Review: The Drowned Forest by Kristopher Reisz

The Drowned Forest
Kristopher Reisz
Release Date: February 8, 2014

Holly and Jane have jumped off the bridge over their Alabama reservoir hundreds of times. But one day, Holly's jump goes wrong. Her body never comes up, but something else does—a sad creature of mud, full of confusion and sorrow. Jane knows it's Holly, somehow, trapped and mixed up with the river. But Holly doesn't know she’s dead, and that anything she touches will die, too . . . even those she loves the most.

Meanwhile, Jane's family doesn't believe what she knows about Holly. They are threatening to place Jane in a mental institution, and her pastor thinks she is crossing over into the Devil's playground. In spite of her community's doubts, Jane can tell it's Holly, and she has to put her to rest.
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My Review:
This is so different from anything paranormal that I’ve read lately. It’s hauntingly beautiful in descriptions and weaves the backstory into the plot easily so that you get a sense of the superstitions and a time long forgotten where not only is the land a living entity with a very real life of its own, but it pulls at the people with its restless call.

Jane isn’t dealing well with losing her best friend. Holly drowned after jumping off a bridge they’d jumped off a thousand times. In a place known as ‘The Drowned Forest’, she never surfaces. One day, a catfish coughs up Holly’s promise ring from Tony onto the river banks and the word ‘Help’ is inscribed on it. Together with Holly’s brokenhearted boyfriend Tony, Jane must find a way to save Holly’s soul, which haunts the riverside as a mud filled rotten thing and kills everything she touches. Holly doesn’t know she’s dead, but knows she’s lost. Will Jane’s strong faith in God be enough to save her friend from an eternal hell trapped in the forgotten trees under the lake? Or will she lose her mind and succumb to the call of the river?

I absolutely loved this story. It was so stunning and visually brilliant that I felt I was there alongside Jane as she runs away from her church going environment to discover a way to help her friend. Her love for her Holly and her strong faith in God are challenged in every way possible when things that shouldn’t be able to happen or even exist, threaten her life in every way possible. Out of her normal environment, Jane befriends a group of friends in a band who are Tony’s friends, learns to play the guitar and finds there is more to believing in God, love and what is right than she previously believed. The world is filled with the supernatural, alongside the contrast of faith and God. The fantastical story telling draws you into the fanatical state of Jane’s mind and the absolute terror she and her friends experience from the horror surrounding the very much alive river of the ‘The Drowned Forest’.

Brilliant! I highly recommend this unusual tale of ghosts and folklore. It’s very much rooted in religion and may be off putting to some readers, but I felt that the religion itself was a very active character in this story and a strong influence on the entire plotline, which makes it even more hauntingly beautiful to read.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

5 stars all the way!

About the Author:
Kristopher Reisz writes books about witches' carnivals, heart-broken werewolves, and mushroom gods. 

He fancies himself a gentleman of leisure, just minus the 'gentleman' part.
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