The Butcher of the Forest

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Pub Date Feb 27 2024 | Archive Date Mar 04 2024


"A perfect mix of horror and fantasy."—The New York Times

“The Butcher of the Forest” shows exactly why Mohamed is one of fantasy’s rising stars."—The Washington Post

"The Grimm brothers can’t hold a candle to Premee Mohamed and her fever dream of a fantasy novella."—Polygon

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 the 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.

"A perfect mix of horror and fantasy."—The New York Times

“The Butcher of the Forest” shows exactly why Mohamed is one of fantasy’s rising stars."—The Washington Post

"The Grimm brothers can’t hold a...

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ISBN 9781250881786
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Featured Reviews

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.

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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.

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"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.

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Thank you NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for this digital ARC copy.

If you are a fan of Nettle and Bone or Juniper and Thorne, then you will love this story. It is a fast-paced and story set in dangerous and magical (not the fun kind) gothic woods where nothing is as it seems, and dangers lurk around every corner.

This Cozy Horror is perfect for the fans of Folklore, Cryptids, Faeries, and the Fae (not the cool sexy kind) then you will love this world. All rules still apply, don't give them your name, don't eat the food, and don't fall for their tricks or you will be trapped forever. Stay out of faery rings!

Though it is a short story it is not one that you can just power through, the sentence structure is lyrical and almost like reading poetry. I took several breaks to really absorb the story, sometimes rereading paragraphs multiple times to fully absorb the descriptions and story. The sentences are long, with a lot of commas and descriptors and it took me a few chapters to get used to the style of writing, but I have to say that this story could not have been written as well without it.

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I loved this short, straight to the point fairy tale. It was certainly dark, but I was immediately transported to the land and felt like the writing pulled me directly into our protagonists story.

Veris lives in a land run by a terrible Tyrant. The Tyrant’s children have disappeared in the nearby dark forest, which no one has ever come out alive from, except for Veris. The Tyrant sends her into the forest to retrieve his children, or he will kill her entire village. There is also little hope she will retrieve the children in the 24 hours they have before they become a permanent part of the forest, so the heat is on as they say.

Since the story is so short, you don’t get a lot of time to get into Veris as a character, or why or really any of the motivations of the characters aside form Veris, but you do get a vivid imaginary world built and you can feel the dread immediately in the first few pages. I don’t want to give anything away, but I truly enjoyed being in this world (only as an observer!) And would not mind a sequel if the author wants to do one. In this short story, she raises some very valid questions about the kingdom’s future and it would be interesting to see another perspective. Highly recommend!

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What a beautiful tale of sacrifice and morality.

Veris, an unlikely and unwanted hero whose determination to do right by innocence was as awe-inspiring as it was heartbreaking. One day she's thrown back into the woods by the Tyrant. The same woods she so many years ago, barely escaped. From there its a race against time to fulfill the Tyrant's request.

From the beginning, you're thrown into a high-stakes world. Throughout the entire reading experience, Veris' fear, her weariness, her hatred at being thrust back into the woods she never wanted to return to, is felt word by word, page by page. The writing style reminded me of Tolkein in its poetic and flowery narrative, but that didn't hinder my reading experience--though it may affect others unfamiliar with this poetic flow.

While I wish the end wasn't as abrupt as it was, I appreciate the conclusion we came to. So much was placed between the lines, which fell in place with the ending, and I can appreciate that.

The Butcher of the Forest will scratch the itch of those who want a fast-paced fairytale meshed with nightmarish horror-like themes that isn't about the princess getting the prince, but an unlikely hero fighting to survive when all the odds are stacked against her.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Tor for access to this digital ARC in return for my honest review.

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Welcome to Elmever forest, where no one is supposed to go and no one ever gets to leave.

“The Butcher of the Forest” by Premee Mohamed is a haunting, atmospheric fairytale novella that plunges through ancient wood and never once takes a breath to make sure you’re going the right way. We are introduced to Veris, a woman with mysteries, who is summoned to the Tyrant’s court. As the only known person to have entered Elmever forest and returned alive she is tasked in rescuing the Tyran’ts two children who have gone missing. If she fails everyone she loves will die.

Rich and full of magic I loved every part of this novella. The forest is brutal and full of deadly rules and bargains and creatures from your nightmares. If you make the slightest error, you feel absolute dread that it will claim you if you don’t remain focused. Veris was a wonderful character and we slowly peel back the layers to unravel her mysteries. The ending only felt slightly rushed, and I would have loved to learn even more about the forest’s creation and the outer world we only got a peek at, but as a self-contained story everything was superb. If you like your fantasy dark and slightly sinister, this will be for you. Premee Mohamed’s writing is exquisite.

Thank you TOR and Netgalley for sending me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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