Cover Image: The Waking Forest

The Waking Forest

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Rhea Ravenna can see things, a mysterious world which lies past the back of her house, the Waking Forest. She’s always been the only one able to see it, but lately things are escalating and Rhea finds herself sleepwalking, visualising her dreams and is struggling to tell what it real anymore. 

Events in the forest seem to be effecting life in the real world. Her sisters Renatta, Rhesa and Rose also hint they see things at times, but will never admit to it. Rhea’s has a pet fox named Gabrielle, she appeared out of the forest one day and seems to guide Rhea.

I love the premise of this book and I adore the writing style, dark fairytale with hints of the Brothers Grimm, poetic and visceral, but the plot seems to be convoluted and a little confusing. I also wish there was more of a sense of place and time in the ‘real world’ to juxtapose with the Waking Forest and give it more of that Magical Realism feeling. Overall I enjoyed it for the folklore and macabre descriptions, but feel like it could have been improved in places and at times was overly wordy.

I love the narrator, a soft and expressive voice, read like a bedtime story. Fantastic.

Cover beautiful

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The Waking Forest
By Alyssa Wees
Dreamscape Media (audiobook)

Alyssa Wees spins a spellbinding tale of magic, mystery, and self-discovery that will keep the reader mesmerized to the very end. The audiobook edition, narrated by Katelyn Levering, was a capturing performance of the otherworldly and enigmatic tone of The Waking Forest.

The story entwines the lives of two fledgling women. Rhea, who dreams of escaping her monotonous reality, and the Witch, a mysterious figure who offers Rhea a chance to enter a world of enchantment and danger. As Rhea navigates surreal Waking Forest, she realizes she is more than she ever knew. With the vibrant and immersive world building and characterizations, a realm of fantastical landscapes and creatures are hauntingly beautiful. As you are submersed into Rhea’s journey from fainthearted wanderer to empowered heroine, the transformation…’stretches herself to fit within in her skin.’

I would like to thank NetGalley, Dreamscape Media, and most definitely Alyssa Wees for the audiobook of The Waking Forest and for the opportunity to experience this story and provide and an honest and unbiased review and feedback.
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Thank you to Dreamscape media for this opportunity to listen to this audiobook arc which is now available!

Pan’s Labyrinth meets The Hazelwood is how this book was marketed.

Katelyn Levering is the narrator and to be honest they should have chosen a different narrator. She was not the right fit for such a dark ya fantasy book. Her voice was too old for a teenager.

As for the book itself? I do not see the comparisons to either. It was too fluffy to be a comparison to Pan’s Labyrinth and the world was not as well built as The Hazelwood. Overall I feel like I wasted my time even listening.
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Format: Audiobook courtesy of netgalley but views are my own. 


The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?


I like the idea of this. I think there is some clever framing, and I enjoyed the "fairytale" narrative of the boy talking to the witch initially. 


I think the transitions between stories are quite clunky. I also couldn't believe how early the twist is revealed, because the resolution really loses its impact with how drawn out it is. It is also pretty jarring, to think we're reading a certain story in a certain time, for the majority of the book, to then switch into something entirely different. I imagine some will love that, but I found it too clunky. 


I think it's an interesting take on fantasy, and there are some interesting reveals. I just didn't feel the writing was strong enough to support such jarring plot choices.
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Rhea is the only person in her family who can see the forest that sometimes appears behind their home. Whenever she tries to touch it, it vanishes. But for the Witch, this forest is her home. She sits atop her throne, granting wishes to children who find her in their dreams. But one night she’s visited by a mysterious stranger who reappears every night. And Rhea notices that something isn’t quite right at home. As their paths begin to collide, unthinkable truths emerge and threaten their survival.
This was not an enjoyable read, and I’m going to get right into why. First, this is a work of fantasy, but it’s not situated at all in time or place. Rhea’s chapters begin and it’s hard to tell if it’s fantasy, nineteenth century, or modern, until some modern technology is mentioned as an aside well into the first portion of the work. There’s also no real plot in section one (which, as an aside, is over half the book). It’s mainly just a setup and build into the big reveal of the next section, which was as about as predictable as a fantasy work of this type could be. The antagonist wasn’t given enough page time to be compelling, the characters weren’t compelling, and the world was not compelling.
The writing in this work was painful. It made me literally roll my eyes and sigh with almost every page turn. The style started off lyrical and poetic, and I honestly quite enjoyed it. But then the poetic descriptions kept coming for EVERYTHING. How about this phrase: “popped pustules of stars”? The descriptions became so absurd and weren’t meaningful at all. I wish I had counted how many similes/metaphors/analogies were present on each page, because it was an unbelievable amount. I think if you edited out the similes and metaphors this book would have only been about a third of the length. The author repeatedly relied on the same sorts of writing without varying it – for example, instead of saying something along the lines, “She felt her spirits soaring high,” the author wrote, “Her spirits soared like a bird, high, higher, highest.” That repetition of the adjective happened often. Why use one adjective when you can use five? And then, on top of all this lyrical, extraneous, metaphorical writing, the author would go in the complete opposite direction and use words like “mom” and “dad,” which is jarring.
The only thing I liked about this YA book was its cover. This was unfortunately a huge miss for me and I can’t recommend it to anyone. There are a decent number of reviewers who did enjoy it though, so it could be worth checking out some of their review if you’re interested in it. My thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for providing me a review copy of this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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The idea of this book is wonderful. But is just missing...something. The FairyTale aspects of it is delightful and thought provoking, makes you appreciate the author. I look forward to more books from her. 

