Heat Factor: Very, very mild, which in this case is absolutely age appropriate.
Character Chemistry: The absolute best kind of YA—not at all angsty, sweet, surprising, and all about that plot.
Plot: Lydia goes to visit her Grandma for a week, and is immediately drawn to the forest—the very forest her mother has described as dark and scary. While exploring, she meets a beautiful and fascinating girl named Eden, who is searching for “treasure”. Soon, she discovers that her whole past and the forest are not at all what they seem…dun, dun, DUN!!
Overall: This book is like a magical snow globe of amazing. I loved it.
Ok, so if you hate YA and no amount of magic or wonder will sway you from this perspective, you might not like this book.
But if you’re kind of deterred usually because teenage angst was hard enough the first time around and no amount of romanticizing it in book form helps dull the memories, this might actually work for you. There’s very little angst, the characters are good eggs with nonexistent internal drama, and the plot is riveting.
Lydia goes to visit her Grandma and is immediately entranced by THE FOREST, which isn’t remotely as dark and awful as her mother has described. She almost immediately meets Eden, who is determinedly extracting a stick out of a piano (yes, in the woods) and basically Day One discovers that the forest she’s in is magic, faeries are real, and her Grandma is a witch.
The overall plot is that Eden is trying to find all the pieces of a magic staff. Lydia helps when her Grandma naps, and it becomes obvious the entire town hates Lydia and her mother. Clearly there are a lot of secrets unraveling here.
I don’t want to spoil it, but essentially Lydia blithely wanders into a real puzzle completely unaware that she’s one of the pieces, and watching her sort through it all while everyone keeps their promises and secrets is very, very fun.
Both Eden and Lydia are genuinely clever, likeable characters. It is so easy to root for them, and as a very grown up person reading about young love, I have to say that I appreciated the way it was depicted. It both honored the realness of what was between them without making it too adult or oversexualized. Just really beautiful and easy to enjoy. I also had this wonderful moment where I realized that I read the whole thing, and the characters’ sexual orientations–even the grandma’s, which (spoiler) isn’t all that straight–is the absolute least interesting thing going on here. It just wasn’t all that complex, it was a burst of fresh air, and I LOVED IT. Eden and Lydia just got to be themselves and fall for each other while doing fascinating, brave things. It was super cool.
I felt like the climactic tension was resolved a bit quickly, but the ending was resoundingly satisfying. And the forest is so vivid and absorbing that it really stays with you for some time after you’ve closed the book, which is kind of the best way to leave a story. Don’t you think?
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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