Book Review: Sorrow’s Forest, Kaitlin Corvus

Book Review: Sorrow’s Forest, Kaitlin Corvus

Sorrow’s Forest, Kaitlin Corvus

Fantasy: Sorrow’s Forest, Kaitlin Corvus


A boy, on a dare, enters the forest. Everyone knows that the forest is haunted. Evil. Full of spirits that do not want humans inside. People regularly die after entering the forest. Stories are told of the things seen at its edge. But 12-year old Mackie, being dared by his older friends and neighbors, is more afraid of their opinions than he is of his own life. So he enters the forest.


Mackie is spooked by the shadows he sees. Glimpses of unknown creatures catch his eye before they disappear. Ominous sounds surround him. Even the tree roots and vines seem to be intentionally tripping him.


Then a path appears, leading him to a boy who looks to be about his own age. This boy takes Mackie’s hand, leads him back out of the forest to the other kids, and they all seem to know him. Mackie’s own mother comes out of the house to let her BOYS know that supper is ready. And just like that, Blue is ensconced in the King’s family.


But things are not supposed to enter the forest. And things are not supposed to leave the forest. And years later, after the kids become young adults, the Queen of the Forest begins to awaken.


She wants her own back.


On its surface, Sorrow’s Forest is a modern fairy tale, an updated horror story moved into a modern setting with all the typical tropes of a dark and forbidding forest bringing only danger and death to the humans daring to live in its shadow. But it’s unfair to judge traditional fairy tales by those simplistic standards and it’s equally unfair to use them on this one.


Forests and humans have long had a complex relationship. If we evolved on the savannas of Africa, then our ancestors were not of the forest. As they spread over the first continent then cast their vision beyond, they would have encountered many types of forest. Bipedal creatures with eyes accustomed to searching distances are disadvantaged by the close quarters and darker illumination of the forest. We can adapt. But we are not built for it.


Whether set in medieval Europe or ancient China or modern America, forests are places to fear. To hide. To hold secrets. To harbor threats. Individual humans may love the trees. As a species, though, we are intimidated by them. They will outlive us, they will endure hardships we cannot, and truly they are more important to the planet’s biosphere than we are.


Sorrow’s Forest plays with those themes very enthusiastically. Mackie KING has taken the forest QUEEN’s subject and a chess match between humans and forest ensues. Pawns are sacrificed. Gambits and feints probe each other’s weaknesses. But as always with a fairy tale the final question is how will forests and humans share the earth.


It’s a story formula that has worked well for centuries, and author Kaitlin Corvus has effectively and exuberantly made it her own. It’s a fairy tale, it’s a coming-of-age story, it’s a queer romance, and it’s all wonderfully done.


Our thanks to Escapist Blog Tours for our copy of Sorrow’s Forest, provided for an honest review as part of a long-ago blog tour that landed during a very rough time for us. Our apologies to Escapist and to the author and publisher for missing the tour.


Sorrow’s Forest, Kaitlin Corvus

Book Review: Sorrow’s Forest, Kaitlin Corvus

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