author: Jennifer Murgia
published: 9 September 2014
publisher: Spencer Hill Press
genre(s): fantasy, historical, romance
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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.
Forest of Whispers is set in the villages and forest of Bavaria, in a time of fear brought on by the spreading plague and the witches that wield their magic in the forest. The fear of the unknown is beginning to give way to hysteria, placing the blame at the hands of a mysterious young girl who was raised in the forest by a crone. The villagers have surreptiously gone to the girl and the crone in the forest for years… for potions and fortunes and herbal healing. But now fear is spreading and where better to lay the blame for things that are going wrong with the world?
The author’s writing is beautiful, vivid in its emotions and descriptions. The dangerous beauty of the forest is easily imaginable. The fear and desperation of the villagers is palpable. The bleakness of the witch prison is horrifying to envision. It is the kind of book that just draws you in and keeps you there. While the story itself is fiction, the settings are real places, making the story that much more believable.
Rune is our girl of the forest, raised in the woods by Mathilde, the crone. At first, I found it a little hard to connect to her. We aren’t quite sure who she is, what her story is, and the mystery distances her. But when we start to learn more about her and how she came to be where she is now, that connection is forged. Laurentz is her love interest, the epitome of the boy from another world. He is of noble descent, destined for political greatness. Yet he risks it all for a girl he meets only by chance at an awkward moment.
The points of view flipped between Rune and Laurentz, allowing us to really know both of these characters. We discovered Rune’s story right along with her and there were so many things that happened that I didn’t expect to see. Laurentz had his own story that was just as important as Rune’s. Their stories wove together in some very interesting ways, giving us a side of the story that we wouldn’t have been able to get if we were dependant on Rune alone.
Things to love…
- The weaving of the real and the imagined
- The vivid imagery and emotions
- The twists and turns
This is a beautiful and well-written book. If you enjoy the magic and fantasy associated with the early 1600’s, you will enjoy this read!