Published by Clarion Books on August 7, 2018
Series: Mechanica #0.5
Genres: Young Adult, retelling, Fantasy & Magic
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen.
The Forest Queen is a young adult fantasy retelling by Betsy Cornwell. It is labeled as being book 0.5 in the Mechanica series. While I have not read Mechanica, I believe this is a standalone story that is set in the same world. Mechanica is a retelling of Cinderella but The Forest Queen is a female retelling of Robin Hood. I loved that Robin Hood was in fact our main character, Sylvie. In fact, the Forest Queen has a very strong female empowerment vibe throughout. I enjoyed The Forest Queen. I am a fan of the tale of Robin Hood and I thought the Forest Queen provided a new spin on that story. That being said, while I liked this book, it didn’t completely blow me away. It was a good novel, but something stopped me from completely falling in love with it.
In the Forest Queen we meet Sylvie and her brother John. I got the impression that Sylvie and her brother John used to be pretty close, but I never really felt any of the effects of their previous closeness. John was every bit the tyrannical sheriff, and I didn’t feel like he had a ton of depth. But Sylvie was a great character. I liked seeing her and her friends band together to rid their town of inequality and social injustice. I also liked her friends, Bird and Little Jane. They made a good group, and I would have liked to see more form them as a whole. The plot of the Forest Queen was very intriguing to me, but because of the short length of the novel, we didn’t have enough time to delve into the level of depth I was hoping for on the character side or plot detail side.
I can see this book being perfect for young adult readers who want a quick read and who love retellings. The gender swap for Robin Hood is an idea I am really into and I enjoyed the way Betsy Cornwell told this retelling. I enjoyed The Forest Queen but ultimately it was over too quickly for me to fully fall in love. If you are looking for a retelling that you can read in one sitting, check out The Forest Queen.
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