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Shadows of the Forest

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Everyone is dying to live in the Shadows of the Forest.
They gave me three rules to follow in exchange for my brother’s life:
1. Do not enter the West Wing;
2. Do not go outside after darkness falls; and
3. There is only one exit; The Gates.

This is what happened when I broke them…

144 pages

Published November 5, 2016

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Emma Michaels

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 84 reviews
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,230 reviews1,564 followers
March 11, 2017
When Lily awakens in a strange hospital with some injuries the only thing on her mind is her twin brother Cole and finding out if he is safe. The staff at the hospital give Lily a strange set of rules before allowing to see her brother who was unfortunately seriously injured.

The rules Lily must follow seem simple enough, 1. Do not enter the West Wing 2. Do not go outside after darkness falls and 3. There is only one exit, the gate she came in. But with her brother in a coma and Lily determined to save him she finds herself questioning what would happen if the rules were broken?

Shadows of the Forest is a fairly short fantasy novella read but unfortunately for me it really seemed longer than it was just due to losing interest fairly quickly in the story. The one point the author got across rather well was Lily's concern for her brother, this was repeated over and over again. However as with some novellas I felt other aspects were tossed in without many details and could have used more explanation.

The book felt as if it were trying to be a really complex fantasy read but on a fast pace due to it being short. This to me completely seemed to make the story a bit confusing and felt I lacked the chance to get attached to the story or characters. Unfortunately this story just wasn't for me in the end.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for Angelina.
108 reviews43 followers
January 11, 2017
Fist of all this book has an amazing cover, maybe it is not important for some people but at the end of the day if it is beautiful visually it is more likable to get picked up...

That's why I wanted but eventually the story is what stand out...

The main character was lovable and I really liked that the love for her brother is what made her to take risks and eventually discover what she really wanted from life. The world was beautiful, the descriptions really made me imagine the places...

The Forest was like wonderland, full of magic and color...

The end was bitter sweet but full filling. What more could I ask?
Profile Image for Sandra (LadyGrey Reads).
606 reviews90 followers
March 27, 2017
I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating: 1.5/5 stars

"My brother once said that each person has their own world after they die, a world after they die, a world where they can be everything they didn't have the chance to be in life. I think maybe this is mine."

This is one of those books that would have needed more pages to make me enjoy it as much as I thought it would. At the moment everything felt a bit flat and boring, the adventure itself was over in a flash and there was no really interesting piece of character development. I liked the romance, even though it felt a bit like insta-love, but it was interesting. Enough to make me give this an extra half star (Goodreads, I'm waiting for that to actually be a possibility).
Profile Image for Aoife.
1,334 reviews584 followers
January 11, 2017
DNF at 28%

This book follows a young woman called Lily who wakes up after a car accident in a strange hospital and she finds out her brother Cole is seriously injured. There are some strange rules regarding the place she is now in but she is prepared to break them to save her twin's life.

I DNF'd this at about 28% in as I knew I wasn't enjoying the book and if I had gone further I would have ended up skim-reading it. From the get go, this book seemed a bit all over the place with very little explanation with what was going on and I felt, as a reader, I was left in the dark while all sorts of crazy things seemed to happen. At no point did Lily seem to really question where she was or what was happening, she just wanted to be with her brother. But at no point did she take a moment to say,"all of this is a bit weird." And I didn't get that.

I also felt the writing in this just tried way too hard. Even the way Lily was talking was really unrealistic and I'm not sure why the author tried to stress her love and compassion for her brother so much. They're twins, the connection is there, the reader isn't stupid, let it be natural.

I just couldn't keep reading this knowing I would end up hating it and I didn't want to waste time skim reading it. One of my only resolutions for 2017 is to know when to DNF books I'm not enjoying so I'm following that rule early on now.
Profile Image for Emily.
560 reviews39 followers
January 21, 2017
After a terrible accident, Lily wakes up in a mysterious hospital with only glimpses of memories of what happened. She discovers her twin, Cole, is in a coma and is given a set of odd rules to follow during her stay. But one mystery leads to another even as her memories of the accident bring up more questions. What will happen if she breaks those rules?

