The Forest of Hands & Teeth

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 8:34 AM


Rating: 4/5 stars

Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth, and every day she hears the moaning of the Unconsecrated outside the fences. Her life is limited and isolated, hemmed in by the iron rule of the Sisters and the constant reality of death -- and yet Mary dreams of the ocean and other impossible stories that her mother has passed down to her, memories of life before the Return.

Before the dead began to rise up and consume the living, creating the world of survival and fear that is all Mary has ever known. She is safe within the fences -- as safe as anyone can be -- but Mary hungers for more. When her world crumbles, she must fight to survive in the midst of horror, and faces the hardest choice of all: whether to give up her dreams or push forward into the darkness. Into the Forest.

This story has beautiful prose that quietly snakes around you, then winds in tightly and traps you in Mary's world. Understated yet compelling, showing a dark mirrorglass world of death and yes, zombies, but in a way that totally avoids the cheap flatness of a splatterfest horror film.

Because this isn't really a story about zombies (they are important with the killing and Infecting and all, sure) -- it's a story about longing and desire and emptiness and hope. And though Mary, Carrie Ryan actually makes it all interesting and challenging, because her protagonist is complex and believable (even if she tends to overshadow the other characters by comparison -- and btw, love triangles pretty much always suck). Mary is flawed and furious and she wants so much, and even the parallels of zombie living-flesh-hunger and human love-safety-spirit hunger don't feel clunky in this context.

Not an upper by any means, but a gorgeous read that will guarantee you'll never look at zombies the same way again.

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