Lush world-building, epic scope, complex characters, and magic — Forestborn is just about my new favorite YA fantasy adventure. A story that gave me such Throne of Glass vibes.
Olive-skinned shapeshifter Rora (whom the humans deeply distrust) works as a spy for the moderate Telyan court. Why does the court need a spy? Because the Eradain king is clearly up to no good. Plus, there are sparking tensions between non-magical and magical people. Still, spy for the Telyans or no, the humans deeply distrust Rora (as they do all shifters), but at the court, she’s gained the king’s respect and a close friendship with the youngest prince, Finley.
When Finley contracts a mysterious (deadly) illness (called the Follow Throes), Rora is sent on a mission to the Western Vale to save him. And save him, she will. If only Finley’s loathsome older brother didn’t have to tag along for the journey. Rora so does not want the help of Ansley, who can’t even call her by her name. But at least she’s negotiated that her brother, Helos (a shapeshifter and healer), gets to come, too.
Captivatingly written, Forestborn immediately draws readers into its rich, high-stakes storyworld. From the start, the stakes are more than just “the mission.” There’s the survival of magical people to consider (the Eradain king wants them gone). And then there’s the Follow Throes, the magical illness which affects magical and non-magical people alike. Oh, and did I mention that the continent is at the brink of war?
The stakes are epic — the story is epic!
At its core, Forestborn is all about healthy sibling bonds and friendships. We’ve got Helos and Rora’s relationship. Rora’s fierce desire to protect her best friend, (queer) prince Finley. But there is romance, too, which I can’t go into without venturing into spoiler territory… so I won’t go further than hinting at a m/f and a m/m relationship and something enemies-to-lovers. But for all those who take their plot with a serving of slow-burn romantic love, you won’t be disappointed.
A knockout debut.
Forestborn is the first installment in the eponymous magical-quest YA fantasy duology (is it too late to petition this to be turned into a series?)
Published: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 31st, 2021
Age Range: 13 – 18
Tor Teen kindly sent me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.