Shadows of the Forest was a very interesting fantasy. It was not centered on a romance, like most teen fantasy I read these days. Rather, it focused on the unconditional love between the main character, Lily, and her twin brother, Cole. Each would give up their lives for the other, and they certainly both tried. Their love for each other was so beautiful to read about. And the adventure that Lily had when she tried to save her brother’s life was epic, mystical, and bizarre. I won’t be forgetting her marvelous journey anytime soon. This was also a story of a girl learning that she is worthwhile and deserves happiness, despite all the negative teachings her abusive father and neglectful mother instilled into her. Her spiritual journey was as awesome as the physical one. And did I mention the little bit of romance one the side? The one critique I had for this book was the ending. ***Slight Spoiler Alert!*** It was beautiful and terrible all at the same time. The love between the twins was almost magical, but something came along to separate them, and what Lily ultimately gave up for Cole broke my heart and made me cry. It was so sweet, but still! And the suggestion at the end that all of this was in Lily’s head made me really disappointed in this book. I mean, it’s fiction, so why couldn’t it be real? That part pretty much ruined the book for me, I’m afraid. ***Spoiler End***

Shadows of the Forest gave me a fresh perspective in the YA fantasy genre, so I truly enjoyed it. Though I have mixed feelings because of the ending, I would gladly recommend it to fans of the genre.

I received a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Lisa  (Bookworm Lisa).
2,216 reviews172 followers
December 31, 2016
There is something hauntingly beautiful about this book. It may have been the descriptions of the forest, or maybe that Lily had finally found peace? That is one thing that I loved about the book, the peace and beauty that was found in spite of the pain that propelled the scenes of this book.

At times the story seemed a little confusing. There is a lot of information given to the reader. Most of it is open for reader interpretation. (I did like that.) But it could have been set up a little better. Overall, this is a beautiful story that it steeped in ancient lore. It is not a simple book to be picked up and read quickly, but one to take your time with and let the deeper meanings take hold in your imagination.
Profile Image for Dóri.
120 reviews18 followers
February 26, 2017
I was approved for a review copy of this book after signing up through the review opportunities at Xpresso Book Tours. I am debating rating it, because I didn't get too far into the book.. not a fan. A more detailed review coming soon.

Honestly, I decided not to review this book, because someone has already written my thoughts down perfectly, so I'm going to link it here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Also, she has a blog, which you can check out.

However, I did decide to rate it, despite the fact that I dnf-d it at like 28%, because the reason I put it down for good is that it's a 1* book for me..
Profile Image for Dani N.
445 reviews61 followers
December 17, 2016
I admit that I was instantly drawn to Shadows of the Forest with its eye-catching cover and mysterious blurb. I also welcomed the the opportunity to review something lighter and standalone. When you read fantasy, most stories belong to a series, and lately I have struggled with commitment issues. Okay, maybe it is not such a new problem, but it was nice to be presented with something that seemed to offer a more instant sort of gratification.

Full review here.
Profile Image for Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads).
473 reviews30 followers
December 24, 2016
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, author and NetGalley for review*
While the cover is gorgeous and the premise sounds enticing, I was very let down by this book. I had to skim very large sections to even finish this book. I agree with a lot of people that this book was very hard to read.
The biggest problem was the writing style. I have seen this kind of overbearing, first person POV writing in many teenage fan fiction stories. The paragraphs are so thick with unnecessary detail that the writer either felt nervous that her story wouldn't have the full picture or something. Every single detail had so much focus on them that it made me roll my eyes. We get it that she's not sure where she is. We know she's trying to help her brother, but stop telling us on every single page! It was frustrating to read about a girl who very narrow minded, didn't stop to think about her situation and hardly changed at all. It was also weird to see Japanese names with the other characters. The beginning makes it seem like it's set somewhere similar to America, but that abruptly changed into a weird, flatly designed fantasy world.
This was also very confusing to read. Parts of the narrative focused on one subject, then the next page completely changed the subject and didn't clarify the previous subject. For example, at 12% into the book, we get a moment where the MC pulls the hospital curtain to the side to look at someone, and we get a situation of surprise. But we don't exactly know what we see; you don't get any clarification if she's seeing a dead body or anything. It's just a ridiculously long and choppy passage about her incoherent thoughts.
While that's not the only place where's problems, the writing is incoherent and the main character is among one of the most confusing perspectives I've ever read from. You can replace the names and places in this book with any anime fan fiction written by a 13 year old. I don't recommend this book. Sadly, the cover is very deceiving.
Profile Image for Cranky - The Book Curmudgeon.
2,091 reviews150 followers
January 26, 2017

