Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pub Date: 2009, Bloomsbury USA
Source: Purchased from BN.com
He bent closer to her ear and whispered, "I'm going to teach you to climb trees."
Ever since her brother Razo introduced her to the trees, Rin has turned to them for peace or reassurance, even direction -- that is, until the day they seem to reject her. Rin is sure something is wrong with her, something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest, from trusting herself with anyone at all.
When Razo returns to the city after a visit home, Rin accompanies him to the palace in hopes of finding a new sense of herself. But a mysterious threat haunts Bayern, and Rin joins the magical girls she thinks of as the Fire Sisters -- Isi, Enna, and Dasha -- as they venture into the woods toward the kingdom of Kel... where someone wants them dead.
Oh, I am so glad that Hale opted to add a fourth book to The Books of Bayern series! After my disappointment with River Secrets, Forest Born proved to be an awesome read and I enjoyed it every bit as much as The Goose Girl and Enna Burning... maybe even more! And again, I have to wonder if focusing on female characters is really the key with Shannon Hale's stories?
Even Razo is a much better character in this book than he was in River Secrets. He is jovial, amusing, and full of personality and his bantering exchanges with Rin were lively and witty. Truly, the vast majority of the dialogue in Forest Born is particularly strong. And as for Rin, yes she does see herself as flawed, but she is not a whiny miss like her brother was regarding his flaws. She also wants to do everything possible to try to right her perceive wrongs, despite her fears and the uncertainty of the future. Isi, Enna, and Dash return, of course -- solving the problems that crop up for Bayern, as usual.
Boy, does the plot just keep moving right along this time around, as well! This book is action-packed with a couple of pretty big twists -- one of which I saw coming and the other I did not. You know what was missing, though? The touch of romance that Hale normally sprinkles throughout these stories. The funny thing is, I didn't even realize this until the book was nearly over. I'll admit I missed the romance, but obviously it must not have been a requirement for my enjoyment of the story if it took me so long to realize it wasn't there!
I highly, highly recommend The Books of Bayern if you enjoy YA Fantasy and strong female heroines. I am so glad someone thought to recommend them to me a couple of years ago and I'm only sorry it took me so long to get around to reading them!