Author: Emma Michaels
Publisher: CHBB Publishing
Publishing Date: Nov. 5th, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
“Everyone is dying to live in the Shadows of the Forest.
They gave me three rules to follow in exchange for my brother’s life:
1. Do not enter the West Wing;
2. Do not go outside after darkness falls; and
3. There is only one exit; The Gates.
This is what happened when I broke them…”
I realize that’s not a lot to go on but doesn’t it sound intriguing?! Let me tell you a little about the story.
There are two main characters. Lily and Cole, twins, whom from the very beginning have it quite rough. After a terrible accident Lily wakes up in the hospital while her brother remains in a coma. Sounds pretty normal right, sad but normal? Wrong! This is not your average hospital. Cole’s coma is actually part of a pact he made to save his sister. A life for a life. Once Lily discovers this she is hell bent on getting her brother back.
Lily is determined to do what it takes to keep her brother from dying. Even if it means taking his place. She goes on an incredible journey through the forest, which is basically the spirit world, with the help of those who run the hospital.
This is another one of those “almost had it,” kind of books for me. The potential was so palpable! Micheals did one heck of a job creating this world that we’re plummeted into right from the prologue. Her writing is almost poetic at times and the imagery is beautifully creative. She even designed that stunning cover! Though this book is very short it had a lot of strong messages inside of it. You won’t find petty things like sibling rivalry here. Instead we’re shown a sibling relationship where the two depend on one another so heavily to survive an all too real world full of cruelty, abuse and neglect. Not to mention fantasy, adventure, and the subtle ties to Japanese culture. Which I LOVED.
Unfortunately *cringes* there were just waaay too many mistakes. In grammar, in character, in the plot itself. It’s almost as though there are missing pieces to the story and we’re only getting maybe……a third of it. How are we supposed to enjoy the depth of the story if we can’t connect with it? I keep thinking that the story may have been rushed? For all the detail in the imagery there’s a serious lack of detail in the plot. There are things that are mentioned only once and then never elaborated on again. Some of those rules in the blurb for example.
Lily, our main character and “hero” of the story here was utterly boring. Although I will never understand what it’s like to be abused by a parent, her attitude toward herself leaves something to be desired. This is one of those serious messages the book touches on that I mentioned earlier. Due to Lily’s abuse she is seriously scarred inside. Afraid to have anyone touch her except her brother. Which I admit can sound a little creepy but not if you think about it. She’s obviously scared and trusts no one but Cole who has always been loving to her. Lily constantly drowns herself in her insecurity though, which makes me wonder how she even reached the end of the story. I don’t know how tough it is to deal with something like abuse but I do know that repetition makes for a very droll character. Seriously. It’s like 90% of the book has this “woe is me” vibe. Then you turn around and BAM! Lily see’s her self worth and finds inner strength. I’m happy for her, that she believes in herself, but it happened so fast it made no sense. It basically just left me confused. Where did this character growth even come from? Again that rush job feeling.
Cole I liked. Cole certainly had more personality. He’s very protective of his sister, especially because she’s been abused by their father. His love for her is beautiful. Yes he is in a coma throughout the book, so maybe that’s why I liked him the best. He wasn’t really there to annoy my socks off.
So sadly this book was just a no go for me. There just wasn’t enough. A few things needed to happen in order for this book to be better. One, someone seriously needs to take another look at the plots flow. Two, Lily needs more……..just more! Three, this story needed to be checked three or four more times for it’s grammar mistakes before it hit the shelves. Self publishing is really really hard. So take a little more time, ask a few more people for their eyes and you’re golden. Oh and four, add pages. Many many more pages because there’s too much that was trying to be done here with only 144 pages. It just needs a do-over. Movies do it all the time. Why can’t books?
So I’m sorry, but I didn’t like this book. The idea, yes. The actual book, no.
Mmmm, eh. If you’re looking for a quick Mental Health, Fantasy fix then yes. If you’re looking for a good story with depth and feel and umph to it? Something that grips you and plagues your thoughts while you’re at work? Then no.
*I received a copy of this book from the Publisher via YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.*
Emma Michaels is the award winning author of the Society of Feathers series with over 15 publications under her belt. With a love for all things story-telling this bibliophile plans to take over the world one cup of coffee at a time. A rule breaker who isn’t afraid to have uncommon opinions she is an avid lover of mathematics and stand out fiction which transcends both its genre and format whether books, games, movies, or otherwise. A good story is a good story. When she isn’t online she is out dancing in the Washington rain or seeking new adventures.