*** 3.5 Cranky Stars ***

After tragedy upon tragedy, Lily wakes up in a mysterious hospital and is informed she's been involved in a terrible accident. Her twin brother, Cole, is in precarious health. Lily discovers he made a pact to save her and there begins her quest to return the favour.

The cover of this book is glorious. I enjoyed Michaels' writing style and her ability to tap into the vulnerability of a character as well as darkness. At the heart of this story is the love the twins have for one another and what they'd do to ensure the other would survive.

Part fable, but also, drawing on inspiration from older myths and legends, Lily's quest sees her encounter many figures from different cultures, including the mysterious Arro.

This is a clean read and I would recommend it for readers much younger than I am. I'd have no problem passing this book to pre and young teens to read.
Profile Image for Janie.
1,060 reviews117 followers
April 18, 2018
I was gifted an ebook via Netgalley.
DNF @ 29%

I was so confused as to what was going on. I kept having to go back pages and reread passages thinking I had missed something, when I hadn't. A third through this very short book and I honestly can't tell you any more than the twins were in an accident and there is some kind of spirit world. Oh, and their parents are dead and their dad abused them.
Profile Image for Brooke Banks.
937 reviews175 followers
January 15, 2017
I received a free copy by agreeing to post an honest review from Ebooks For Review.

Content Warning: Child Abuse, Murder, Piss-poor Representation of Abuse Survivors.

The cover is gorgeous and the blurb was intriguing. I didn’t get what I thought I would at all though. This isn’t what I expected and the descriptions didn’t live up to the mental images borne from the cover.

Shadow of the Forest began startling and initially had me curious. However, Lily quickly bugged me with her endless lamenting and damaging mantras. I had an abusive father, I understand the trauma but this felt like someone clueless laying it on thick for sympathy points and couldn’t incorporate a personality as well.

Her brother Cole is the other side to her coin with survivor's guilt. I bet this book would be 50 pages shorter if they didn’t endlessly repeat how Lily deserved a chance to live and Cole couldn’t do anything to protect her and Cole is so amazingly perfect deserves the best and blah, blah, blah.

Later, they finally understand why their mother stayed and what she did when their parents went into the woods. As if that wasn’t fucking obvious from the first time they mentioned it. And excuse me, that’s fucking awful solution in every way.

I’ve also been the mother in an abusive relationship with a child in the house. No fucking way she made that decision. She’d have been agonizing on how they’d survive and be okay. There would’ve been a plan in place for them in the aftermath. It’s fucking offensive and stupid that THIS was the first and only thing she did.

Fuck all of the survivor representation in this book. I severely doubt anyone did a sensitivity read for it.

Honestly, I’m surprised I made it 100 pages before starting to skip and skim. It was only the last 50 or so pages but I couldn’t take it any longer. The first 100 felt like 5 hundred and I wasn’t in the mood to torturing myself more. I deserve better.

I was tired of:
Knowing what was going to happen
All the repetition
The cliches and stereotypes
The ham-handed child abuse portrayal
The appropriation of Japanese myths

It’s a Princess Mononoke wannabe with shallow focus and uses a baseball bat to get its point across. There’s no subtlety, nuance or layers.

I read the epilogue to see if I was right about it all and I was. It’s supposed to be sweet and full of hope but felt cheap and meaningless, like an infomercial and an after school special had a child with Japanese style nursery.

