Thursday, February 22, 2024

Review: The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed


The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed
Publication Date: February 27th, 2024
Paperback. 160 pages.

About The Butcher of the Forest:

"A world-weary woman races against the clock to rescue the children of a wrathful tyrant from a dangerous, otherworldly forest.

At the northern edge of a land ruled by a monstrous, foreign tyrant lies the wild forest known as the Elmever. The villagers know better than to let their children go near—once someone goes in, they never come back out.

No one knows the strange and terrifying traps of the Elmever better than Veris Thorn, the only person to ever rescue a child from the forest many years ago. When the Tyrant’s two young children go missing, Veris is commanded to enter the forest once more and bring them home safe. If Veris fails, the Tyrant will kill her; if she remains in the forest for longer than a day, she will be trapped forevermore.

So Veris will travel deep into the Elmever to face traps, riddles, and monsters at the behest of another monster. One misstep will cost everything."

I utterly devoured this book.

The Butcher of the Forest is a dark fantasy novella featuring a woman named Veris who is tasked with rescuing some wayward children of the tyrant of the land from an uncanny forest. This is a dark fantasy novella with just a hint of a grimdark note due to how melancholy and somewhat hopeless the tone felt at times throughout.

Veris is sent into the forest on orders from the tyrant because she once rescued another child from the forest, so the tyrant thinks she'll be able to do it again.  However, she’s self-aware enough–and just aware in general–to know that although her abilities might be enough to where she could survive the forest, it’s more about her understanding that if the forest doesn’t want her to survive or make it back with the children, she won’t. But knowing what’s at stake for her family and her village back home, she puts everything into her task and has some of the strongest determination and steeliness that I’ve seen in a character in a long time. I think it’s this steely mentality of hers that makes her a character I would incredibly confident being with–if I was stuck in this forest, she is the only person I would want to be with. She’s not going to lie and tell you everything will be alright or not to be scared, but she’s will tell you the rules and be extraordinarily careful, clever, and cautious at all times.

Veris is a realist and an incredibly resilient character that I found myself rooting for and connecting with in ways I don't often do with characters. She is someone who has suffered a lot in her life, and although I wouldn’t say she is necessarily better for it, she has learned from her experiences how to adapt, survive, and keep her wits about her no matter what comes her way. Veris understands that she’s the only one who has ever managed to survive entering and exiting the forest and I appreciated that she knew herself well enough to know that she is very capable and confident about her abilities to do this.

This is really the dark forest story that I’d love to have written myself. I was just absolutely captivated. I wanted to keep inhaling this book and learn more and more about this forest and everything within it. It has some truly horrifying creatures and ideas that lurk within and make you want to look away or cover your eyes while also creating an urge to constantly peek through your fingers to see what’s happening because you don’t want to miss anything. There’s so many very particular rules to follow in this forest that have dangerous consequences if not followed, and there’s very little mercy–if any–to be found in this forest. There is nothing that can help you in this forest that won’t also demand something in return, no matter how big or small it may be. You can absolutely never let your guard down in this forest, be sure not to harm anything in the forest itself, and be very careful of what you say both to yourself and to anything else within it.

Premee Mohamed’s writing is evocative and has a riveting flow to it that I couldn't look away from. I thought there was a fantastic mix of creatures and beings or elements of the forest that we get to see and interact with as readers along with those that we only really hear hints about from Veris or observe through what she sees while in the forest, and this kept a truly delightful balance of horror of both the scene and unseen. Altogether, this made it genuinely terrifying to imagine being in this forest knowing–and not knowing?–what might be waiting inside. I would never want to step foot in it, as most people in this story don’t want to, and I think even my undying curiosity wouldn’t be enough for me to give it anything but a wide berth.

I feel like cozy books have been the trend lately, and this book is anything but cozy. Still, there’s something oddly comforting about this book to me. It’s almost as if it really scratched that itch in my brain that yearns for something dark to explore, something that feels both impossible and all too real at the same time, and I think this book really did that.

If it wasn’t already clear from what is probably an overly gushing review, I thought The Butcher of the Forest was an absolutely stunning book. I don’t think it’s going to be for everyone, as I think some people may find it a bit slow paced and may not connect with it in the same way, but for other it will hit that spot and will instead feel like something slow paced but that you could inhale in a matter of hours (I inhaled it like oxygen I desperately needed, personally). I was hooked the entire time and cannot wait to check out more of her work as well as see what she may publish in the future.

Overall, I’ve given The Butcher of the Forest five stars! I cannot recommend it enough. It you are someone who likes things a little on the darker side or just loves a forest that is dark and mysterious and dangerous, then this is the book for you.

*I received a copy of The Butcher of the Forest in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon |

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review, I loved this too. It was my first Premee Mohamed book and certainly not my last. And I totally agree, Veris was an amazing character and perfect for this story😁