Title: The Carved Forest
Author: Tim Pratt
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
5th sentence, 74th page: Chop away.
Carlos’ sister, Maria, has run away from home. He thinks she may have gone to the house of the woman who is rumored around town to be a witch. Carlos never believed the stories though. He always thought she was just a crazy old woman until he goes looking for Maria and finds a forest of carved trees behind the woman’s house that look exactly like all the people in his town. He quickly learns that the witch, Nedra, has been using the statues to control everyone and she wants Maria to be her apprentice. Nedra insists that she’s only keeping everyone safe from harm, but Carlos sees the truth: she’s taken away their free will. When Nedra makes everyone but Carlos forget about Maria, it’s up to Carlos to find a way to free Maria before it’s too late.
The Carved Forest was an interesting witch story – it provided a great reminder that you need to let go of your grief. Holding on to the past, your grief and lost loved ones only leads to pain and suffering. Not just for the one holding on to it, but everyone around them.
In this witchy-tale, the witch’s longing to protect the people in her care leads to some very serious consequences. Trapping Carlos’ sister in her witchy-world is just the tip of the ice berg. It was a more than symbolic way to show that if we keep those we love 100% safe, we’re probably not letting them truly live their lives. And it isn’t until Carlos is able to show how far he will go to protect a sibling that the witch, Carlos and the reader are able to realise the flaws in the system of protection.
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