On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister Morgunn is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls.
Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known and joins a shaven-headed druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword. On their travels, Torvi and her companions will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death. . .
Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.
Expected publication date: March 31st 2020
*I was sent a kindle edition / ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Seven Endless Forests is an imaginative and gorgeously written story set in the same verse as Tucholke’s previous novel, The Boneless Mercies. While that book left me with mixed feelings, this novel worked so much better for me and it was such an enjoyable reading experience.
The novel follows Torvi and her younger sister Morgunn, as they try and deal with their new normal after their mother and the rest of their household, pass away at the hands of a devastating plague. While one threat has just passed, a new one comes to their door, in the form of a wild band of Wolf priests, led by the fearsome Uther. When Morgunn is taken, Torvi will do anything to find her sister again, embarking on a rescue mission, which turns rapidly into an incredible adventure where magic, lost riches, friendship and love awaits…
One of my favourite things about this book was the incredible world building. While there definitely are a lot of names, places, and terms in the novel, I loved how well realised and how immersive it was. In particular I liked the concept of the seven forests, with their own specific legends and bands of different travellers with their own codes of honour, history and stories. All the lore worked seamlessly together to form an impressive tapestry. The novel features some references to existing Norse mythology as well as Arthurian legend but there is plenty which is all uniquely Tucholke’s own. I also enjoyed the fact that there was a quest element to the book which felt very reminiscent of classic high fantasy, very Lord of the Rings-esque and I am so here for it.
As well as the world building, I thought the characters were interesting and the theme of friendship as well as finding your own path was brilliant. I found Torvi to be a great protagonist and the biggest reason for me was that she’s not the archetypal hero in many ways. Reading her progression and finding herself as well as forming a family with individuals who believe in her was so satisfying. This is made even more impactful due to the fact that Torvi was told her entire life, that she wasn’t destined for greatness or adventure, like her sister Morgunn, whom her mother favoured. The secondary characters are intriguing and add a lot to the story, I especially loved the little family that Torvi forms with Gyda, Madoc, Stefan and Ink.
One thing I will mention is that this book is more about the journey and the growth of the characters than shocking twists and turns or even the end destination. I feel like it’s more concerned with telling an interesting story, which is successfully done, but if you’re looking for something a bit more fast paced or more cut and dry in a sense, this may not be the book for you. I feel like this has a traditional, fairy tales of yore sort of vibe, there’s loose ends and feels melancholy at times but it just contributes to the overall tone so well.
Overall, Seven Endless Forests is an enjoyable addition to the Y/A fantasy genre and I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoy quest driven stories, with strong supporting characters and atmospheric writing and world building.
Until next time,