Sunday, September 14, 2014

Forest of Whispers by Jennifer Murgia

Forest of Whispers
Release date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

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.

My Rating: 2 Roses

I went into this book with high hopes. I mean, a book about a girl caught up in the witch trials? That's definitely my kind of book. However, though the idea was good, the execution wasn't what I hoped it would be. It had its good points but, overall, I found Forest of Whispers to be just an okay read.

First, let's go over what I did like. I liked the atmosphere. There was an air of magic, as well as the fear and hatred that went along with it during the witch trials. I liked that, in the end, this book managed to surprise me about who was really behind some terrible things in the past that were part of Rune's legacy. I knew this person wasn't exactly nice, but I didn't suspect that it was to that extent. So, those two things were good enough to keep me reading, though not enough to make up for the issues I had with the book.

Speaking of which, let's get to that.
The characters were bland. There was nothing about them to dislike, but there wasn't anything about them to like either. They were kind of just...there. Rune, for one, was extraordinarily passive. For example, near the beginning, when something terrible happened, something that should have made Rune devastated, I didn't feel anything from her. No emotions whatsoever about the fact that her life was ruined. It felt like she barely even thought about it, let alone had some genuine emotion regarding it. And, that continued on throughout the book. She was so passive, despite everything that was happening. It was like a cardboard cutout of a character with none of the personalty or emotions to go with it. I didn't dislike her. I just felt absolutely nothing about her.

I had the same issue with the kind-of love interest, Laurentz. I know that he was supposed to be a sweet and swoon worthy hero, but he had the same problem of feeling like a cardboard cutout. There were a few moments where he displayed some characteristics that could have made him a great character, but they were few and far between. I have no idea why he felt like he had to save Rune, considering that they met two times, barely talked, and both times that they met, she acted suspicious. I felt like he had no legitimate reason for deciding to trust her, other than the fact that she was pretty. And, what really annoyed me was that he saved her from prison, someone he himself suspected as a witch, and left all the other women (who were the ones who actually weren't witches) in prison. What? That makes no sense. He, and Rune, were just...I wasn't a fan. And, of course, when you can't like the characters, there's no way you can like the book.

The story was okay, in that it managed to keep me reading, but it wasn't the best. It felt like a bunch of coincidences, with the characters doing things that moved the story forward, but felt like there was no realistic motivation behind it. But, at least I was interested enough to keep going and the ending was...suitable.

Forest of Whispers was an okay read. I didn't dislike it (mostly because it was so bland that there was nothing about it to particularly like or dislike) but it managed to keep me interested enough to read the entire way through. It wasn't a bad book, but I can only say that it was an okay book. I wouldn't recommend it personally, but if you're interested, don't let me stop you from giving it a try.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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