Monday, May 8, 2023

Today's read... The Forest Grimm by Kathryn Purdie

The Forest Grimm, #1
by Kathryn Purdie
Wednesday Books
YA Fantasy / Fairy Tale Retelling
338 pages


A spellbinding YA fantasy from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kathryn Purdie, where fairy tales come to life with dark, deadly twists.

"Grandmère, tell me again the story of how I die."

The Midnight Forest. The Fanged Creature. Two fortune-telling cards that spell an untimely death for 17-year-old Clara. Despite the ever-present warning from her fortune-teller grandmother, Clara embarks on a dangerous journey into the deadly Forest Grimm to procure a magical book—Sortes Fortunae, the Book of Fortunes—with the power to reverse the curse on her village and save her mother.

Years ago, when the villagers whispered their deepest desires to the book, its pages revealed how to obtain them. All was well until someone used the book for an evil purpose—to kill another person. Afterward, the branches of the Forest Grimm snatched the book away, the well water in Grimm’s Hollow turned rancid, and the crops died from disease. The villagers tried to make amends with the forest, but every time someone crossed its border, they never returned.

Now, left with no alternative, Clara and her close friend, Axel—who is fated never to be with her—have set their minds to defying fate and daring to accomplish what no one else has been able to before. But the forest—alive with dark, deadly twists on some of our most well-known fairy tales—has a mind of its own.


Familiar fairy tales take a dark spin in a read with many layers and action until the very end.

Clara's life in the village once was wonderful as a magical book granted each person a wish, and the magic surrounding them made everything thrive. Then, things changed. After a murderous wish, the book had gone missing and a curse has settled in its place. Villagers, along with Clara's mother, have disappeared into the forest, one by one, never to return again. Many villagers want to find a way to change the fate, but the forest keeps anyone who tries out. When Clara discovers a red cape from her mother and finds that it allows her access into the forest, she's determined to make everything right. Besides, she's long known that her fate is tied to the darkness beyond the trees and knows she's destined to die.

This one hails from the darker side of fairy tale retellings and builds in several well-known characters, while only loosely reminding of the originals. Each direction takes cruel turns in a magical and vicious forest. The author lets imagination flow, while weaving in many layers and meanings. There are quite a few symbols, sub-sub-plots, and meaning-meant nods piled in, and a few of these lost me a time or two, but with the action at such a rapid speed, there isn't much time to worry about these because the next one arrives even before the last ones end. One dangerous situation after the next keeps those pages turning and creates a tangled whirlwind of sub-plots and strings. Action fans won't catch a breath of boredom.

I did read through this in one sitting and was held in the pages until the end. It was impossible to guess what would happen next (although the romance side was more predictable), and while some connections or purposes remained a bit blurred, it was exciting until the end. The variety of characters  slide into the retellings smoothly and carried variety. There were a couple, which I would have enjoyed getting to know better and, again, found some frayed ends, but it was rich enough on this end to make Clara and those around her easy to root for. 

This is the first in a series/duology (?), which caught be a little off-guard, since this book wraps up well on its own, and I can't really see where another book would even want to go from here. A lot happened (too much, maybe), and these pages did hit fast and furious...and a little all over the place. But it is fun and entertaining, cruel but not gruesome, and has heart without diving overly deep. 

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