Recommendation: Skip it. Not worth it, even if it’s free.
Profile Image for Yana.
157 reviews22 followers
January 7, 2017
3.5 stars
I received a free ebook review copy of this book but was under no obligation to post a positive review
Shadows of the Forest really is a difficult book to review. It was one of the more unique books I have read.
Like most of the books I read lately, I skimmed a few reviews before I started reading. I remember reading time and again that people did not like the writing style and expected to feel the same. However, from the beginning I found myself admiring it. I felt it was almost lyrical and compelling. Granted, the book could have used a little more editing because at times it did feel a bit repetitive; but for the most part, I found the writing to complement the atmosphere and "other-worldliness" feeling the story required.
I admit it did take some time for me to "get into" the story and understand the general idea behind it. But once I finished the book I understood that not everything was as it seemed. For about 90% of the book, I was sure I was reading some kind of high fantasy story; only to realize it was something different entirely- from my point of view at the very least.
I really wish I could give this book more than 3.5 stars, but there are a few too many shortcomings. First, there were too many moments where I felt I did not understand what was going on. Too many things happened very abruptly without a proper reasoning behind them or explanation.
Secondly, there were a few too many plot-holes and inconsistencies. For example,
Generally speaking, I think the Shadows of The Forest has a great potential to become a wonderful story about life, death, and love. I would have loved it if we could get to know Lily and Cole a little more before the events that occur at the beginning of the story; so we could dive into the magical events with a greater understanding/feeling of the bond and relationship the two share.
I think that the world building and pacing of the story could use some work too. for example, If the journey to find Usagi were to take little longer, we could have explored the forest more and learn about its rules and spirits more in depth and thus get a better understanding of both the world and the characters ().
I'd also like to point out that the ending was what really sold me on the story. It really was a heartfelt conclusion to an interesting read. Perhaps it could also explain some of the plot holes that bothered me while reading- maybe they were put there intentionally so as to not spoil the revelation of the last chapter and epilogue? I guess I'll never know ;)
I would definitely recommend reading Shadows of the Forest if you are interested in a magical, mystical, intriguing and heartfelt quick read.
Profile Image for Rivalie.
597 reviews43 followers
February 6, 2017
2.5-3 stars

I was hooked by the summary from the first time I came across it on the YA Bound Book Tours site. The cover is also absolutely breathtaking with all the different purple tone and the glass globe in the center.

Sadly, after finishing, I'm left at a bit of loss. Shadows of the Forest had a lot of potential with how unique the summary sounded and while there were definitely moments that were executed nicely, overall, I felt a bit disappointed with the story as whole.

We follow Lily after a car crash where she wakes up in a hospital and finds her twin brother Cole in a coma. She soon finds out that Cole made a pact to exchange his life for hers and she goes on a journey to find a way to reverse the pact. I feel like there were so many different plot points that could have been more developed but instead they were rushed.

As the entire novel comes out to only 174 pages, the entire plot goes by pretty quickly. My favorite part of the novel has to be the beautiful vivid descriptions of the Forest. It's definitely a place I would want to visit and just explore because the author gives so many little gifts. My only grip is that she mentions something in beautiful and then moves on.

Lily as a character that is a bit hard to connect to. I respect her morals and what drives her decisions but I just couldn't connect with her on a deeper level and that impacted my view of her. My favorite character has to be Willow. I loved that she has the ability to portray her emotions as colors across her skin, an ability inherited by her mother, but she was the most real and easiest to connect to. I did like her mother, Usagi, as well, but she just seemed to ethereal and heavenly.

Shadows of the Forest had so much potential and as a whole, I feel like the author only tapped into a bit of the that potential. Still, it's a very interesting premise and I did enjoy certain points of the story.

Originally Posted on Le Petit Photograph
Profile Image for Cassiopeia's Moon.
159 reviews16 followers
February 10, 2017
So, I finished this last night. It was...well, a disappointment.

This is a very short story, only about a 140 pages, and it still took me 2 weeks to read. My hopes were high, the synopsis made it sound really intriguing. I had hoped for a good, short read. What I got was a boring insight into the head of a boring girl.

This story could have been good, but the writing couldn't bring it out. The writing is too philosophical, and I was often left confused. The writing style just didn't explain a lot about what was going on, which was very frustrating in the first half of the book. Then the story became more stream lined, but sadly it couldn't be saved.

