The Waking Forest
Genre: YA Fantasy
I received this as an e-arc from Netgalley, so thank you for the opportunity to read this YA novel.
This story is broken into two different viewpoints. The first is around Rhea, who has consistent nightmares whether asleep or awake, her just as unique sisters, and their parents who are living in a modern time yet appear to have a very old sense of existence. The second viewpoint is from the Witch in the Woods who grants wishes to children atop her throne of bones. Their worlds will find a way to come together and the forest is full of its own secrets.
I had high hopes for this story when I first read the description. I’m all about forests, witches, and unique girls, but I was really looking for a little bit of that spookiness I anticipated when I first picked this up. That vision fell superbly flat as I pushed through this story. I spent the first third of the story so confused on what was happening between both Rhea and the Witch in the Woods I began losing interest quickly. Some books pick up beyond this point and I pushed through to see where these stories would collide and hopefully redeem the initial stories I was reading from these characters and their surroundings.
Rhea’s sisters were definitely different but, like Rhea, I felt nothing for them, and it became easy to forget which sister was known for what. Additionally, the Witch in the Woods was eerie enough at first but became a little less like the woman I anticipated. While the ending did not salvage any hope I had for this book, I’m glad I was able to push through until the end here.
I did enjoy the style of writing here. One of my favorite lines happened in the beginning and was so beautifully written:
“Left alone on her throne, the Witch stitched her sternum back together with a needle fashioned from a long, sharp fang, each loop pricking her skin. When she was finished, she bent her bare knees to her chin, pressing her thighs to the red ribbon threaded through the stale skin of her chest. The foxes snorted and shuffled, but the Witch ignore them, closing her eyes and trying to force the boy’s voice, his question, out of her heart and out of her mind.”
While not necessarily significant in meaning, I genuinely did enjoy this type of writing throughout the story. It was one of the few reasons I could cling on the entire time.
Overall, if you enjoy somewhat complex and slow-burning books, I would recommend this to you. If you don’t mind getting lost in a plot with many open-ended questions, pick this up. This wasn’t a story for me, but I’m sure there are others who will enjoy not only the writing style, but the full story.