Today I’m reviewing The Forest of Moon and Sword by Amy Raphael!
Title: The Forest of Moon and Sword
Author: Amy Raphael
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Number of Pages: 288 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Category: Middle Grade
Date Published: January 12, 2021
Buy the Book: Book Depository
When Art’s mother is accused of witchcraft, she is determined to get her back – at any cost. A lyrical adventure with folklore at its heart, for fans of THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN LEGS.
Twelve-year-old Art lives in a small village in Scotland. Her mother has always made potions that cure the sick, but now the townspeople say she is a witch.
One cloudless night, Art’s mother is accused of Witchcraft, arrested, and taken from Scotland to England. Art mounts her horse, taking a sword, a tightrope, and a herbal recipe book, and begins a journey through wild forests to find her mother before summer solstice, using nature’s signs and symbols to guide her.
On her journey, Art will discover what sacrifices she will need to make to be reunited with her mother – and to alter the fate of women everywhere. But will she reach her, before it’s too late?
This fast-paced adventure was the February pick for the Middle Grade Marvels book club. This historical fiction tale explores the witch trials in the UK during the 1600s with a few fantastical elements thrown in. It features a great friendship and a daring adventure. While I enjoyed the book at the beginning, by the end I had some mixed feelings about the story.
The first thing I want to talk about is the characters in this book. I loved Art. I thought she was easy to root for and I wanted her to succeed. I was able to connect with her and I enjoyed watching her grow throughout her journey. I also loved Mercy. I thought she was clever and her friendship with Art was probably my favourite thing about this entire story. I was proud of both of these characters for making it so far on their journey.
I also enjoyed the adventure element of this book. Even though I had issues with the pacing, which I’ll talk about in a bit, I enjoyed the adventure. I enjoyed that there was a sense of danger throughout the story and the question of “will they or won’t they be successful”? This layer of adventure and suspense made the book very easy to read because I was curious about how things would all play out.
The next thing I want to mention is the pacing of the story. I enjoyed the first half and I thought it was fairly well done. I liked how the history of the time period was laid out in a way that was simple enough to be a decent introduction to young readers about the witch trials of the 1600s. I enjoyed reading about the first half of Art’s journey from Scotland to Essex, England. I enjoyed reading about the forest and seeing what Art saw along the way. Once Art got close to her destination, things started to fall apart a bit for me. The second half of the book felt a bit choppy and disjointed. There were moments where I had to flip back to make sure I hadn’t accidentally skipped a page while reading. I had a difficult time following what was going on at times because it felt like the story was jumping ahead without enough explanation. I also thought that the end of the story left a lot of loose ends and unanswered questions, which was a bit frustrating.
Another thing I enjoyed about this book was the herbal remedies. I enjoyed reading about how different plants can be used for different things and the significance of the different plants. I don’t know how accurate the information was about the plants and herbal remedies, but I thought it added a nice layer to the story. I also enjoyed the small illustrations throughout the book of the different plants.
One thing I wasn’t too sure about with this book is what genre it fell into. The book felt like historical fiction because the witch trials are a real thing that happened, but there were also a handful of what felt like fantastical elements that made me unsure. Some of these fantastical elements led to the loose ends and unanswered questions, and I feel like they could have been explained just a bit better.
Finally, I want to wrap-up this review with a few content and trigger warnings, please note this list isn’t complete. This book contains bullying, some violence, mentions of animal abuse, attempted murder (of witches), and death.
Overall, this was an enjoyable enough read, but I feel like it could have been a bit longer and plotted out a bit better.