Shapeshifting in Forestborn | Book Review


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Author: Elayne Audrey Becker
Published: August 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 368 (hardback)

Huge thank you to Tor Teen for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review

The potential was there, I nearly loved it, but alas, I did not.

Quick thoughts
It is with a tragic heart that I report that this wasn’t my cup of tea. I loved the concept of this book and thought the world and the magic sounded so awesome! But ultimately a lot of things just didn’t quite work for me.

‘… I had long since learned to fear in silence.’

What was good
This is a world where magic is forbidden and our main characters are magical – they are shapeshifters. The cool thing about this was that a shifter can take on three forms, other than human, in their life. And so various events will trigger them to sort of unlock one of their forms. Both Rora and Helos have all three or their forms at the beginning of this story.

‘You can’t just shut every bad thought into a box and throw away the key. Sooner or later, you’re going to collapse under the weight.’

We have a magical sickness sweeping through the world and Rora is sent on a mission to find the solution to ending it. So we’ve got great motivations, an epic quest and some tense political settings.

We also have giant, sentient trees which was definitely a bonus point for any LOTR fans out there.

What didn’t work for me
I think the main thing that I struggled with was the pacing. I was fundamentally bored for a lot of this book.

It felt like a real effort to push through, despite me really wanting to know how things were going to go down.

‘Fear is just a story waiting to be told.’

This pacing made it hard to become immersed in the story and I also felt it meant some scenes were rushed. There were some challenges that also felt a bit too easy for the characters to resolve, so that wasn’t super satisfying.

There were a few times when I had this feeling that I just didn’t quite buy what was going on. There’s a lot of internal diagloue and it took away from the character’s actually doing things and resolving issues. It meant that I didn’t really back the romance, that felt a bit forced to me, and the queer rep in this could have been explored so much more.

‘Memories cling to me like cobwebs, and it’s impossible to shake them loose.’

Again, another example of this is the fact that both Rora and Helos have all of their forms. It would’ve been so cool if we got to discover even just one of them in the book. I just wish more of these things could’ve happened in-story rather than being like a footnote to say, oh this happened.

‘You’re allowed to be affected by the past, you know. Remembering doesn’t make you weak.’

Final thoughts
I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for reviews of book two in case things take an upward turn! This is a cool world and a great idea, but it unfortunately did not cut the mustard for me.

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