Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Forest by Lisa Quigley Review

Today Kathy & Audra recommend Lisa Quigley's THE FOREST. We hope you'll check it out! 

The Forest by Lisa Quigley

"Everyone in Edgewood believes their annual tithes at the fall festival are what purchase Edgewood’s safety, but as Faye and her husband prepare to take over as town stewards—a long tradition carried out by her family for generations—they learn the terrible truth: in order to guarantee the town’s safety, the forest demands an unthinkable sacrifice.

In the midst of everything, Faye is secretly battling debilitating postpartum anxiety that makes her all the more terrified to leave the safe cocoon of her enchanted town.

When everyone turns against her—including her own husband—Faye is forced to flee with her infant son into the forest. She must face whatever lurks there and, perhaps most frightening of all, the dark torments of her own mind.

The Forest is an adult folk horror novel appealing to fans of 'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson and Bird Box by Josh Malerman, with a hint of The Changeling by Victor LaValle. It is Quigley’s debut novel."

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Kathy's Review

Lisa Quigley’s debut novel The Forest is disturbing, but I found myself anxiously turning the pages to discover the answers to questions that no mother should ever have to face.

Quigley uses a unique style of dividing the chapters into “the present” and “before the forest” to develop two frightening questions: what would a mother do to save the life of her newborn baby, and would a mother sacrifice the life of her baby to save the people that she loves? She uses foreshadowing to subtly plant these questions into the readers’ minds to create so much fear and anxiety that they will probably read all afternoon to find answers.

The Forest begins in “The Present.” The town of Edgewood has always been safe and protected. The community preserves this lifestyle by sacrificing their most valuable possessions in exchange for the protection from the surrounding forest. As the fall festival approaches, Faye realizes that her family and community, especially her mother and husband, expect her to sacrifice her newborn Jonas at the festival since it is her most valuable possession. Faye refuses to let that happen and secretly plans an escape through the forest. She drugs her husband Charlie so that he will not wake up and notice she has fled. When her mother confronts her at the bottom of the stairs, Faye knocks her unconscious.

Faye’s escape is perilous as the townspeople attempt to capture her and Jonas. She uses some man-made camouflage shelters, a family member’s aid, and a dark and wet underground tunnel to protect her until she can reach the surface. Faye faces numerous obstacles as she tries to keep a step ahead of her captors.

I loved this debut novel, and I recommend it for its suspense, family secret, and outcome.

Audra's Review

A folk horror novella that centers on a small town and the ugly secret behind its perfect facade.

With chapters that alternate between the present (Faye running through the forest, trying to escape her hometown with her infant son) and the past (what happened before she flees), this one keeps you turning pages—I just wanted to know what was going to happen to Faye and her son! The back-and-forth also gives you time to slowly understand the scope of the story, which incorporates a dark fantastical mindset alongside the very real horrors of postpartum depression and fear for the life of one's child.

There are some definite cultish vibes here, in the sense of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" or Harvest Home, where an idyllic veneer covers a dark truth and those who benefit from it are willing to ignore the grotesque reality. For me, Faye's time in the forest felt a bit repetitive and I wish that the story could have focused more on the events of the climax, which come a bit out of nowhere and are too neatly tied up at the end.

Overall, this is a strong, emotive debut that reveals Quigley as a new voice in horror fiction.

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy of this one.

Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about The Forest and any recent reads with us in the comments below.

We are currently accepting horror fiction and horror adjacent fiction written by diverse authors in print and epub format ONLY. If this is you, please visit our review submission page here.

Audra and her horror hound, Ouija, help manage the Horror Spotlight Instagram page, and our monthly release update post. When not ghost hunting or rollerskating, she also contributes articles and helps maintain the website. You can find Audra on Instagram as @ouija.reads, Twitter as @audraudraudra, and Goodreads.

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