Boring character + Writing not at all to my taste = Disaster

However, I did, and still do, like the cover very much! It is such a beautiful piece of art, and that was what first drew me to the book.
Profile Image for RR.
100 reviews2 followers
February 6, 2017
I was really thrilled when I got aproved for the book on Netgalley because the synopsis promised a dystopian fantasy novel I was sure to love. But the synopsis told me the story of an entirely different book and that was sad and confusing at the same time.
The writing really disappointed me because I couldn't quiet understand half of the things that were going on because it was simply hard to understand what the sentence was trying to tell me. The book was less then 200 pages. It should have been possible to put some more effort into the editing.
This story is basically about relationship between Lilly and her twin brother, Cole. I felt like that was something really refreshing because I honestly don't read a lot of family stories but at times I felt like their relationship went deeper than it should...

I feel like Shadows of the Forest didn't quite reach its potential.
Profile Image for Eveline.
43 reviews29 followers
March 3, 2017
I like that the author used mythical aspects and the hook of the story is very interesting, but.. sadly, I didn’t really enjoy Shadows of the Forest - mainly because it was all Tell and no Show.

The entire book was basically a narration of what was happening and the main character was thinking. I never really got into the story, because the descriptions were very static and lacked depth. I also didn’t connect with any of the characters, they didn’t have any distinctive or memorable personalities. It was also hard to sympathize with the main character, Lily, because even though her motivation seems noble, her actions and thoughts make her come across as very self-absorbed, unlikable and just generally annoying.

Especially in fantasy and stories that rely on world building, it’s just so important to Show, Don’t Tell. There were so many missed opportunities to engage us, the readers, in this dreamlike world, and that’s such a pity. I hope that for her next novel the author will develop the world and characters more before writing, and possibly experiment with a more engaging writing style.

I received an advance reader copy from the publisher through Netgalley.
Profile Image for Stacie.
Author 13 books55 followers
January 21, 2017
Shadows of the Forest, by Emma Michaels, is a young adult fantasy. The protagonists are twins Lily and Cole, having lost their parents in an accident years ago - find themselves in danger, and then in a hospital that is filled with secrets - and three specific rules they are have been told not to break. Of course, within those rules lie the key to understanding what has happened to them.

While the narrative includes many details that give readers a sense of the strong relationship between the twins, the story takes a long time to develop and move the plot forward. Michaels is clearly interested in exploring the concept of an afterlife, and there are moments of introspection and beauty. Those moments, however, were not enough for me to feel completely satisfied with the book. While Shadows of the Forest has a gorgeous cover, and intriguing blurb - the story itself fell a bit short of my expectations. It will likely appeal to young fantasy fans, though, who are intrigued by dark mysteries.
Profile Image for ☆Stephanie☆.
342 reviews42 followers
February 5, 2017
Title: Shadows of the Forest
Author: Emma Michaels
Publisher: CHBB Publishing, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal

**I received a copy of this book free from Ebooksforreview.com and the publisher in exchange for a review**

This review can be found on my BlogTeacherofYA's Tumblr, or my Goodreads page

My Review:

So...this cover is gorgeous, right? Just super duper cover love?

Yeah...that's what I thought, too.

I HATE when the book inside doesn't match the book outside. But I signed up to review this book, and I was able to get through it, as it is shorter than most books (144 pages), but I have to admit, every page was a battle.

Let me first get into the plot...as best as I can understand it...and I can't give too much away because it's so short...

Lily wakes up in a hospital, and her twin brother is in critical condition. But things aren't normal in the hospital. There are rules that can't be broken. 

Do not enter the West Wing (which is never explained or mentioned again)
Do not go outside after darkness falls (yet another rule that really didn't apply)
There is only one exit, The Gates

So Lily remembers that there was an accident, and somehow her twin brother, the only person left in the world since her parents' deaths, made a pact to keep her alive. But Lily doesn't want to live without him. Cole is the good twin, the better twin, and he deserves a shot at life.

As Lily discovers, the "hospital" is not what it seems...actually, nothing is. Japanese folklore blends with Michaels' storytelling to make what could have been a wonderful story.

Alas, could have been.

Here's a trailer that will also explain about the same amount that I did. Makes it look all cool and mysterious.


Is It Classroom-Appropriate?


I mean, it is...but it needs a major editing job. More on that below.

