The Drowned Forestby Kristopher Reisz
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 doesa 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 hereven 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.
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
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)
- North Star Editions
- Publication date:
- 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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