The Forest God
by Jamie Lackey
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Pub Date 05 Jun 2020 | Archive Date 25 Oct 2022
The Forest God, incarnated into the body of hare, ready to die and live again.
The Apprentice Witch, outcast and unwanted, unsure of her path.
The Young Lord, frivolous and rootless, inconsiderate of his duties.
Their three souls should be bound to a cycle of death and sacrifice, responsibility and rebirth. But the bonds lie broken and shrouded in mystery. The wood remains in precarious balance for now, but the village withers.
Only together, can they set things right.
A Note From the Publisher
"Jamie Lackey takes familiar fairytale elements and leads the reader into roads less traveled. In place of the familiar turns of a fairytale, she offers something truer, something heartfelt. Yet even when the story reaches a hard place, there is a gentleness to how Lackey tells it. The further I went, the more I cared about her characters. Highly recommended." Mary Soon Lee, Elgin and Rhysling Award winning author of The Sign of the Dragon
"The Forest God is a fast-paced novella that is at once comic and heartfelt. Its engaging characters, droll tone, and subversion of fantasy tropes made it a delight to read." Lisbeth Campbell, author of The Vanished Queen
Average rating from 36 members
I received an e-book ARC of The Forest God from NetGalley and Air and Nothingness Press in return for my honest review, which follows below. I thank both for this opportunity.
I finished this in one sitting, partly because novellas are good for quick reads by definition but also because I was swept up by this seemingly simple but incredibly moving story. I wanted to finish so I knew how it ended, but I was mourning it because well, it would be over and there would be no more words to this story. I will admit this had me bawling my eyes out for most of the second half, a sign of a good author in my humble opinion. Tears can fall for many reasons over the course of a good tale, and I feel like I cried most of them. To be that connected to characters over a short novella is a bittersweet read indeed.
So without giving away spoilers, because this is just a beautiful read and I would hate to steal any magical discovery from the next reader on purpose, this is what I can tell you about The Forest God.
The Forest God has his life cycle in the forest as a different creature each time, sometimes he will be a hunter,sometimes prey, this time he is a hare. There is a Witch that lives in the forest and takes care of the nearby village and also communes with the Forest God, serving both as healer and apothecary. There is a Lord of the land that rules the village and makes sure the rituals required for the village to prosper is carried out. The title is approved by the Forest God.
The Forest God is wounded but not killed. The Witch's apprentice is the first to speak to the Forest God in many lifetimes. The Lord's son realizes he needs to become tied to the land to right an old grievance.
This would be a good book to read to children as well I think. It teaches responsibility and the love it takes to do whats right. It does not shy away from the fact that hard decisions are sometimes the only ones to make. But it is a beautiful story and I feel better for having read it. Every part of this was just a joy to read, I am just so thrilled by it.
I gave this 5 stars because I am going to recommend this to people, I would also give this as a gift. I would love to buy a copy when this is released. b
What a simple, yet wonderful short story. Never have I ever felt so connected to the characters in so few pages. I didn't want to put it down. Jamie Lackey clearly has a talent and I'd like to see this story continue. I hope this book will eventually be published in a physical form, I'd love to have a copy on my bookshelf.
Thank you, Netgalley and the publisher, for providing an e-arc for me to read!
The Forest God follows three characters:
Margery is a half-Witch: she's been apprenticing with the village's Witch for fifteen years now. Soon, she will take her vows and with it, the Witch's place. She's ready. The way she left fifteen years ago, she severed all connections to the village except for her sister.
We also meet the Young Lord Hugh, who wants to get to the end of a little mystery concerning his family.. and ends up shooting the Forest God, who is currently taking the form of a fluffy hare. With this, the trio's lives intertwine and the two mortals must choose between their duties to the land and their hearts' desire.
I loved this one!
It was kind of a surprise when I checked and saw that this was only about 80 pages. I had some free time and dove in.
I read this in one sitting, haven't once thought about putting it down.
Forest, wood, god, green man, these are all buzzwords for me. This read pretty much like a fairytale.
The only thing I was on the fence with is the representation of "ugliness". It felt weird and overly exaggerated to me, but I can kind of see the point and as I said, it read like a fairytale and we know that those are not always the most considerate.
However, it still meant a lot to me, and I would absolutely love to see similar stories!
I devoured this novella in one sitting. Partially because it is a novella and partially because I was swept up in this simple, but beautiful story. Nothing is overdone in this novella. It isn’t too lean or too heavy in certain areas. It was crafted with precision, so even though I greatly enjoyed the story, I was very satisfied with the ending. I don’t need it to be extended or changed in any way. However, because it is so short I don’t want to say too much about the plot and give anything away.
I also grew attached to the characters and their cozy setting rather quickly. While they all banter back and forth, they grow closer together and learn lessons about responsibility, love, and how what we may view as our greatest weakness may be our biggest strength. These are good lessons for people of any age to learn and I like the fact that it doesn’t shy away from the idea that sometimes it is necessary to make a hard decision. There are situations in life where we won’t get what we want because of our responsibilities.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and author Jamie Lackey for providing me with an ARC of The Forest God!
WOW! This novella was such a treat to read. I sat down to start it, and ended up finishing it. As a practicing Wiccan, the synopsis of this one sold me right away. Following The Forest God throughout his life cycle in the forest tugged on my heartstrings. He is sometimes hunter, sometimes prey. This was a beautiful story about love and responsibility, and sometimes having to make really hard decisions. I recommend this to anyone that needs a light and quick read that will also leave you thinking.
Thank you again to those named above for the chance to read and review this ARC!
