Rin has spent her entire life living in the Forest with her family. Then the trees, which have always spoken to her, grow silent, leaving her wracked with guilt and uncertainty. She believes this to be connected to a mistake she made, one so horrible that she cannot even bring herself to think about it. Feeling a need to escape, Rin travels with her brother Razo to the city to work for the Queen. Then the country of Bayern falls under attack. Rin finds herself following “The Fire Sisters,” Queen Isi, Enna, and Dasha to determine the cause. Can The Fire Sisters face the truth behind the attack and can Rin face the truth about herself?
Forest Born is the fourth book in Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern Series, which began with The Goose Girl. It’s been quite a while since I read the third book, River Secrets, but I found the series to be very easy to get back into. Shannon Hale is a talented writer and there are some moments in this book that are really beautifully written. Granted, I don’t think Forrest Born is as good as earlier books in the series. Although Rin is quite likable, at first she doesn’t seem a strong enough character to lead the book as its protagonist. In fact, until she faces the truth behind her mistake and the book begins to deal with her own issues in full, she feels very pushed into the background, as Isi, Enna, and Dasha feel more worthy of the readers attention. It’s important to note that I don’t feel as if Rin is a poor character. In fact her journey is really interesting to watch. It’s one that I think teenagers, who are probably also struggling to find themselves, will connect well with. It’s just that what got me the most excited about this book was often it’s other elements.
I’m not sure if Forest Born is the final volume in The Books of Bayern Series, but this wouldn’t be a bad place to end it, as Hale does a wonderful job pulling in elements from the first three books and resolving them all in a satisfying way. I think my favorite part of the book was getting to revisit the characters that I first fell in love with while reading The Goose Girl several years ago, and see how much they’ve grown. I also really liked the fact that there was less of an emphasis on romance in this book. Yes, I enjoyed the love story elements in the first three books, but it’s a nice change given the high emphasis on romance in young adult fiction.
Although I couldn’t help but feel as if Rin was not as strong as a protagonist as Isi, Enna, or Razo, I did end up finding a lot to like in Forest Born. I would recommend it for fans of the series.
Rating: four stars
Length: 389 pages
Other books I've read by this author: The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, Austenland, Midnight in Austenland, Book of a Thousand Days, Rapunzel’s Revenge, Calamity Jack
Next I will be reviewing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Graham-Smith and Mercy Thompson: Moon Called Volume 1 by Patricia Briggs (Graphic Novel version)
xposted to temporaryworlds, goodreads, and bookish