Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago… and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.
Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to–one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder–a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe. (goodreads.com)
Not that I’ve never not been into historical fiction but I’ve been getting more into it lately and the Inquisition is one of my interest points. So it’s really not a wonder that when I found FOREST OF WHISPER on NetGalley that I requested it and subsequently got approved by the publisher for it. I really didn’t know what to expect going in, how political the author was going to get with the story, what angle she was going to really take. so aside from the basic premise I knew nothing of the spin I was going to read.
I liked the setting Murgia painted in the forest. I’ve always been rather fearful of nature so the Black Forest was rather scary to me but because the story’s told through Rune’s eyes it also has a loving, comforting edge to it. Whenever Rune’s talking about it, it seems more like a safety blanket than anything scary. I liked how Murgia was able to toggle between Rune’s perception and everyone else’s and make the same scenery shift so drastically in feeling. That’s pretty good writing to me.
As far as the plot, eh . . . It was okay. It had its moments where I truly felt bad for Rune and Matilde for what was happening to them and the gross injustice of the Bishop’s slack-jawed system of justice but there’s a very big deus ex machina moment for Rune that, the more I think on it, the more incensed I get about it. Laurentz is this knight in shining armor that literally saves Rune from death but he’s working under the guise of being horrified of the injustice being committed against these women. Yet he only bothers with one in the rescue, leaving a boatload more to die. Maybe it’s narrow-sighted of me. What could he really DO for the rest of them without risking his true purpose? On the other hand he’s someone with a lot of power that could rightly make things right with just a word. Who knows?
It also bugged me how often Laurentz mentioned how Rune had him bewitched and how he was under her spell. That just rubbed me the wrong way. Irrespective of Rune’s supposed witch status for how much he kept saying he liked her and through all of the things he did for her he seemed to keep chalking it up to some power she held over him. I don’t believe it was with the same intent that someone like the Bishop would use to manipulate people but for how outwardly he kept insisting that she was human and worthy of life he kept falling back on his feelings being the source of a spell. It didn’t sit right with me.
It ended typically and I didn’t know until I started working on this review that it’s a first in a series (rather, I just didn’t notice). There’s plenty more to work with after the story ends but it was a rather neatly tied up ending. It was all intriguing enough but I wasn’t floored by any of it. There wasn’t too much different being done with the history or the circumstances and while I did like Rune as a character I was less than impressed with Laurentz and ultimately didn’t connect too well with either of them by the end of it. This is one of those books where I struggled to write the review because I didn’t really have a lot of feelings one way or another about it. It’s okay. The book isn’t bad but it’s not stand-out either. I don’t think it’s a waste of time to read but it’s not something that really leaves a lasting impression.