*I received a free ARC of this book via Voracious Readers Only and with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Any girl who goes into the Forbidden Forest never comes out again. Except the one who did.
Larkin should have been watching her little sister, should have paid more attention to the trees looming over her family’s fields. Now Sela is gone. Knowing full well the danger of the forest and its beast, Larkin goes after her anyway. With her sister clutched in her arms, she manages to escape, but not before discovering the truth lurking beneath the wicked boughs.
She may have evaded the beast once, but with the full force of his magic now fixated on her, she isn’t sure how much longer she can resist.
Stolen Enchantress is the first in a planned larger Forbidden Forest story arc, introducing the characters, their world, and their magic and setting the ball rolling from local conflict to potential all-out war.
There is a bit of everything here: romance, mystery, adventure, magic. The book is listed on Amazon in the ‘Teen / Young Adult’ section and it certainly has a suitable tone in typical fantasy-adventure style, but I would say it was aimed at the higher end of that age bracket due to some of the sexual content. It is not graphic or gratuitous, but there are references to incest and rape, and more than one surreptitious pregnancy.
The characterisation here is great. Even the side characters like Garrot, Hunter, Nesha and Alorica are more complex than the initial introduction suggests, and develop as the story progresses. The central character is, of course, Larkin and she is a total badass. Over the course of the novel she seems to take enough damage from various sources to KO the average Terminator, yet it barely seems to slow her roll! I really felt for her in all that she went through, physically and emotionally, and have my fingers crossed that she manages to power through this series to a well-deserved happy ending!
Stolen Enchantress was a great fantasy-action-romance and has inspired me to seek out more of Amber Argyle’s writing whilst I wait for the next in this series.
Larkin willed herself to keep moving, to keep her attention on her sister’s fading prints as the forest’s anger grew into a living thing that gnashed and clawed. The ground here didn’t take tracks as well as the mud of the plowed field, but she saw enough signs of Sela’s passage – a freshly broken stick, a stray footprint, more little mud balls – to believe she was heading in the right direction.
And then a giant picked up the forest and spun it – at least that’s what it felt like. She grabbed the nearest tree and held on, the bark biting into her hands. Anger and hatred stung like a thousand hornets. She had a sudden urge to do something. Some nameless word rested on the tip of her tongue, but she lost it in her desperate attempt to hold on to the tree.
“You think you can frighten me,” Larkin gasped. “I’ve known hatred and pain my entire life. You can’t scare me!”
– Amber Argyle, Stolen Enchantress
Stolen Enchantress is available on Amazon right now!