In Mary's village, the Sisterhood guides the people. Guardians and fences serve to protect the villagers from the Unconsecrated --- the undead hordes hungering at the fences. Once bitten by one of the Unconsecrated, a victim will join these zombies that rage through the forest surrounding the village. Mary's father has become one of the Unconsecrated and she worries that her mother's grief may cause her to do something insane.
On the day Harry asks Mary to go to the Harvest Celebration with him, she has a huge decision to make. After all, if she agrees to accompany him, she is essentially agreeing to marry him. Mary likes Harry, but she is in love with his brother. But Harry unknowingly breaks her heart when he informs her that his brother is going to the Celebration with Mary's best friend. At that moment, the village siren sounds. Have the fences been breached by the Unconsecrated? Mary discovers, to her grief and horror, that her mother has been bitten and infected by one of the Unconsecrated --- and that she has chosen to be turned out into the forest with the other zombies rather than dying immediately.
Mary stays with the Sisters. While working through her sorrow, she ponders the stories her mother once told her --- tales of an ocean, something Mary can barely comprehend. Is there still an ocean somewhere past the forest? Could there be other people beyond their forest? Soon, Mary is drawn into a possibly hopeless romance. She glimpses a mysterious stranger, hidden from the others. And then she finds herself on a breathless life-or-death quest.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is a gorgeously written story that is filled with bleakness yet leavened with hope. It is part horror tale, part coming-of-age yarn, part romance, and part adventure story . . .adding up to a page-turner that is nearly impossible to put down.