However, with this particular one, I really just wanted more, something deeper.
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Thank you NetGalley for another ARC,

The Waking Forest, by Alyssa Wees, is a young adult fantasy novel with princesses, witches, magical people and so much more.

I will always give kudos for narrators who can make dozens of different voices and never confuse their listeners.

It’s predictable but it’s a fun time anyways; it has a good rhythm, with a good enough plot and likable enough characters, and the barely there romance is surprisingly good.
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The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees is a spellbinding tale of magic, mystery, and self-discovery that kept me captivated from beginning to end. The story weaves together the lives of two young women: Rhea, who dreams of escaping her mundane existence, and the Witch, a mysterious figure who offers Rhea a chance to enter a world of enchantment and danger. As Rhea navigates the strange and surreal landscape of the Waking Forest, she learns that there is more to her own identity than she ever imagined.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the vivid and immersive world-building. Wees has created a fantastical realm full of surreal creatures and landscapes that are both beautiful and haunting. The characters are equally compelling, especially Rhea, whose journey from timid dreamer to fierce heroine is both empowering and relatable. I think this transformation is powerfully demonstrated in this quote: "Something savage spreads within me like a yawn. A girl within a girl. And she stretches herself to fit within my skin. All my life I have been waiting and waiting for her to come. Now, she says…” --These lines gave me chills they were so evocative!

I listened to the audiobook edition of The Waking Forest, narrated by Katelyn Levering, and was impressed by her performance. Her voice captured the ethereal and mysterious tone of the story perfectly, and she did an excellent job bringing the characters to life.

Overall, I highly recommend The Waking Forest to anyone looking for a captivating and thought-provoking read. Alyssa Wees has crafted a beautifully written and imaginative story that will transport you to another world and leave you thinking long after you've finished reading.
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This started with promise. The writing is unique and fits the style of magical realism well. Katelyn Levering's narration brought out the lyrical prose beautifully. Unfortunately, the plot lacked the depth it needed to support the complex and confusing storyline. The shorter format also took away from the ability for the characters and relationships to develop in a meaningful way.

Thank you Alyssa Wees, Dreamscape Media, and Netgalley for my advanced review copy. My opinions are my own.

Plot -3
Writing and Editing - 3
Character Development -2
Narration -5
Personal Bias -3
Final Score - 3.2
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The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees is an ethereal story that combines fairytales and fables with a magical historical fantasy that brings to mind The Labyrinth or What Dreams May Come. The flowery language and detailed world building pulls you into a dual timeline tale of a girl with her family and a witch with her fox. Rhea has terrible nightmares and premonitions with a darkness that she can't explain. The more she tries to figure out, the more she loses. Similarly, the Witch in the woods fights to figure out a deep mystery that burns into her heart. This story is full of dreamy scenes and a strange mystery that draws the reader in. I enjoyed the slow pacing and melodic prose. The narration of this book was beautiful and I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook.
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Book review:
I was provided an advanced reader copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
I listened to this book via an audiobook. This is a fantasy/ fairy tale about a young girl who gets pulled into a fantasy world that collided with reality to the point she has trouble telling which is which. There’s a fox who is said to be not a fox ( but what is he??) and a witch and it all went down from there. I’m sorry but I couldn’t t finish this book, it was too confusing and I didn’t have an attachment to the main protagonist at all as I felt she was very under developed and had no substance or personality. The story jumped all over the place and I just could not tell what was happening. I gave this book 2 stars.
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I received an ARC audiobook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you  Dreamscape Media for this audiobook. All thoughts are my own
This one was an interesting idea. I really like the narrator and the imagery the author uses. However something was just off for me on this one. It didn't quite hook me all the way in. I wasn't as invested as I was hoping to be. So for me this book was just average. 
This is the story of a girl who has these nightmares that become reality. It's kind of a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. However it was hard to see most of those elements. There wasn't very many guesses of the boys name.