Age Range:

Honestly, it could be okay for middle grade readers. The confusion from the story isn't age-related. It's mainly content-related. Again, I'll explain in the "End Result" portion, which will be much longer than usual. Normally I can talk about the premise and make some comments along the way...but with this short of a story, I really can't make comments there. So I'll end this now...and make this as painless as possible...the opposite of my reading experience.

End Result:

Ok. I should have known there was a problem when the author who listed the three "rules" seemed to confuse semicolons and commas. They were completely switched around in use. I think I have to blame EAL editing for this. The book was professionally edited, yet I found a monster amount of errors. Here I can FINALLY talk about this. 

First, I fault this company for the shoddy editing...it wasn't bad enough to DNF (ahem, Slumber, ahem), but it was bad enough that I started highlighting the problems (and this was NOT an ARC):

"Some part of me argued that I didn’t want to be go."
"I placed my hand over my heart and pled with it to lead me to him."

"Tricksters spirit, huh? Alright."

"As though the forest were holding my emotions, my body, and my very soul at its entrance, testing my resolve." (Frag)

"Even knowing he was only holding his own tempter..." 

"I could feel the hart move it’s forehead to mine." (Not possessive)

"I liked what I saw and I wasn’t not sure..."

"I miss stepped..."

"...but I couldn’t quiet grab the map."

Get the idea??

That wasn't it. I can ignore those things if the story is good. But the book was weird. It wasn't horrible...but it was confusing. Too short in some parts, too long in others. The story had a good message, and I don't think telling you that the father was abusive will spoil the story...so there was a lot about loving yourself and feeling worthy. I even began to tear up at one part...but then it went on and on and on...how does a 144 page book feel long during certain parts? It needed more exposition and way less ending.

It's a shame, I know. The idea and the story had potential all over the place, but alas, that's all it had. And this is hard for me to write. I hate bad reviews. I really do.

So the end result?

I give Shadows of the Forest ★★☆☆☆. One for the story and one for being able to read it (and I'll always love the cover).

So it gets:

Luckily, right after I read another book from ebooksforreview and it was MUCH better. Happy to read that one. But when it comes to Shadows of the Forest, I recommend skipping reading it and just appreciate the pretty cover.

Cause the cover is pretty. Such a shame...

Happy Reading, y'all!! This is my first Beat The Backlist Book! I'll be making a post about the challenge, as I'm participating in Beat The Backlist and the Netgalley/Edelweiss challenge, and I have two books toward that challenge! Yay!

Profile Image for Jordan.
686 reviews35 followers
December 6, 2016
Unfortunately, I DNF'd this at 26%. The premise was fantastic. I loved the fable aspect that crept in suggesting a magic that would ultimately change the main character's fate. The story was rife with telling. I longed for description. The pacing sputtered and glossed over scenes that should have been extended to fully comprehend the situation and get the emotions, but instead it moved from scene to scene without enough time to process. The synopsis makes the story seem more dramatic than it actually is and the main character is so self-deprecating it's hard to like her, despite her terrible history of abuse.
Profile Image for zoë ❅ (fallxnrobin).
93 reviews19 followers
Shelved as 'dropped'
January 15, 2017
DNF @ 22%

I used to think that a vague summary was a good thing as it doesn't give away much about the book's plot so there's much room for plot twists and surprises. However, there's also room for much misconception and confusion.

The summary mentions this place called the “Shadows of the Forest”, which I expected to be some mythical land that is seen as some sort of paradise but instead the only setting in the book seems to be a hospital surrounded by a forest. So I went and input that phrase into the search function on my Kindle, but there wasn't anything that was called “Shadows of the Forest”. Instead, the phrase seemed to be used as a metaphor or description.

The book immediately throws you into the story, which starts with Lily and her brother Cole in an accident before the scene changes to Lily waking up in a hospital. However, before the first chapter, there was apparently a preface, a totally forgettable one because I just couldn't make the connection between it and the story. I did get a brief feel of the writing quality from the preface though and it certainly did not help raise my hopes for this book. There was a sort of lyrical quality to it but it kinda bordered on “trying too hard”.

