The Forest
October 26, 2021

Book Review

The Forest

reviewed by Sadie Hartmann “Mother Horror”

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In this debut novel, Lisa Quigley blends together dark fantasy elements with folk horror and suspense.

The book opens with a familiar but effective hook. A woman feeling betrayed by her circumstances and loved ones is stealing away in the middle of the night with her infant son.

Destination: the Forest.

From here, readers take a trip back in time to experience the circumstances in Faye’s life leading up to this planned escape.

As a mother of three, Quigley’s emphasis on the emotional and psychological aspects of motherhood and parenting was relatable for me. I did find myself having to fight off those tendencies to judge Faye’s behavior and actions throughout the story and take a posture of empathy. This helped me to have a more enjoyable reading experience because at first, I was zeroing in on all those “first-time mom” paranoias and fears with too much scrutiny. Why is Faye defaulting to breastfeeding every time baby Jonas is fussy? Can’t Faye just let Charlie figure things out with his newborn son the way she allows herself to figure things out? I really had to silence the inner critic.

Scattered throughout the first-person narrative are some attempts at world-building by way of Faye expressing some kind of thoughts or emotions about them. Edgewood is a magical or enchanted place where nothing bad happens, guarded by generational Stewards.

There is enough information gleaned from conversations and Faye’s inner thoughts to get a good sense of how everything works but perhaps a little too thin to answer all the questions readers are sure to have. And that is sometimes the problem with first-person narratives. Everything comes filtered through one character so there’s a real limit to how much technical information can transfer over without feeling like an awkward info dump.

However, this doesn’t distract from Quigley’s natural ability to easily draw her audience into the lives of these fictional characters to see how everything was going to play out. I’m definitely recommending this book to people who love those stories about small, rural towns with something secretive going on; think about the M. Night Shyamalan movie, The Village.

Why do the townspeople fear the forest; who or what lives there? With every new discovery, Faye’s fate gets more and more intriguing. Once you start The Forest, be prepared to carve out enough time to finish because this is easily a one sitting read. A great debut book from Lisa Quigley. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on any new releases from this author.

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