About The Book
The Forest God, incarnated into the body of hare, ready to die and live again.
The Apprentice Witch, outcast and unwanted, unsure of her path.
The Young Lord, frivolous and rootless, inconsiderate of his duties.
Their three souls should be bound to a cycle of death and sacrifice, responsibility and rebirth. But the bonds lie broken and shrouded in mystery. The wood remains in precarious balance for now, but the village withers.
Only together, can they set things right.
Fresh off reading John Wilker’s space western Any Job Will Do, I needed something on the opposite end of the spectrum. For most of my reading life, I’ve bounced between sci-fi and fantasy, and it was time for a story with a little magic.
I picked up The Forest God, by Jamie Lackey. At 59 pages, it promised to be a quick read, a nice palette cleanser between sci-fi adventures. The rabbit on the cover reminded me of the 80’s treasure hunt book Masquerade, one I have to this day because of its lovely art, even though the real-world treasure it pointed to was uncovered decades ago.
The Forest God wraps you up in an engaging fairy tale – the story of an ugly apprentice witch who resents her place in society and everyone around her. One day the forest god, who seems to become a new animal in this enchanted forest every few weeks or months, is reincarnated as a rabbit. The rabbit provides a lot of the story’s comic relief, a powerful god who nevertheless enjoys mightily being scratched in the soft place between its ears.
Throw in a handsome prince and you have all the trappings of a fairy tale romance, but that’s not where this one goes.
I don’t want to give away too much, but suffice it to say, this is a feminist fairy tale. Damsels are not in distress, and are most definitely NOT waiting to be rescued by the handsome prince. Still, it is a love story, of sorts, and Lackey’s gentle wit and lyrical prose carry you right through to the end.
There’s a classical quest structure, but there’s also a bit of confounding traditional tropes.
I sunk into this world with ease, grateful to have a respite from the complex moral grays of our own. The Forest God is a balm for the soul, a little bit of poetic prose that mixes themes from Pygmalion, the Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, and others to make something bright and shiny and new.
Well worth the read.
Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.