However, the biggest problem with this book was the characters. I think I would've been able to sit through the entire book if there was a character or two that I liked but that's the problem―there were none. They lacked substance and I couldn't find a single thing about any of them that I liked.

My first impression of Lily was that she was emotionless. For the 20% that I read, there was nothing she cared about but saving her brother because she believes that his life holds more worth than hers or something. She doesn't even question the extremely suspicious hospital she resides in and its rules. Her chill-ness is on a really unrealistic level, like “I can sense that there are some secrets hidden in this hospital but idgaf because I gotta save my brother. Oh a shapeshifting fox and spirits exist as well? That's cool but hey do you know how to save my bro?” I wonder if she's actually soulless.

Then there are other characters such as the doctor and his daughter being introduced but we barely get to know them before more characters are being brought in like the mom and the shapeshifting fox whose name is Arro and I just gave up after that.

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Profile Image for Books 2 Blog.
1,494 reviews17 followers
March 14, 2017
I just finished this and I feel so....ahhh!! I don't know, I don't know what to think. So reading the blurb and reading the book is almost like two totally different things. I think I was expecting something completely different. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just different. I was definitely intrigued enough to keep reading this and it was a fairly quickly read, quite different than what I've read. It has a Japanese folklorish background, afterlife, and other worldly aspects.

At times I felt like Lily and Cole's relationship was kind of odd, it felt more like a romantic relationship at times versus a sibling one. Now I know they say twins have a different type of bond, so maybe that's all it was, but sometimes it was just weird. Also, I felt like Lily was whining after awhile, and it got to be annoying. While I loved Arro, I wish there would've been more on him. You do get his story, but I wish there was more interaction between him and Lily to build up whatever is between them. They call him a trickster and tell Lily not to trust him, but I feel like he was quite the opposite. Plus he never portrayed any trickster type actions, the only thing connecting him to being sly is that he was born a fox.

All in all, I think the story was quite intriguing, it has many elements of mystery and suspense and an interesting take on rebirth and the afterlife. What I took from the story is, a lost girl trying to find herself, and she tears herself down a lot, but through this spiritual journey, she grows and her perspective on life & death changes. She learns to love herself and finally frees herself from her own personal demons. This was definitely a different read than I'm used to, but enjoyable none the less.
Profile Image for Heather.
208 reviews55 followers
February 5, 2017
This book is so...weird.
It starts out with a girl being taken to a hospital after a car crash and her brother is badly injured and on the verge of dying. But then it quickly spins out of control into a big mess of forced fantasy and spiritual realms. I won't go into specifics because that'll "spoil" the big plot twists even though they're somewhat predictable. So here's a list of things I couldn't stand about the characters and writing.
This main character is so annoying! She constantly changes her mood from hating herself and wishing she could die in her brother's place to hating her brother for being the one dying instead. She acts dismissive to everyone yet at the end everyone acts as if she was the best person they have ever known. But she only talked to them in condescending tones a random few times. And don't get me started about this romance the main character has with this guy who is actually described as hating her more than anyone or thing else in the world. But then they end up loving each other so passionately in a matter on 48ish hours? Also, it seems like she loves her brother more than this guy. She talks about how much she loves her brother and how he would always be there for her and that they are one because they are twins.
This book is just really, really weird
Profile Image for Jasmine.
979 reviews83 followers
February 6, 2017
DNF @ 41%

I really wanted to like this book. I truly did. Unfortunately, it was just too hard to get through. Before I get into that, let me mention what I did like.

The cover is beautiful, first off. It definitely caught my eye and made me curious. The synopsis of the story was also intriguing and made me want to read the book. Those are the only two things I did like about it, though.

This book is really difficult to read. There are so many editing errors, and I wasn't quite sure where the story planned to go because the plot was a bit jumbled and felt rushed. There were sentence fragments, missing/wrong punctuation, and other issues. I just couldn't seem to get through it at all, so I had to give up. Makes me sad, since I really did want to like and enjoy this book.

I have to give Shadows of the Forest 2 stars. The only reason I didn't give 1 star is because the cover and blurb are really nice. The rest of the book, though, could use a serious overhaul.
Profile Image for Jessie Seymour.
307 reviews25 followers
May 11, 2017
***I received and ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***

I gave this book 3 stars. I thought it was so very creative and adventurous. It was weird in a good way and I enjoyed reading it.

