A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell was a dark, delicious treat for my winter reading! This witchy, star-soaked YA dark fantasy is set in the isolated fields beside an alpine lake. Derry and her several siblings-by-circumstance learn to hone their unique and varied magical gifts from the stern yet fatherly--and unmagical--Frank. Despite the sun on the lake surface and the wind in the trees, something dark encroaches on the idyllic setting as, one-by-one, Derry's siblings go missing.
I was captivated by the cover of this book when it first crossed my Twitter timeline early in 2021--Derry's full, powerful arms covered in the vines of her budding magic were so beautiful, and the image of this young witch willing to do anything to protect her family did not lead me astray. Hollowell's writing is vivid without being florid. Derry's voice is sure and determined, complete with the anxieties and excitement that come with young adulthood and realizing you've outpaced your teachers. While the world Hollowell weaves is a dark one, it is also achingly familiar, reminding us of the press of the unknown when we've begun to expand beyond the borders of our childhood. I'm excited to see what comes next from Sarah Hollowell.
For fans of woody, witchy friendship and unassuming, badass protagonists!