Content: graphic details (gory), language  

Listen If you enjoy:
🧚Rumpelstiltskin retellings
🌲Deep dark forests
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I had high hopes for this book based off its description. Overall the story was good. I really enjoyed the relationships between all of the sisters. I liked seeing the details of their unique personalities and how they developed as the story unfolded. I loved how once the truth of the wish giving witch was revealed how the story became one of friendships, loyalty, teamwork and sacrificing for the ones you love. Unfortunately, I think this is one of those stories that for me would have been more enjoyable if I read the physical book. I found the audiobook hard to follow at some points and I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on or where in the story everything was connecting too. There were a lot of changes and overlapping storylines that would have been easier to follow when actually reading the story. I think a lot of teens will enjoy the magic of this novel. I also thought it was cool how the author used this story to draw attention to anxiety and how having it is totally normal and doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. I thought this will really make this story relatable to many teens/ya/adults. I think the audiobook was 3 stars but I would say the physical book for many will easily be 4 stars!
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Thank you to Net Galley for a copy of this audiobook. 

The book:
I think this book is a nostalgic nod to older fairytales. It plays on nightmares and darkness in the best way. It is haunting and powerful, ensuring a dark ride through this fairytale world that Wees' beautifully crafts. 

Wees' prose reminds me of Adrienne Young's, as it provides that lyrical, almost poetic flow that triggers emotions of gutwrenching connection to the characters and their stories as the story progresses. I am excited to see this author's voice grow even more. I think we can expect great things.  

At first, I was a little unsure because the parallel stories were confusing me, but it all came together with a clash that I think really worked for the overall style of the book. I wish the pacing had been a little more settled, but I struggle with books that push all the action to the end. I also felt the pacing shift made the second half a bit more confusing at times. 

Overall, I think the book will definitely appeal to those looking for a YA book that explores dark themes about the power of magic and nightmares. While I do not think all will respond to this book, it will find a home among readers that are looking for a book to provide a chilling tale with powerful emotion. 

The audiobook:
I think the narrator did a good job of pacing this story. Her tone and pacing matched the overall lyrical quality of Wees' writing. It helped to immerse me in the story. I am glad I had the opportunity to review the audiobook because it helps me really enjoy a slow-paced book more than I do reading a physical or e-book copy. My only complaint is that at times the narrator's voice would trail off at the end of sentences. Normally this is fine, but as I am a commute reader, I need to combat other noises and I was slowed down by going back to catch what was happening in places.
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Today! Todays this sweet little audiobook is coming out (28th of March 2023). It is a young adult fantasy novel. I got the to chance to listen to it as an ARC and I did enjoy it. In "The Waking Forest" by Alyssa Wees we are following the story of a witch in the forest and also the story of a girl, Rhea, wo is living with her parents and her three sisters in a beautiful house. One day their paths will collide and that will possibly change everything about both of their lives...

The audiobook was spoken by Katelyn Levering. Her voice is nice and clear, which is actually a big consideration for me as I am listening to audiobooks mostly while cleaning or doing other choires around the house. And everyone who does the same knows, that you can't hear someone who mumbles or has a deeper voice while you try to hoover or are scrubbing the bathtub😉The audiobook also had a nice length (8h 22m) and I could listen to it with 1,5x speed.

The plot was a nice story with a twist, which i saw coming from the first quarter of the book on, but it was still an engaging story. The end felt a little bit rushed to me and the pacing was a bit off (really slow pace in the beginning, LOTS of big stuff happening at the end), so that part was not my favourite. But I did like the characters and as well don't mind for my cleaning stories, when they are not top tier plotwise, as long as they keep me entertained somehow. This audiobook did just that!

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars from me for a nice little story
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The story itself is fun and engaging. The problem is in the repetitive nature of the writing. The author likes to state things again and again, multiple times, in triplicate. There is purple prose, and then there is whatever this is. I have never seen so many adjective and adverbs stacked up together. The heap is high, higher, highest. (Yes, that is a standard construction throughout this story.) The way the stories themselves weave together is lovely, even if the back third is a completely different tone. I could work with that if the writing itself wasn't so grating. The poor narrator is actually doing a fantastic job with the material here. She is a saving grace.
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A sincere thank you for providing me a copy of "The Waking Forest" in exchange for an honest review. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read this story and leave my review voluntarily
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We follow Rhea a young girl who suffers from nightmares, and a witch, who lives in a magical forest, who grants wishes to children. 
I really enjoyed the beginning it was well written and the narrator did a good job telling the story. But then halfway through I just started getting confused and I lost interest in the characters and story.
I really wanted to like this. The storyline seems like a story I would enjoy. I might try to listen to it again or read the book
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The Waking Forest is the story of Rhea and a forest witch. Ultimately, their two worlds collide and they must try to survive the truth, no matter how deadly it may be.

Gosh I wanted to like this book. I really did. Unfortunately I did not. I didn't much care for Rhea. The story was littered with purple prose that made it difficult to follow, especially considering the nature of the storytelling. In the end this was not the book for me.
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This book is told from the perspective of multiple characters and I was far more interested in the Witch's story than I was about Rhea's. The story was beautifully written, but a bit confusing and hard to follow at times.
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