The Butcher of the Forest
by Premee Mohamed
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Pub Date 27 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 04 Mar 2024
Tor Publishing Group, Tordotcom
"Exactly the kind of punishment we as readers deserve."—Hiron Ennes, author of Leech
A world-weary woman races against the clock to survive a deadly forest in this dark, otherworldly fairytale from Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author Premee Mohamed.
At the northern edge of a land ruled by a merciless foreign tyrant lies a wild, forbidden forest ruled by powerful magic.
Veris Thorn—the only one to ever enter the forest and survive—is forced to go back inside to retrieve tyrant's missing children. Inside await traps and trickery, ancient monsters, and hauntings of the past.
One day is all Veris is afforded. One misstep will cost everything.
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Average rating from 63 members
No one leaves the forest alive.
Veris wakes to a summoning from the castle with a message: locate the Tyrant’s children in the Elmever forest, or everyone she loves will die. As the only soul who has rescued someone from Elmever once before, she sets out again into the dark and magical land, knowing she tempts fate with each action.
Veris steps through hauntings, surviving with her keen sight through the forest’s facade. She meditates on keeping grounded as she confronts monsters and dark memories, things that propel her feet forward.
Rich and haunting, Mohamed’s story will stay with you long after the final page. You will race through the pages, frantically seeking what happens to Veris, Eleonor, and Aram as they face each dark foe in their effort to escape. And in the end, you, too, will want to be a little more like Veris.
This is a fairy tale, but one with more meat on the bones. It contains a brave protagonist, lost children, a cruel ruler, and a dark, dangerous forest. Premee Mohamed weaves a dreamlike narrative from these elements that is exciting, frightening, and very sad, but without becoming hopeless. The prose is lyrical and fits the fairy tale form. I absolutely loved it.
"The Butcher of the Forest" by Premee Mohamed is a haunting and atmospheric dark fairytale that plunges readers into a world of magic, danger, and ancient mysteries.
The story is set in a land under the oppressive rule of a foreign tyrant, where a forbidden and perilous forest lies at the northern edge. Veris Thorn, a world-weary woman with a mysterious past, is the only person known to have entered this forest and survived. When the tyrant's children go missing inside the forest, Veris is compelled to return to the treacherous woods to retrieve them.
Mohamed's storytelling is nothing short of mesmerizing. The prose is beautifully crafted, immersing readers in the eerie and enigmatic world of the forest. The author weaves an atmosphere of palpable tension and dread, making every step into the forest feel like a descent into the unknown.
Veris Thorn is a compelling protagonist, haunted by her past and driven by a fierce determination to survive and protect the children. Her complexity and resilience make her a character readers can readily invest in. The forest itself becomes a character, a malevolent force filled with ancient secrets and maleficent creatures that keep the tension high throughout the narrative.
The novella's brevity is one of its strengths, as it maintains a relentless pace, keeping readers engaged from beginning to end. Every sentence serves a purpose, and the story wastes no time in delivering its dark and eerie atmosphere.
"The Butcher of the Forest" is a masterclass in dark fantasy storytelling. Premee Mohamed skillfully combines elements of horror, fantasy, and fairytale to create a rich and immersive reading experience. This novella is a testament to the author's talent for crafting unforgettable and atmospheric tales. Fans of dark fantasy and those who appreciate stories with a sinister edge will find much to savor in this chilling and beautifully written work.