Thursday, November 17, 2011

In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton

Title: In the Forests of the Night (Goblin Wars #2)
Author: Kersten Hamilton

Genre: Fiction (Young Adult / Celtic Mythology / Supernatural-Paranormal / Chicago / High School)
Publisher/Publication Date: Clarion (10/22/2011)
Source: NetGalley

Rating: Liked!
Did I finish?: Oh yes -- you couldn't stop me!
One-sentence summary: Teenaged Teagan battles the goblin world as it encroaches on her world while juggling high school, a job, college applications, and one very mean social worker.
Reading Challenges: E-Books

Do I like the cover?: Eh, I'm not wild about it, but like the first book's cover, it suggests the art that Teagan's mother might have created, so it fits in that regard.

First line: Tears were spilling down Teagan Wylltson's cheeks as she went up the stairs.

Did... I often have snicker fits on the subway while reading?: YES. As with the first book, Hamilton peppers the story with fabulous sarcasm and snark, and I love it. The Wylltsons and friends are my kind of people.

Am... I going to die waiting for the next book?: YES. Dying. This book ended with a bang!

Do... I love literally every single character in this book?: YES. The bestie's thuggish cousins, the preternaturally wise younger brother, the slightly damaged father, the cranky grandmother, the creepy weird goblin-y creatures that live with them ... all are fascinating and fun and hilarious and fabulous.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or borrow: get this book and the first one if you like supernatural YA with a twist and a seriously great heroine!

Why did I get this book?: I adored the first book, Tyger Tyger, and I had to know what happened next!

Review: Last year, Hamilton's first novel in the Goblin Wars series, Tyger Tyger, made my top ten of 2010. It was that good. Needless to say, I've been pretty excited for this book, which begins literally minutes after the first book ends.

One of the things I loved about the first book was that heroine Teagan remained consistent throughout the story, especially in regards to her behavior and attitude. She was tough, vulnerable, scared, brave, smart, and oblivious in appropriate and realistic ways -- and most of all, she didn't change her personality when she started getting hot for a dreamy boy. So I was very eager to see how Teagan developed in this book and if she would remain true to herself. Happily, I wasn't disappointed: not only did Teagan continue to be her level-headed self (still planning to go to college despite her boyfriend talking marriage, which the other characters all felt was ludicrous, too!), she also continued to be a proactive agent in her own life, rather than a passive witness.

Delightfully -- and stay with me on this -- a good chunk of this novel felt like Irish Catholic fiction, since Hamilton blends Celtic myth with Catholic tradition. I often forgot that I was reading a YA novel; this felt a bit like a more dramatic Rumer Godden or supernatural Maeve Binchy (in a good way!). It's a religious-ish story without being spiritual (also in a good way), blending my favorite parts of Catholic lore (saints and angels and Legion) with literature and mythology. Hamilton's world-building is unique and fun, and it's refreshing to have supernatural fic that doesn't involve vampires or werewolves. (Seriously, if you're 'eh' on goblins, give this a try. I promise you won't regret it!)

Sadly, Finn -- romantic lead and demigod -- was still my least favorite character. He grew on me a bit but I actually don't think he's a match for Tea nor is he as interesting as the other characters -- and as in the first book, In the Forests of the Night is loaded with great secondary and tertiary characters. As a result, I'm not so keen on the romance but that didn't affect my enjoyment of the story as the romance isn't a major part of the action.

I can't rave enough about this series and or squee about how delighted I am with the characters and the unique supernatural setting. This is the YA heroine I've always wanted, one I can relate to and would have identified with in high school. This is good reading -- get started with Tyger Tyger and then grab this one (because you'll want to read the next book, I promise!).

*** *** ***


Kersten Hamilton has generously offered a copy of In the Forests of the Night to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 12/9. Be sure to come back for my interview with Kersten and enter again to win!


  1. Wow! This sounds like it is really fun. I'm going to see if I can get Tyger Tyger. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I don't read very much fantasy. And I never even thought about my feelings about goblins :) -- but as usual, your review has me interested in this one!

  3. @Rhapsody: Do, do get Tyger Tyger -- you won't regret it!

    @Col: If you're ever in the mood for some fast, easy reading that won't insult you, consider this series. Seriously, Teagan might be one of my all time favorite YA heroines -- and Hamilton's writing is smart and funny and clever. A real escapist read, in the best way, and a little unusual in the choice of supernatural theme.

  4. Good timing! I was looking for a Celtic-ish YA after watching Brave's trailer last night :)

  5. @Alex: This would totally give you that fix!

  6. Thank you for the awesome review, Audra -- and I love your blog. :)

    If anyone wants to read Tyger Tyger, I just heard from my editor that they are having a special: at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Google the ebook is 2.99 for a limited time!

    :) Kersten

  7. I do want to read it, but I am careful when it comes to YA, most of the times it is too YA, and the drama makes me insane. But this one sounds different :)

  8. @Kersten: Thank you for popping by and sharing this tidbit -- I'm def going to buy it tonight!!

    @Blodeuedd: This is the YA you need then -- the drama is not YA drama, i.e. high school oriented -- it is mythic and tasty and super fun. I think you'd have a blast with it!

  9. Ok, first you had me hooked with the title, which is from a Blake poem (Tyger, Tyger -- my favorite) and then you go and tell me that the first book has the same title as the poem. You know I have to check out these books now, right?!

  10. I was wary of this one but your review makes it sound fantastic - like always. I'm always on the look out for a strong female character in YA. Guess I need to go find Tyger, Tyger

  11. Oh, my! Yep, definitely one I will have to put on the TBR. Haven't seen this one before but at first blush, I'm not a fan of the cover either, so I probably would have bypassed this had I not read your review. Proof that bloggers do sell books, right? :)

  12. I think I'm going to have to add this series to my wish list!

    Thanks for the great review, Audra.

  13. I love consistency and believability in my characters, and it sounds like this book has that in spades. Your enthusiastic review has me wanting to grab this series to try it out. Great review on this one today!

  14. I just won a copy of Tyger, Tyger and I'm waiting to get my copy to start this awesome sounding series! How cool would it be if I got a copy of this one to go with it?! Thanks so much for the giveaway and the chance to win my own copy:)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  15. Gah, I just finished Tyger, Tyger (at your recommendaton) and loved it, but my library doesn't have In The Forests of the Night! Gaaaaah!

  16. I'm getting TYGER TYGER for Christmas (I know because, well, you know how I know!). I've heard such great things about these books, so I'd love to know that the second installment is waiting by my bedside. Thanks for the giveaway!