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Out of the woods: books set in forests

I’m not entirely sure why forests are such a powerful setting and symbol in fantasy. Maybe it’s something to do with fairy tales, maybe something to do with how much of the land we now inhabit was once covered with vast acres of trees. Regardless, I love books that have forests as a main setting and I wanted to highlight some of them. They might engage with the mythology of forests in different ways, but they’re all playing with that sense of magic and danger.

out of the woods

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black: The forest that Hazel and Ben enter plays a major part in this haunting book.

The Jinx trilogy by Sage Blackwood: The Jinx trilogy is almost entirely set in the Urwald, a magical forest that’s full of danger and secrets.

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow: In Otter’s world any shadow can hold one of the deadly White Hands, and so the forest that surrounds her home is both beautiful and terrifying.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll: Carroll draws on fairy tale influences to weave her extremely creepy story of a girl who goes out into the dark woods.

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye: The forest in this book is more benign than many of the others I’m featuring here, but it’s extremely delightful.

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire LeGrand: Finley’s semi-imagined forest, the Everwood, drives a lot of this book, as well as being the place Finley feels the safest.

In the Forests of Serre (and several others) by Patricia McKillip: McKillip loves to write about forests, and she often does so with a sense of the edges where they turn magical.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne: Like the woods in The Ordinary Princess, The Hundred-Acre Woods are more benign than most of these stories. It’s still a magical and enchanting land.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: A magical forest where the trees speak Latin and time is out of joint should definitely be on this list.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede: I mean, they’re called The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Also, a wonderful mix of funny and serious.

 

Am I missing a favorite book set in a forest or woods? Let me know! I’d love to read more of them.

 

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Recent Reading: Stiefvater, White, Barnes, Carlson

blue lilyBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: I have finally figured out that this series starts off slowly and then hits a point of no return and is full speed ahead from there. I can’t wait for the next book, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, which is an exciting thing.

illusions of fateIllusions of Fate by Kiersten White: I’ve wanted to like White’s books in the past but have never quite managed it. This one I really liked. The premise and characters were really interesting and while I wasn’t 100% sold on the big twist, it also wasn’t so implausible that I wanted to give up on the book. Jessamine is also a main character who’s not white and who is from a colonized country and dealing with the effects of that in her own life and the lives of her family and friends.

killer instinctKiller Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Second book in the Naturals series. There’s a bit of second book ness to this one and the characters’ viewpoints are such a different way of seeing the world that I occasionally had a little trouble connecting to them. But all in all, this is a fascinating series.

vnhlpoTerror of the Southlands by Caroline Carlson: Sequel to Magic Marks the Spot. I liked this one less than the first, mostly because the characters seem a bit stuck in their roles. I did very much appreciate how Carlson makes Hilary an adventurous character without presenting her as the Right Way To Be A Girl. In fact, Claire and Miss Pimm are powerful magic users who also enjoy embroidery and traditionally feminine things.