Author: Kate A. Boorman
Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.
When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
I really enjoyed this book! I started reading it on a Friday afternoon and had it finished by Saturday afternoon! It was the first time in a long time that I read a book that fast. I first bought the book because the premise reminded me a little of the movie The Village (and the story has shades of it, but it's NOT The Village). But what kept me reading was the mystery in it. I needed to know what was going on and why and how!!
Emmeline is a great character. She is flawed in many ways but still so strong. She's flawed in the eyes of the community because of the sins of her grandmother. They see Em as "stained" because her grandmother was wayward as they put it. She sinned against the beliefs of the community so had to be punished. But Em is also "flawed" because her foot was crushed when she was young so she walks with a limp now. What I liked was that this injury was a part of her, but it never stopped her or slowed her down! She was so strong and so stubborn that she pushed through anything to get what she wanted! I loved that about her. She was a main character I could cheer for!
Em is drawn to the woods - a dangerous thing because there are malmaci (creatures or spirits) in the woods who could take her. But yet she feels there are answers or things to discover in the woods that could help me. I love that she is brave enough to listen to her heart and do what should scare her.
There is some romance in the book for sure. What I liked what that even though it was there I didn't feel it took over the plot. It was part of the plot, but the mystery of the woods and what is happening far outweighed it in my mind. It just added another level of tension to the story.
I really like how the book ended. It felt final and whole and complete not like I had to wait to get the full story until the next book came out. I guess, from looking at the author's website, that this is a trilogy, but honestly the way this books ends you could be content with it and not frustrated!
Couple of side notes - there is a lot of French in the story because they speak part English, part French. That did take a bit to get use to, but it was fine. And if you've read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan you'll see a similar feel in parts of this story which was fine by me because I love that book.
Final thought - Great read that kept me very much engrossed in it!