Friday, 24 January 2014

Review: The Drowned Forest

The Drowned Forest

Publication Date:  February 8th 2014                 
~A copy was provided by Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~
Losing Holly is the hardest thing Jane has ever had to endure ... until Holly comes back.

Best friends Jane and Holly have jumped off the bluff over their Alabama reservoir hundreds of times. But one day, Holly’s jump goes wrong. Her body never comes up, yet something else does—a sad creature of mud, full of confusion and sorrow. It’s Holly, somehow, trapped and mixed up with the river. And if Jane can’t do something to help, Holly will take everybody down with her—even the people they love the most.

Blending Looking for Alaska’s theme of lost friendship with Stephen King’s sense of small-town horror, The Drowned Forest is a Southern gothic tale of grief, redemption, and the mournful yearning of an anguished soul
. .

Right, I am just going to say it and get it out of the way.
I'm not religious.

When requesting The Drowned Forest, from the blurb I had no idea that it was even  A) Religious  and B) Focused on religion.
And it did, focus on religion, a lot.

Personally, if I'd have known I wouldn't have requested it, since I'm not really into reading that type of thing, and I was expecting this creepy thriller and ended up feeling like I was being preached at.
I would've avoided it and I wouldn't be sorry for it, and because of that I'm rating it out of my preference, and felt like it should've mentioned the heavy religious aspect so you know what you're getting yourself in for.

But I'm not going to apologise for being something I'm not, and with religion and especially inside of this novel, I found it to be a little judgemental and condescending. Or rather, I should say I don't find religion judgemental because people are judgemental, but I hate when just because someone is religious they don't think they're being judgemental just because they are religious.
Our MC Jane, is to put it nicely,  a hypocrite. She judged several people based on the fact they're in a band, dress grungy and don't go to church, and she thinks it's okay to judge them like that, and laugh about it. And I'm not going to lie, I was glad when she had that blown up in her face.

There is character development and she gets to see things through  new eyes, and live on the other side for a little bit, and though she was still a little harsh and a little unlikable, she's not the Jane we started with. She's born again, and not exactly in a religious way. What she goes through and what she has to do gives her a different view, and she was better for it.
You're probably thinking I didn't like The Drowned Forest, but actually, I did. Despite the preachy aspect in the beginning, the writing was addicting and engaging, and though we're being told through Jane talking/writing to Holly you'd think you'd feel a bit isolated, and wouldn't connect to it as easily, but you get a real sense of being there, which was surprising.

What also was a surprise, was that it is pretty dark and quite gruesome, and  deal with other aspects of hoodoo and spiritualism,  and the preconceived ideals of it.

" Many people incorrectly believe that Spiritualism is Hoodoo but the two are not the same. There are many Hoodoos who are devout Spiritualist Christians. "

You see that in The Drowned Forest,  with the congregation and others speaking of it as witchery,  and then there's the others who believe in how beautiful things can become twisted. The diversity of characters,  that are all at different times in their lives, trying to do the best they can, and the friendship between them is very realistic and genuine.
The Drowned Forest isn't an easy read,  it makes you think, and you definitely come out of it different than you started. I'm still glad that I read it, because beside it being about religion, it's focus point is on  life, love, faith and friendship, the trails of loss and trying to go on without that loss. How to learn to carry it with you without it breaking you.

Actual Rating:  Between 2.5-3/5