I wish this book had gotten into the setting more, explained this magical world. I was a bit confused by some things that were happening in the book.

I liked Arro. Him and lily were really cute and a bit unexpected at first. I didn’t think it would happen, but seeing them around each other made me like the idea more and more.

The relationship between the siblings was a very important part of the story and I think it really shined through. I could appreciate everything Lily was willing to do to protect her brother.

The character development in the story was also well done, I felt like I grew with the main character.

Overall, not bad. It was a quick and easy read and I didn’t have any huge problems with it.
Profile Image for Sarah1983.
186 reviews4 followers
August 25, 2017
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Unfortunately I really didn't enjoy this book. It sounded intriguing from the description but it really failed to live up to it for me. Perhaps if it had been longer and less rushed it would have done so but as it was so short it just seemed choppy. Things weren't explained, details were skimpy and the whole thing just seemed repetitive. Over and over and over again we're told how much Lily cares for her brother Cole, how weak she is, how strong he is. We get it. Really, we do. And that actually seemed to be all there was to Lily, that love for her brother. She was boring. The other characters were just as two dimensional.

I think the story has potential, I just think the book is way too short to do it justice personally.
Profile Image for Samantha.
159 reviews6 followers
February 6, 2017
What drew me to this book was the premise and the cover, lets be honest its gorgeous! I have never heard of Emma Michaels before, so I thought I would give her a shot. It was definitely not what I thought it was and for a 144 page book, it seemed to drag on in some places making it seem much longer.

This book is heavily influenced by Lily's abuse from her father growing up, and how she is dealing with it now that her parents are dead. This would have been fine if it didn't define all of Lily's actions for the first half of the book. In the beginning it's understandable how her past would define her, I get it, but for it to continue for half the book and then all of a sudden she's over it it doesn't make sense. There was no character development whatsoever, one minute she was "don't touch me" and the next she was all over Arro (or whatever his name is, I don't remember anymore =/).
I liked that Lily wanted to make sure that her brother lives and that she would do anything for him. It's understandable that she has no idea where she is and that she keeps getting information at each new step instead of all at once. What would have been better for the book is if we weren't reminded of it on every single page. Not only is this the driving force of the plot, it is also very confusing. Mainly because we will be in one scene where we get confusing descriptions and half sentences, and then next will be a flashback. Nothing is ever explained coherently or in an order that makes sense. There was a heavy mix of Japanese folklore in this, and unfortunately I don't know enough to know if it was done properly.

Overall, this book needs a major edit overhaul. The way it is now, I wouldn't suggest reading it. Just enjoy the cover and go enjoy another YA fantasy book.
Profile Image for Dee/ bookworm.
1,359 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2017
A+ on cover. It is so beautifully done!

Shadows of the Forest by Emma Michaels gives readers a new take on life, death and purgatory. She draws attention to a special bond between fraternal twins (brother and sister, in this case).
While the first part of this book went off without a hitch and was very exciting, about 20% into the book you get assaulted with more and more details, some of which are not important, and the book becomes more of a chore to read.
I think if the author went through it again and ironed out some things the reading experience would be greatly improved.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for a fair review.
Profile Image for Becky Price.
664 reviews42 followers
February 10, 2017
I really enjoyed this story. It was different and refreshing ,and I really enjoyed the characters and their stories. The one thing that was missing was just more details. I couldn't fully wrap my head around how some of the places and characters were supposed to look, and I also wish there was more time devoted to Lily's past. I wanted to know more about her family life, how her dad was, and more importantly: more details on their passing. I really don't think I understood how exactly they died. I understand what the rest of the town thinks happened, but I don't think I understood the truth. It was a little vague for me.
168 reviews2 followers
January 15, 2017
Shadows of the Forest is a unique read that incorporates Japanese Mythology about the afterlife with very other-wordly prose. As many other reviewers have said, the book is very unique and did take a while to get into. I did find myself enjoying the mythological characters, but I had a hard time connecting to the human characters.

I did find the book a bit confusing. It could use more editing to weed out some of the repetitive parts.
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