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Book Review: Paper Forests by Tegan Anderson #BBNYA2023 #TheWriteReads #BlogTour

My dear bookish friends!

Paper Forests was a BBNYA contestant and came in 12th place in the 2023 awards! I didn’t read it as a panelist for the contest itself but had heard great things about it, so I just HAD to take part in this blog tour, and I’m so glad I did! Paper Forests is a unique, very deep and emotional book, so please read on to find out more about it, for my review, and to learn more about BBNYA itself!

A huge thank you to BBNYA and TheWriteReads for my ebook as well as spot on this tour (none of which influenced my rating or review in any way!).

About the Book

“While your children and grandchildren are away, I like to think that they’re visiting a fantastic place, somewhere where they aren’t restrained by an illness or held back by their own emotions, a place where there is nothing but health and happiness to greet them.”

Once upon a time, Oliver wakes up in a Forest full of magic and monsters, not quite dead, but not quite alive either. He wakes with three other people whose lives have been cut short, each more tragically than the last.

Together, they embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the Forest, where they will have to face the ghosts of their pasts and their long-hidden secrets. Secrets that will force Oliver to choose between finding a new life in the trees and finding a way home.

My Review

Paper Forests first caught my eye because it has a stunning cover, and the illustrations inside (even in the ebook!) added to the touch – it’s a beautiful book! I also like the title – I think it has a special ring to it, and I don’t really know what I was expecting when I first heard it, but I know it wasn’t THAT (and I mean that in a positive way!).

The novel itself…where do I even begin? Paper Forests is deep, very emotional (the first chapter already had me on the brink of tears!) and thought-provoking, and I think it blends deep and hard-hitting realistic elements with fantasy elements very nicely. The novel draws on themes of spirituality, love and friendship, health and illness, life and death.

The story opens in a room full of people who share one thing: they all have a child in their life who is on the verge of death (all for different reasons). This short scene is deeply touching and almost had me crying already. The themes we encounter in this first chapter are the ones that move through the book like a red thread. Very sad, very hard-hitting, very real – too real, perhaps.

But then, in the next chapter, we move away from this realistic setting, as said children find themselves in a forest – a Paper Forest. I really liked this concept, I hadn’t heard of it before, I’m not sure if it is a thing that is used in other books or if Anderson came up with the meaning behind the Paper Forests for this book, but I found it to be very unique and special. It was so much more than a mere setting – for the most part, the ever-changing forest seemed like a character in its own way, something I enjoy immensely in books.

The setting is ever-changing and still the same – it makes it hard for the children to understand what is happening at first. Are they all dead? Are they still sick or dying? Or will they wake up again soon? As we follow the children – all unique personalities  – through the forest as they are trying to find out what exactly is happening, we face all the hardships as well as their discoveries with them. There are many dangers to overcome, monsters to fight – many of them literal, but also monsters within them the children have to face. I’m using the term ‘children’ very loosely here, as there are younger children as well as teenagers who are almost adults among them.

I really liked their unique personalities and character traits. They are all of different ages, they have all suffered through different hardships in their – very short – lives, hardships that have shaped their personalities and made them into who they are. Gracie is, especially considering her very young age, incredibly strong, both in need of a strong shoulder to lean on and also fiercely headstrong and independent. I didn’t know if I would like her that much at first, but she grew on me quickly.

There is a sweet love story blossoming between two of the other characters that I don’t want to spoiler. I didn’t expect it, and it was all the more heartwarming when it did happen. Oliver, August, and Ansel were all awesome and unique characters in their own way. I would have liked to learn a bit more of Ansel and Gracie’s story actually, though I do understand this was Oliver’s story first and foremost.

When I didn’t need tissues yet in the first chapter, I did need them all the more as the book reached its climax, as well as at the end. The hopeful part of me was perhaps hoping for a bit of a different outcome, but the ending does fit the book perfectly.

Paper Forests is a very deep and emotional read. It is thought-provoking, it is full of adventure, fantasy, love and friendship, but it is also heart-wrenching. If you plan on reading this book, I would suggest you check out the trigger warnings first, as it really made me cry a lot. I do cry easily, but I know from other reviews that many people felt the same way with this one.

4.5 stars from me for this well-written, deeply emotional and imganitive read.

Thank you all so much for reading!






BBNYA – The Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award – is a fantastic place to find new books by indie authors (or publishers). I have been a panelist from the start, and now I also design the banners and badges for BBNYA, both of which I enjoy immensely. If you want to find out how YOU can take part in BBNYA as an indie author OR book blogger / reviewer, go check out the BBNYA website – I highly recommend the experience!


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