In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton
Author: Kersten Hamilton
Genre: Fiction (Young Adult / Celtic Mythology / Supernatural-Paranormal / Chicago / High School)
Publisher/Publication Date: Clarion (10/22/2011)
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!).
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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!