You know the books that just come at the perfect time for you?
This was one for me!! It is such a lovely and perfect mix of whimsical and cozy, but also packed tight with inner darkness and all things monstrous and bloody. I truly love books about monster girls and soft boys 😩👌🏻 and this did it perfectly. It also felt like a fairytale, both in style and in plot. I love love how the story unravelled. It begins with the softness of a brother caring for his baby sister and baking bread and mapping the stars — against the backdrop of a vicious wood that kills all who enters with the song of tree sirens who hunt souls.
Owen was precious. The ultimate softest of soft boys, and he is 17 and spends his day caring for his 2-year-old wild little sister, baking bread and tending the garden, playing cello and then at night mapping the stars with his father. He gives people chances and he’s vulnerable, but also a little awkward. And it broke me!! when the book!!! decided to harden him up. He actually doesn’t have a whole lot of direction to start, and I think I appreciated that? He was content — and then the world stepped in to ruin his life. (Owen and I both say thanks for that 🤨)
And then there is Seren! She is a tree siren, created by her mother (witch of the wood) to kill people and gather their souls. When she meets Owen (by, you know, nearly killing him) it awakens this craving to connect with her humanity. She hates that she’s been created to be a monster. But she’s powerless against her mother’s ultimate power. I loved the contrast of their purposes in life — but also how, under the layers, they really are similar people.
Their collision is violent and then gentle, it’s tentative, then lovely. It really is a gentle romance and I loved how it blossomed — and also suffered.
Other things I loved:
- complex villains
- the contrast of gentle people in absolutely brutal situations
- it was dark but not written in a gory way? more fairytale style the entire time
- both Seren and Owen never never quitting 🥺 despite the brutality they face
- the creepy forest and the darkness of the trees! I LOVED how sentient it became.
- the ending is to make us 😙👌🏻suffer beautifully
I’m so glad I read this one and it really fit my heart just right.
It’s a slower paced fantasy, caught up in sensory details and lovely writing (a bit repetitious at times was my only drawback). It’s both whimsical and lovely, and packed with heartache and war and bloodshed. It contrasts loveliness and violence in a thoughtful way and the ending was so perfect.
(Side note: Audiobook was amazing too! Loved the narrators.)
The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths. For centuries, a witch has harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow her domain.
When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her.