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Young Adult Fiction 1338
The Forest Demands Its Due
(Updated: November 03, 2023)
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Seventeen-year-old Douglas can't remember a horrific event he was charged with. When an opportunity to attend a prestigious boarding school in the small town of Winslow, Vermont comes his way? His mother feels this might give them a second chance. But things aren't all they seem at this school. For one, Douglas hears voices from the forest, and students not only go missing but quickly they're forgotten. Just when Douglas thinks it can't be worse, he stumbles on a secret. A secret that involves a centuries-old curse that demands blood sacrifices. Now he finds that in order to break the curse he has to go into the forest. But will that be enough to stop centuries of violence?

What worked: Get Out meets The Taking of Jake Livingston where some mysteries are best left alone. Douglas is a troubled Black queer teen who finds himself at a mostly White prestigious school where he's offered opportunities for a second chance. He runs into bullying from his peers and doesn't feel he exactly fits in. The start of this story is very intriguing and I was curious where the author would go. The premise of a troubled teen hearing voices and seeing things at a wealthy school that holds grisly secrets is one I'm totally into.

When Douglas finds out the 'truth' of the school and the town. This fantasy world involves locals whitewashing a horrific past. But even more sinister are those who are in charge at the academy and their part of the mystery.

There's a foe-to-more angle between Douglas and Everett that has a subtle burn.

Douglas finds out he has a role to play in solving the mystery behind the students' disappearances. This includes fighting mythological creatures in the forest who demand vengeance for a wrong due centuries ago.

The middle of the story slowed down an otherwise engaging thriller. The fight scenes and those who go missing happen at a rapid pace. Sometimes it was hard to follow all the different terms and monsters hiding in the forest.

Fast-paced academia fantasy where not all is what it seems. Not too dark with a sweet queer romance. Disappearances mix with grisly century-long curses and the hope of one to vanquish it.
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