Sunday, 22 April 2012

Wraith's Forest by L.J. Leger

Beauty and the Beast retelling… is there any wonder that I requested a copy of this book for review? Considering my addiction to all things B&B, I think not. Time kind of got away from me with this book and I missed the deadline review date, but I guess better late than never, right?

Title: Wraith’s Forest
Author: Judith Leger
Publisher: Pinewood Press
Target Audience: 15+
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 44 pages

Story: Fairy tales and haunted woods lead us through L.J. Leger's Beauty and the Beast story of one girl with the weight of a village on her shoulders and the attention of a very unlikely soul.

Jenna is chosen for the coveted task of gathering the magical fruit to preserve the peaceful balance of the secret valley where she and many others live. During the harvest, one fruit is damaged and the task of healing the bruise falls on Jenna’s shoulders. She must enter the Wraith’s Forest, retrieve a magical blade from the specter who lives there so the valley will remain a utopia. But once she makes contact with the Wraith, her fear slowly disappears and her curiosity is aroused with more questions of why the Wraith is in the Forest and the true purpose for the harvest. If you love Beauty and Beast type fairy tales, Wraith’s Forest is the book to read. 

Thoughts and impressions: The problem with novellas is that often enough it’s hard for the reader to form a substantial opinion of the characters. I found that to be the case here. I had my opinion of Jenna but that was because the story followed her and so she was in every scene. I actually liked her and how she came across as a very rounded, normal person: doing her duty because she knows this is what is expected of her and not because this is what she wants to do. I find that’s the case with most people. If my mother was heavily pregnant and needed my help around the house, I suspect I’d feel frustrated and put out at having to walk to a tree and collect its fruit for three days straight, even being aware that it was for the greater good of the valley as a whole.

Jenna, however, was the only one I really had an opinion of. Nole, the wizard, was obviously going to be playing the role of the bad guy but he wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to really understand why he was playing this role (something about a woman and jealousy of his rival, but it was passed over too quickly that it didn’t stick). The Wraith, playing the role of the Beast, in his broken castle that is a mere shadow of its former glory, trapped in a spell he never wanted to be part of – yes, he inspired empathy in me as he did in Jenna and he was actually a very good basis for a Beast character. Perhaps the most important thing was that the growing attraction between Jenna and the Wraith just wasn’t really there for me. I mean, first off, they were only together for a day or two and secondly while their interactions were poignant, I didn’t feel they contained the seeds of future love.

At the length it was, the story was good and Jenna in particular made for a good character, the idea of a spell for balance in the valley was interesting and well-used. I actually feel that the author had all the necessary ingredients there to have made this novella longer, to have built up more – especially the interactions between Jenna and the Wraith – and to have had an absolute stunner on her hands. As it was, things did feel rather rushed. As a rule of thumb, romances in novellas are rushed simply because there isn’t the length of book to have them slow-burning, but this one just didn’t have the basis for me to readily accept Jenna’s actions at the end (though I could accept the Wraith’s as she was the one who freed him).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the idea behind the story was one that had me completely sold and my interest piqued, but the length of the story didn’t allow for the evolution necessary to really tickle my fancy.

Style: I went through phases with the style of the book. I read it in two goes: once waiting for the pharmacy to open and then I finished it on my way to work (because I was caught up in the story and wanted to finish it as soon as possible but then I suffered the headache I get from reading in that particular bus so that may have tampered with my view of the style). Up until the point where Jenna goes to the Wraith’s castle, I was enjoying the style. Once she got there, though, I noticed that the sentences tended to be very short, which lent a rather choppy feel to the style, and sometimes bordered on telling too much rather than showing. From time to time there would be two or three sentences in a row that would follow the formula: “she *action verb* *object* (full stop).” I’m not really a fan of such short sentences that start with personal pronouns, but I readily admit that this is personal taste.

Final verdict: If I’m honest, I think that the length of this story did let it down in certain areas. If the author ever decides to expand on this novella and make a full-fledged novel out of it, I think it could easily be one of my favourite YA Beauty and the Beast retellings! 3 stars

Extra notes: No bad language, no sex.


  1. I LOVE beauty and the beast. How nice to find someone else who has the same addiction ^^

    Have you ever read Juliet Marillier - Heart's blood? Amazing retelling!

    Thanks for the review.

  2. @Mel - Thedailyprophecy. I have read Heart's Blood! It's one of my favourite books! I gave it to my mum to read but she's just stuck it on a shelf - grrr. I should get it back - I wanna reread it now!


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