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Forest Born, by Shannon Hale: Review

Rin used to feel at home with the trees—as if they understood her, the way no one else could. But something has changed in the way the Forest speaks to her, something that fills her with darkness and guilt instead of the peace it once brought. Rejected by the trees, she travels to the city with her brother, Razo, in search of a new Rin.

When a mysterious threat against Bayern is discovered, three powerful nature-speakers—Isi, Enna and Dasha—set out to find answers and protect their vulnerable kingdom. Desperate to find the same courage and strength in herself, Rin joins them, never imagining that she could be the strongest weapon Bayern has against an enemy with plans to kill them all.

Forest Born was my absolute favourite of Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern, from the beautiful front cover to the brand new protagonist who touched me profoundly and personally. As the last book in the series, it features the full ensemble of beloved characters, from Isi and Geric, to Fin and Enna, to my personal favourite: Razo! I loved the final glimpse into their camaraderie as Hale brought this heart-warming cast together one last time.

Rin was without a doubt my most relatable Books of Bayern protagonist. I felt a connection with her introspective nature, and a very real sense of empathy for her struggle to find acceptance and self-worth. She is such a genuine, heartfelt character, and strong the strong family ties she shares with Razo make her all the more appealing and sincere. I loved watching her discover her own hidden strength while battling regret and self-criticism. She resonated with me in a thoughtful, gentle way throughout the entirety of the story.

Content Notes: Enna has no qualms about using expletives, but Hale avoids explicit swear words by referring to them in terms of general "cursing." The villain is all but worshipped by followers, and characters use nature-speaking to bring a friend back to life. No over-the-top violence or gore.

Forest Born is an evocative, stunningly thoughtful story bound up in such powerful themes as friendship, goodness, and family. It brings the Books of Bayern to a beautiful conclusion—a bittersweet farewell to a truly wonderful series!

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