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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Paper Forests by Tegan Anderson is a fascinating story that follows the journey of children caught in a place that exists between life and death. Parents in a therapy group talk about their ailing children and the counselor advises that the children are in Paper Forest while their mortal bodies combat the illness in the hospital. Eighteen-year-old Oliver wakes up in the strange Paper Forest where he meets Gracie, Ansel, Catherine, August, and Porcelain. Their new world is fascinating, one filled with magic, but it also has monsters. Lilac Bonneville, the Queen and leader of the people living freely in the Forest, invites the children to stay and makes bold promises for a future with them. However, Oliver’s journey will lead him to confront his life back in the mortal world. Faced with his past and secrets in his life, will Oliver choose to evolve in the Forest or will he find his way back home?
Tegan Anderson's Paper Forests is a hugely imaginative work that invites parents with terminally ill children to find comfort by imagining that their children are in a better place. There is so much in store for readers: the prose is excellent and it is sprinkled with wonderfully crafted dialogues, the characters are lovable and real, and the setting is stunningly accomplished. Anderson imagines a limbo that has a lot of exciting things to offer, a world that will occupy the imaginations of readers even after they have turned the last page. The narrative interweaves the painful experience of parents beside their children in hospital beds with the children’s adventures in an uncharted world of magic and monsters. The first-person narrative voice is brilliantly executed and it perfectly translates the worldview and the emotions of the protagonist. This suspenseful novel will have anyone eager to find out what happens to the characters at the end.