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The Drowned Forest
     

The Drowned Forest

by Kristopher Reisz
 

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Best friends Jane and Holly have jumped into the river off Swallow’s Nest Bluff hundreds of times. But one day, Holly’s jump goes wrong. Her body never comes up, yet something else does—a sad creature of mud, full of confusion and sorrow. It’s Holly, somehow, trapped and mixed up with the river. And if Jane can’t do something to help,

Overview

Best friends Jane and Holly have jumped into the river off Swallow’s Nest Bluff hundreds of times. But one day, Holly’s jump goes wrong. Her body never comes up, yet something else does—a sad creature of mud, full of confusion and sorrow. It’s Holly, somehow, trapped and mixed up with the river. And if Jane can’t do something to help, Holly will take everybody down with her—even the people she loves the most. Blending Looking for Alaska’s theme of lost friendship with Stephen King’s sense of small town horror, The Drowned Forest is a Southern gothic tale of grief, redemption, and the mournful yearning of an anguished soul.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Deliciously chilling...A solid creepfest."—KIRKUS REVIEWS
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Brenna Shanks
Jane’s best friend, Holly, dies jumping from a bridge into a reservoir, something the Alabama teens had done safely a thousand times. Jane, staunchly Baptist like her family and community, tries to let faith comfort her, but the loss consumes her. When a monstrous, old catfish throws itself out of the river at a church celebration, only Jane notices when it coughs up a silver ring—Holly’s ring. She shows it to Tyler, Holly’s boyfriend, and they find HELP scratched into its surface. Thus begins the haunting. Because she fell into the reservoir where trees still lurk beneath the surface, Holly’s body was never recovered. Jane becomes convinced that she must free Holly from this drowned forest, but her attempts have dire consequences when a deadly, swamp-thing version of Holly emerges. A strong and lyrical voice draws the reader into this gentle horror tale. God and the Bible are prevalent throughout, but Jane’s beliefs and doubts are sincerely presented and never feel preachy. That sincere Christian perspective, when blended with the creepy, supernatural elements and few old folktales, lends a Southern Gothic feel to the novel. This book is recommended for school and public libraries looking for a horror story with depth. Reviewer: Brenna Shanks; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
02/01/2014
Gr 7–10—Fifteen-year-old Jane struggles every day to reconcile the sudden death of her best friend Holly, who drowned in the river. At a baptism one day, Jane and Tyler, Holly's boyfriend, witness something extraordinary: an enormous catfish surfaces from the river depths and coughs up Holly's ring, which she was wearing on the day she died. One word is scratched on the ring's silver surface: HELP. Jane is convinced that Holly's soul is trapped in the river and that they must help set her free. While everyone else thinks they are going crazy, the two teens set out to help release their friend and set things right. Set in a small southern town, The Drowned Forest is a unique story with a creepy, dark feel, reminiscent of Lisa McMann's Cryer's Cross (Simon Pulse, 2011) and A. J. Whitten's The Well (Houghton Harcourt, 2009). Unfortunately, it is slow paced, providing little action to move the plot along. The abundance of biblical verse is appropriate for Jane's character, but it bogs down the story and may alienate some readers. The narrative style is unusual, with Jane telling the story as though she is speaking to her deceased friend Holly. While unique, it is sometimes awkward and difficult to follow. The creepy small-town set up is well-done, but the lack of action, abundant scripture, and cumbersome narration will limit its appeal.—Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-11
Alabama teens combine prayer and the supernatural to guide a friend's soul to the afterlife. Ever since her best friend Holly's accidental drowning, Jane, a home-schooled "Jesus dork," has experienced a terrible crisis of faith. Unable to sleep and convinced that Holly's soul is trapped in the Drowned Forest--a stand of trees flooded by a dam--at the bottom of their slow-moving, fetid river, Jane enlists the help of Tyler, Holly's grieving boyfriend, to put her to rest. Their successful use of music to summon Holly's spirit breaks their hearts anew, as the version of Holly who emerges from the river is deadly to everyone she touches. Horrified and rightly convinced that her parents and pastor won't understand the situation, Jane runs away from home, crashing on a local bar band's couch while she and Tyler race to unravel the mystery of Holly's trapped spirit and send her peacefully on to the other side before she destroys them. This richly atmospheric debut gets off to a slow start and relies a little too heavily on Jane's series of intuitive leaps to resolve the plot, but Reisz's love and respect for his characters and their milieu is evident on every page, and his use of the Deep South's regional mythology is deliciously chilling. A solid creepfest from an author with potential. (Supernatural mystery. 13-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738739106
Publisher:
North Star Editions
Publication date:
02/08/2014
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.70(w) x 10.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

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Meet the Author

Kristopher Reisz (Athens, Alabama) is the author of Tripping to Somewhere and Unleashed, both published by Simon Pulse. The Drowned Forest is his first book for FLUX.

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