Book Review: Forest of Whispers by Jennifer Murgia
Genre: YA Fantasy
ARC provided by NetGalley
Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago... and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.
Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to--one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder--a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe.
First of all, I would like to thank the birthing god or goddess for letting me born in a time period where a woman could sneeze in peace without being accused and persecuted of witchcraft.
The Forest of Whispers was a little strange to me at first. It had that strange quality about it that I also found when I was reading Chime by Franny Billingsley and Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer, both of which I enjoyed reading and ultimately loved. It isn’t like the strange quality that I mentioned is to be interpreted as bad. In fact, that gave a sublime, surreal and timeless feel to the storytelling. These traits are what set apart Forest of Whispers, removed from the usual bustle of young adult fantasy and placed on a separate unique place.
It represented a slice of life, a peak into medieval Bavaria where superstition and religion ruled daily life and put the blame of things unwarranted on innocents while true evil hid behind the gossip. It was both fact and fiction and I loved every minute of reading it. That sense of strangeness that I always feel when I read this kind of books gave way to the highs and lows of Rune’s journey and self-discovery.
I understand that this is meant to be a standalone and it could stand alone however I felt that the last quarter of the book, the denouement, the unraveling of things, felt a bit rushed. And while the ending was written as a new beginning, one where the reader could speculate what will happen now, I would like to know of what will happen.