I’m so ready to be swept up in fantasy politics and Forestborn delivers. Full of secrets, adventure, and shapeshift, Forestborn transported me back to how I felt when I first started reading fantasy. While it had different pacing than I was expecting, by the end I was thoroughly engaged. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Rora is a shifter, as magical as all those born in the wilderness–and as feared. She uses her abilities to spy for the king, traveling under different guises and listening for signs of trouble.
When a magical illness surfaces across the kingdom, Rora uncovers a devastating truth: Finley, the young prince and her best friend, has caught it, too. His only hope is stardust, the rarest of magical elements, found deep in the wilderness where Rora grew up–and to which she swore never to return.
But for her only friend, Rora will face her past and brave the dark, magical wood, journeying with her brother and the obstinate, older prince who insists on coming. Together, they must survive sentient forests and creatures unknown, battling an ever-changing landscape while escaping human pursuers who want them dead. With illness gripping the kingdom and war on the horizon, Finley’s is not the only life that hangs in the balance.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Forestborn is a story that, at times, feels steeped in fear. Afraid of her magic, Rora is faced with intolerance and fear. The hatred against her magical kind and how she has struggled to carve out home and relationships for herself. At times, scenes of the ignorance and doubts broke my heart. And you can’t help but wonder if there’s a way forward for Rora and her magical kind in the kingdom. An element that ended up being one of my favorite was the sibling relationship between Rora and her brother.
The ways she feels selfish compared to her brother, but the love and bond they have. It was so refreshing to see, because I feel like I rarely see brothers and sisters and more just sisters or brothers. Forestborn begins as a quest for Rora to face her fears and past for the ones she loves. But it ends up morphing into a story about doing the right thing. About wondering how, as individuals, we can make change. While the pacing was certainly slower than I expected, as the magical system and world needs to be set up, I ended up persevering because I liked the world.
It’s a slow kind of sinking, especially as the action is revealed. I am having a hard time putting my finger on the pacing because while I remember loads of action happening, all in all I still also remember thinking the pacing was slower. I also was hoping for more character detail and exploration, but I’m very intrigued to see where they, and the world, will go in the sequel. Overall, it’s a solid first book to a series that has piqued my interest.