The Forest Beyond the Earth Matthew S. Cox
Publication date: February 6th 2018
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Under the watchful eye of the Mother Shrine, twelve-year-old Wisp ekes out a simple, but challenging life with Dad, foraging for food and losing herself in old books from the world that came before. She loves the Endless Forest ― except when the Tree Walkers come for her.
In ages past, the great rain of fire and ash destroyed the Earth, wiping out the ancients and everything they had made. Nature has reclaimed much since then, spreading out in a vast forest full of wonder and dread. Ever in fear of being taken away, she follows Dad’s rules without question while learning to survive off the land.
No longer a small child, she accompanies Dad on one of his treks, her first time more than a few steps away from the cabin. A day exploring with him is the happiest time of her life, but joy is short-lived.
A monster follows them home.
Safe in her Haven, she hides while Dad goes outside to confront the beast. She wakes alone the next morning, and waits. Alas, her hope of his return fades with the daylight. Desperate, she breaks his strictest rule and goes outside alone. Not far from the cabin, she discovers his rifle abandoned next to the monster’s strange footprints.
Afraid but determined, Wisp sets off on her own into the Endless Forest to find Dad ― before the Tree Walkers catch her.
4 of 5 Stars
Exceptionally well-written speculative fiction. That sounds awfully wordy, but words are this author's bread and butter and Cox uses them with expert efficiency with his post-apocalyptic adventure, The Forest Beyond the Earth.
Our perspective remains closely tied to Wisp, a pre-teen with one mission in mind as she braves the forest; find her father and bring him home. From the beginning, we are drawn into the world according to Wisp. She knows how to forage and listen to the forest. At night, she reads and hides from the terrifying Tree Walkers. Soon we are given disturbing clues that not all is as it seems. Why does her father keep her in a cage at night? Why isn't she allowed to forage with him? Without giving away too much plot, these disturbing moments build until the moment Wisp's world is turned upside down.
Without her father to protect and guide her, she must brave into an unknown world. And she is far more equipped than she realized. Soon Wisp encounters other humans, a few good, all struggling to survive in this dangerous land where resources are precious. Hints of what led to this dystopian world are revealed piece by piece as Wisp is driven beyond the forest and into the wasteland. Like any epic hero's quest, she encounters helpful friends, villains and a very eccentric old man. As she is exposed to wider perspectives, Wisp begins to internally question the life her father built for them.
While some imagery was disturbing and sad in equal measure, The Forest Beyond the Earth manages to inspire a message of hope. Cox weaves together both dark fantasy and horror with a deft hand. A terrifying world that one brave girl proves she's not only capable but a survivor in her own right. An all-encompassing, engrossing journey, I loved every minute of it.
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour.