October 02, 2021

#BookReview: A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

Synopsis: When her siblings start to go missing, a girl must confront the dark thing that lives in the forest—and the growing darkness in herself—in this debut YA contemporary fantasy for fans of Wilder Girls.

Derry and her eight siblings live in an isolated house by the lake, separated from the rest of the world by an eerie and menacing forest. Frank, the man who raised them after their families abandoned them, says it’s for their own good. After all, the world isn’t safe for people with magic. And Derry feels safe—most of the time.

Until the night her eldest sister disappears. Jane and Derry swore to each other that they’d never go into the forest, not after their last trip ended in blood, but Derry is sure she saw Jane walk into the trees. When another sibling goes missing and Frank’s true colors start to show, feeling safe is no longer an option. Derry will risk anything to protect the family she has left. Even if that means returning to the forest that has started calling to Derry in her missing siblings’ voices.

As Derry spends more time amidst the trees, her magic grows more powerful . . . and so does the darkness inside her, the viciousness she wants to pretend doesn’t exist. But saving her siblings from the forest and from Frank might mean embracing the darkness. And that just might be the most dangerous thing of all.


Rating: 1 Star
My Review: I thought that I was going to fall hard for this one.  I mean it has fantasy, danger, plus size representation, all the LGBTQ reps, etc. But sadly it wasn't meant to be. The writing and story just ended up being very bland for me. It felt like the author was going down a list of things to include and then mushed them all together and it just didn't work out at all. 


"Hollowell builds a magical atmosphere with ominous, spooky overtones....An otherworldly showing of inner strength."—Kirkus

“Hollowell’s crafted something as intricate and complex and painful and beautiful as a life. This story is completely saturated with love and rage and yearning. It is, quite simply, a triumph.” —Sarah Gailey, best-selling author of When We Were Magic 
“Sarah Hollowell has created an effortlessly diverse cast of sisters, with characters and relationships as rich and complex as the magic that defi­nes their lives. From the moment Derry answers the eerie call of the woods, A Dark and Starless Forest begins to weave an irresistible spell in this tale of magic and sisterhood, love and loss, power and control.” —Kate Alice Marshall, author of Rules for Vanishingand I Am Still Alive
“Magical and mesmerizing, Sarah Hollowell’s debut stings with honesty and heart as Derry challenges the darkness in the woods to ­find her siblings—and herself. A Dark and Starless Forest draws you in with its beauty, and entangles you in its thorns. A brilliant contemporary fantasy!” —Ashley Poston, author of Among the Beasts and Briars
A Dark and Starless Forest reeled me in, vine by creeping vine, and held me under the sway of its mysterious forest and magical siblings from the ­first page until the last. Hollowell skillfully combines the wonder and challenges of found family with a deadly tug-of-war between insidious forces eager to exploit that family in an eerie, resonant tale about learning to reclaim your own power and anger to protect those you love.” — Shveta Thakrar, author of the Andre Norton Nebula Award finalist Star Daughter
"A haunting, lyrical book about the magical queer family I’ve always wanted to experience, living in a horror movie that I would never want to experience." —Mara Fitzgerald, author of Beyond the Ruby Veil

A Dark and Starless Forest seamlessly blends eerie magic with real-world sensibility for a story that feels both classic and utterly new. Sarah Hollowell is an amazing new voice in contemporary fantasy.” —Hannah Whitten, author of For the Wolf


About the Author

Sarah Hollowell is a queer, fat Hoosier writer aiming to up the magic quotient of Indiana. She spends an awful lot of her nonwriting time listening to podcasts, needle felting cryptids, and replaying the same five video games. Twitter: @sarahhollowell.

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