Such a special story. The Forest God is so driven by the forces of nature and it’s so ethereal that reading it felt like listening to a playlist featuring Florence + The Machine, Hozier and Aurora. Besides the whole tone of the story I also appreciated the length. It could very easily have been dragged out as a full novel, but I thought it was exactly right and just perfect!
A simple yet beautifully evoked novella charting the life of The Forest God who is intimately tied to all the life of the forest. It was completely its own story but some of the themes reminded me of Joanne Harris' Pocketful of Crows. I loved this and was left with a strange sense of bittersweet satisfaction for a long time afterwards.
What seems on the surface to be an extremely simple story actually turns out to be deeper and very touching.
What I liked:
I have a soft spot for hares, and I couldn't help but pick this up once I saw it involved a hare in such a main role. I was not disappointed as there were plenty of descriptions surrounding the Forest God in this form.
The characters are easy to connect to and their relationships are fleshed out more than you'd expect for such a short piece of fiction.
What I didn't like:
Honestly, I can't think of anything I'd change about this. There was maybe one character that seemed more like an afterthought, but other than that this was just a good short read.
This is excellent and packs a lot into a short book. The author created excellent characters and put them in a moving tale with no superfluous words. Well done and recommended. I look forward to her next work!
Thanks very much for the review copy!!
The depth of character and emotion packed in this short read is nothing less than amazing. I was instantly pulled into the world this bittersweet fable takes place in, feeling for the half-witch with a care that would only growth as she evolves with the unfolding of the story.
Alongside of her, a young lord and forest god are also on paths of self discovery wrapped in duty. It was truly stunning how much lore and world building took place. There wasn't a word wasted, and yet the prose was beautiful and created a hauntingly charming setting. If I'm being honest, there were places that wrung out my emotions and that end had me a bit teary.
This is probably my biggest surprise of the year so far! I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book and ended up completely falling in love with it. The book is very much structured in the way of a folktale. We follow a young prince, an apprentice witch and a god of the forest that has been newly reincarnated in the body of a hare, as their paths one day come to cross. I can’t say too much because the book is actually quite short, but I absolutely loved the story. It’s full of magic and tenderness and I really enjoyed the relationships that develop between the characters. The book was at times also really funny and wholesome, and honestly made me so happy. There is also romance in this book and I really enjoyed that as well. The romance was done so well and I actually found myself getting a little teary-eyed at the end. If you enjoy stories inspired by fairy tales and folktales and you like your stories with a dash of humour and romance, then you’ll really enjoy this book.
*Review includes spoilers*
This story, told in the way of a fairy tale, is enchanting! It's simple yet emotional, innocent yet real (the repetition of death and loss as much a part of nature as life and love).
As important as the love story between Margery and High is, I greatly appreciated how innocent it was; I enjoy varying types of romance in stories, but have been rather irritated lately with how so many books deal with only a small fraction of love (focusing on physical beauty, sexual attraction, and oftentimes toxic "love"). There's very little focus on strong platonic love, familial love, non-sexual love, etc. Everything always boils down to "this person's hot, we must bone". But not in The Forest God, thankfully! I very much appreciated how it handled this innocent type of love.
Another thing I found myself liking was how the parental figures were portrayed. In fairy tales, parents/guardians are most often absent, neglectful, or downright abusive. Not the case here. Every one of them certainly makes mistakes, but they don't come from a place of malice. They did what they thought was right and would lead to a better life for their children, which I think (hope) every parent wants. They're flawed, yes, but their intentions are understandable and, for the most part, good.
I truly loved how protective the Forest God was of Margery mere minutes after meeting her. I can't fully articulate why, but it struck a chord in me that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Those looking for a "happily ever after" may be disappointed, but I think they miss the point that the story very clearly laid out: people can love each other without being together as a couple, and there are types of love that are more important than getting two people to bone. I loved the ending and thought it very appropriate and sweet. I'd love to read more about these characters if the author would ever be inclined to continue.
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. This was a beautiful story. I absolutely loved it. I am looking forward to buying the actual hardcover book when it comes out to add to my collection. I love anything to do with Celtic mythology. Highly recommended.
A fairytale that delves into the concept of duty, love, and the Ancient Celtic tradition of marriage of the land. This short novella explores its characters and their dynamics very well for 80 pages only. The narration of a God adds a unique touch to the story, and its character arc – a god's humanisation – was something deeply interesting to see. As was its counterpart: a human's sanctification.
We have a set of amazing characters: Margery, Hugh and the Forest God are not lacking a single thing. They are well developed, with complex personalities and all three of them have a different voice.
And such amazing personalities they all have! But that’s not all! We also see personal growth. For all three of them. In less than 100 pages! Isn’t it great?? And in those few pages we really learn to know our characters, and it is heartwarming to see them all grow up, in a way or another.
This story is set in a little world, almost intimate, which is bounded to the Forest God and the cycles of nature. People kept to the old ways, but they are slowly forgetting them and this is not a good thing. The Earth is suffering for it, and the small village is suffering for it, too. And even if, on an objective side, the world-building is not the most complete or accurate, it is not lacking. Sure, we don’t have a big world to explore, and sure there aren’t many descriptive parts, but… But you get all that you need to imagine this village, this forest and this world. You get the feeling of the small village, and of the forest. You feel like you really know those places.
And then we have the story. It is compelling, it is beautiful and it speaks to us in a lot of different ways. It was a heartwarming book, one that made you more optimistic, at least for a bit. And something like that is really precious!
Also, it was really really fun, and it remembered me a little of Pratchett, in the best possible way!
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