I am a Bookshop.org affiliate. If you make a purchase by clicking through the links in this post, I will receive a commission, and Bookshop.org will donate a matching commission to independent booksellers. For more information, see my “About” page.
I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.
Rora and her brother have been living as refugees in Telyan since they escaped the deadly forests of the Vale, and before that, the slaughter of their entire village. But although the king and his youngest son have been welcoming of the two shapeshifters, not everyone trusts them. And when the magic-hating king to the north starts threatening war against both Telyan and the magical creatures in the Vale, Rora’s position is more tenuous than ever.
When the young prince is taken ill with a deadly magical plague, Rora and her brother are as desperate as the king to find a cure–desperate enough to consider returning to the Vale. Unfortunately, the king insists they take his eldest son, Weslyn, with them. Weslyn has never appeared to like Rora, and the feeling is mutual. But on their dangerous journey, they will all need to cooperate, and when they uncover an even more dangerous secret, it will take more than just cooperation to save their friends, their home, and all of the magical beings from anihilation.
FORESTBORN is a new high fantasy in the classic tradition: a magical heroine, outcast for her powers, wrestling with her place in the world of humans while being swept up in their politics. It brought to mind Graceling, Frostblood, The Wizards of Once, The Last Magician, with hints of Oz or Wonderland in the shifting, sometimes antagonistic landscape, and of Game of Thrones, as questions of parenthood, madness, and morality arise to complicate the story. It feels timeless (I would believe that it was written in the early 2000s, the ’90s, the 80s) and yet not dated. As the protagonist and her brother are refugees, and as the king tyrant in the neighboring kingdom uses the magical people as scapegoats in his power grab, the themes will certainly resonate with modern readers. I loved every minute of this book and am looking forward to a sequel!