Published by Delacorte Press on February 11th, 2014
Genres: High Fantasy
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Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.
Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.
Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.
This novel literally combines some of my favorite story elements and, to my heart’s delight, Templeman used them all exceedingly well. I love it when things are set in a small village and the creep factor is high. For some, the first 100 pages could be a bit slow but I found them rather intriguing.
Templeman created a bleak atmosphere. Here’s a town where nothing has really happened for years and suddenly, a group of the king’s soldiers die on the mountain top. The villagers hurriedly shrug it off as a wolf attack and although as a reader you know it’s something more, you don’t really feel the danger quite yet. Then someone you actually know dies and that’s when things start escalating. The atmosphere steadily builds upon itself until you reach the last 150 pages and the creep factor is sky high. When it reaches that point though, it stays there right up until basically the very end.
There were quite a few point of views (POVs) but this technique was absolutely perfect for the novel. The POVs did switch quite frequently but seeing the village and events through a variety of eyes only made everything creepier. It didn’t give away the mystery. You still had to put it together. But instead of hearing about some of the deaths, you actually see them.
While I enjoyed the characters, I wouldn’t say I really connected to them. This just isn’t one of those type of novels. This novel is more plot-centered than it is character-centered. Sure, I backed certain characters (Jude, my friends, Jude), but Jude, Rowan, and Tom could have just as easily died and I would have been okay. This might seem detrimental but it really isn’t, not with this book. This was about the monster in the woods. It was about discovering the evil that hid there and getting rid of it. It didn’t matter who did it as long as it was killed.
It should also be noted that, although this is high fantasy, I wouldn’t expect a sweeping world. Again, this isn’t detrimental. Often times, we’re lured into high fantasy because of books like The Lord of the Rings and Throne of Glass. This just isn’t that type of book. This is more concentrated. You see the beliefs of the villagers and their lives. It’s all very well developed and you become intimately familiar with this small village. But this book isn’t about saving the world. This is about a village on the brink.