Seven Endless ­Forests

Farrar. Apr. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374307097.
Gr 9 Up–Set in the same world as The Boneless Mercies, Tucholke’s latest will win readers with a bold, female-led fantasy filled with sisterhood, swords, and adventure. After their farmstead is decimated by plague, Vorselander sisters Torvi and Morgunn head out on a quest. Legend has it that the girl who pulls out a sword embedded in a stone tree is fated to become the ruler of a forgotten kingdom. But when Morgunn is kidnapped by Uther, a charismatic female wolf-priest, Torvi finds herself on a rescue mission. The thrill of Tucholke’s fast-paced novel stems from the complex world-building and lush, evocative language. The culture is Scandinavian-inflected but very much original, with sagas, tales, and customs sometimes hinted at, sometimes explored. With woman-led farms, priesthoods, and egalitarian bandit-bands as the norm, female freedom is so ingrained that Torvi and Morgunn take their right to learn, explore, fight, and love as a given. This world has a comforting physicality. Characters are constantly touching, not only in fulfilling sexual relationships, but through the embraces between friends, the nudges of comrades, the tumble of combat. Despite the recurrence of Arthurian names, the connection is tenuous in comparison to the rich creativity of Tucholke’s narrative.
VERDICT This will delight older teens looking for an exciting, immersive, and original feminist fantasy.

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