THE FOREST by Julia Blake centers on the villagers of Wyckenwode and the Forest, filled with secrets which have affected the lives of every generation. Lords go missing, and when the White Hind is seen, three village deaths follow. Everything is tied together by love and jealousy, murder and suicide, and, of course, an ancient magic.
This generation, cousins Sally and Jack, and their friend Reuben, form the tragic triangle, but they refuse to let a curse decide their fates. Armed with clues from stories passed down by their elders, the three try to survive the evil which has fallen upon them. Time is running out as they struggle to make sense of the words given to the village from the Green Man through a young girl driven mad by her experience in the Forest.
Blake has skillfully woven folklore, suspense, drama and romance together to create a detailed coming-of-age tapestry. I haven't been this moved by a fantasy novel since the last time I read Ursula K LeGuin. I never knew what to expect, especially with Sally, and the ending left me breathless. Blake deftly ties up the various storylines with a rather intricate finale, spanning yet another generation beyond the main characters, while remaining firmly rooted to the Forest.
I discovered this novel through Instagram of all places, knowing nothing about Julia Blake or her writing style, but I will definitely be reading more of her stories in the coming months.