*We received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
Desperate Forest follows Roselynn, the Princess of the Kingdom of Tover, on a quest to escape her murderous uncle through an ominous forest– with the help of some unexpected friends! Engaged to Darius, the new King of the Kingdom of Marcsnovia, Roselynn’s life seemed perfect– that is, until her uncle murdered her father with the intent to kill her too. Roselynn escapes Tover with the intent of reaching Darius in Marcsnovia, hoping he can offer her help in reclaiming her kingdom. After a few short days on the run, she is captured by Jay, the cute, rugged and mysterious guy traveling to Galesmore with a group of other travelers fleeing the oppressive rule of Roselynn’s uncle, Abrax.
Jay takes her back to the group he’s traveling with, where she meets an eclectic cast of characters. Gavin, the leader of the group, forces Roselynn to travel with them, claiming that going to Marcsnovia on her own was too dangerous. He instead offers to accompany her on his own once he helps the group reach safety in the neighboring kingdom. Roselynn tries her best to blend in with everyone else and contribute, but life in the forest is much different from the life of a princess!
Now, lets talk romance. Roselynn questions her future when chemistry builds between her and Jay. As the two grow closer, Roselynn can’t help but to think there is more to Jay’s story than he lets on. Determined to free her beloved kingdom from her uncle, she will do anything she can to make it to her fiancé. Roselynn is torn when her head and her heart begin pulling her in two different directions.
This book is a fun and quick read. You will quickly be incited by the characters and their motivations. We especially enjoyed the portions of the story that included Jay. His back story served as an unexpected plot twist. We also enjoyed his slow burn romance with Roselynn and found ourselves rooting for him early on. He had great banter with Roselynn and we could sense their chemistry!
Our only real complaint was the lack of world building. The kingdoms aren’t explained in a lot of detail. For example, we wondered how big the kingdoms were, how many people live in them and how are the borders drawn? It seemed like the world had real-life references to World War II and classic books, so where exactly does this world fit relative to ours? Also, the pace of story felt a bit off. It felt like the author would reveal things about the characters rather quickly, without the story naturally developing. Roselynn was also handed a large portion of critical information in the book, which felt almost too easy. The backstories of the side characters had potential, but they were also rushed for the purposes of pushing the story along. The characters were great–we just wish Louise would’ve spent more time telling us more about them.
All and all, we were pleased that Roselynn received a happy ending. We hate it when YA fantasy or dystonia ends in a sad or cringe worthy way *cough* Divergent *cough*. This was a solid book from a debut author!