Page Count 368
Publication date April 2020/ Publisher Simon & Schuster
A bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend from the critically acclaimed author of The Boneless Mercies.
On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister Morgunn is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls.
Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known and joins a shaven-headed druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword. On their travels, Torvi and her companions will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death. . .
Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.
I was quite the fan of Tucholke’s debut The Boneless Mercies and very happy to receive a Netgalley of Seven Endless Forests.
Unfortunately, (this will not be reflected in my rating) I had a real fight on my hands to read the e-ARC I received. I know it will be corrected for final publishing but what I got was almost entirely incoherent due to formatting. Random numbers, a total mishmash of font sizes and a large header in the centre of every page really dragged me out of the experience. Nevertheless I persevered.
The first thing to strike me about the book was the sentence structure. All were short and fragmented which meant the narrative felt very choppy to begin with.
I enjoyed the little nods here and there to the characters from The Boneless Mercies, now spoken of as legends. It ties together the world Tucholke has created nicely.
Told in first person, past tense we follow the story of Torvi the Vorse- tracking the Fremish Wolves across the lands in search of her abducted sister Morgunn.
Various characters weave in and out of Torvi’s journey, but I didn’t find that any of them made a lasting impression.
One of the best qualities in Tucholke’s debut The Boneless Mercies was the endearing bond between the characters but in this novel I found them to be lacking.
What could have been emotional scenes were let down by the lack of ground work in character relationships early on. Not only is there insta-love but just instant feelings in general. That said, Gyda’s arc does go a way toward redeeming the shallows of other characters.
I also found there to be very little risk considering the swathes of different enemies and dangers described on the quest ahead. Our party of adventurers glide through the lands with minimal conflict, more often friendly assistance. This is very much a rainbows and sunshine story.
I mostly focused on the world building, and that I cannot fault. I really enjoyed the descriptive settings and the different clans and culture across the Seven Endless Forests. Tucholke writes magic and mysticism beautifully.
The story is enjoyable, themes of friendship, sisterhood and loyalty feature heavily.
Seven Endless Forests feels like it should have been an epic, but instead is a patchwork of people, places and quests that never delves deep enough. A stone skimming the surface.