, she struggles with the fact that because her brother is an incanto, one without magic, he will be exiled by his next birthday.

When Leelo sees an outsider on the verge of drowning, she knows what she’s supposed to do - but in an instant, Leelo betrays everything she’s ever grown up. This leads to discoveries and consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren. But, as they grow closer, Leelo begins to question every fabric of her life.

I really enjoyed the premise of this novel - a creepy, evil forest that kills outsiders? Sign me up! Mara Rutherford did an amazing job at world building in this novel and establishing Leelo as a character. Because of how established she was, when Leelo begins to question her beliefs and lifestyle, it makes the book all the more interesting. It also gives you a bit of a chance to piece together your assumptions of the puzzle pieces Leelo is gathering and it was kind of fun to be able to say, “I knew it…”, when some of it came together.

The romance aspect of this novel is kind of what I would expect from a YA - not exactly instant love, but it was kind of close to it. But, Leelo and Jaren were sweet and I actually enjoyed their relationship and how they learned about each other and though it felt a little rushed, I still was rooting for them.

Overall, I think anyone who loves a good fantasy romance would greatly enjoy this book. And, even if you don’t like romance novels, I still think fantasy readers would enjoy the world building Rutherford has done.

*Thank you Inkyard Press for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review