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Forest of Whispers (Hedge Witch Book #1) by Jennifer Murgia: A Book Review

Forest of Whispers (Hedge Witch Book #1)
Author: Jennifer Murgia
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 328
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: "This is who I am. I am no longer the simple girl hidden behind the safety of a make-believe forest. I am the story. I am the tall tale . . . I am the witch."

     Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago... and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.


     Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to--one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder--a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe.


     My Review: Rune has always lived in the forest with an old-fortune teller named Matilde. She learns that the forest holds a dark secret that involves her birth mother. One day she learns the truth that she is a witch. When she becomes a target to the witch hunters in a village nearby her forest, Rune struggles with her identity while trying to protect herself. She realizes that the only person who believes that her witchcraft could be used for good is Laurentz, the son of the Electorate. In order to come to terms with her identity, Rune must learn the truth of the forest’s dark secrets, whose past haunt those around them.

     Rune learns that her birth mother is an evil witch who has done many terrible things. Throughout the novel, she is determined to not be like her mother. She is often conflicted with hard choices, and tries to do the right thing. Rune is often trying to find her identity and to find happiness. There really is not much character development in Rune. She is a weak character. She does not really do anything, nor does she save herself. In fact, it is those around her, especially her mother that does her actions. As for Rune’s power, I really did not get a sense of her magic. The author tells us that she is the most powerful witch in Bavaria, but there is no action that shows us how powerful she is. That is another issue that I had about the book. The author tells us the actions of the characters, she does not show. It is said that her mother is evil, but she does not tell us the evil things she has done. I also thought that there needs to be more character development for Laurentz. He also does not really do anything in the novel.

     Overall, this story is about a woman finding her identity. While the characters need some work, and the plot was predictable, I did find the storyline to be interesting. I really like how it was about the witch trials in Bavaria. The setting is atmospheric and dark, and the forest is very mysterious. Forest of Whispers kept me interested enough for me to read the sequel when it comes out. I am interested in finding out what happens to Rune, and if she has grown into a stronger character. I recommend this book to those who are interested to fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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