Review | Pocket Forest by Kimberly Karalius

NOTE: Did you enjoy Alyssa’s ‘hello’ review the other day? This one is Christina’s! We’re still getting up and running, getting in touch with our new reviewers and such, but we wanted to let you know – we’re still very much here. This is also a cross-post from an old, now-defunct book blog that shall remain unnamed.

Reviewer: Christina
Release Date: October 16, 2013 (ebook)
Publisher: Kimberly Karalius
Age Group: YA
Genres: Magical realism, fairy tale
Pages: 
58 (ebook)
Format/Source: Kindle, bought
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Rating: 5/5

Since childhood, Harriet has dreamed of exploring forests with Stig Hemming, the boy lost to her in the frayed bonds of an old family friendship. Years later, in the wake of losing her mother, Harriet finally meets Stig only to discover a frightened young man clawing to regain a life no longer his. 

The darker parts of the forest beckon, where ghost-dogs patrol a crumbling boarding school and treasure, once lost, must be snatched back with bravery. 

This contemporary original fairy tale, complete with all the attendant comforts and threats, will pull you into the woodlands of the heart. 

Pocket Forest was originally published as a limited-edition print chapbook by Deathless Press. My only regret here is that I couldn’t get my hands on the chapbook in time, because I’ve heard that it’s beautifully crafted.

I’m somewhat acquainted with the author, Kimberly Karalius, on the writing website Figment.com. Before I joined, I’d admired her work from afar for a while – Kimberly is one of the most popular authors on the site, and for good reason. She’s got a reputation for spinning some of the most beautiful, whimsical stories around that appeal to all ages. Her unique brand of magical realism goes straight to the heart.

We’ve gotten to talking on Figment a few times, making me even more of a fan, since Kimberly is practically a saint. Come on, guys. She’s just awesome.

Therefore it stands to reason that my expectations were high when I opened up Pocket Forest on my Kindle. I’m glad to say that I was not disappointed, not in the least. At a mere 58-or-so pages, the little story is neither rushed nor unsatisfying. In fact, while I was reading it (in a delightful one sitting thanks to its bite-sized length), I could almost smell the wet earth beneath me.

Harriet and Stig were both intriguing characters, with surprising layers despite the brevity of the book. They were so adorable with each other from the very beginning – and their backstories made me feel for them. That, my friends, is hard to do in less than a hundred pages. Both of them had an instinctive calling to the forest that set the atmosphere of the story wonderfully and rooted that magical element that kept me reading.

The real treasure in Kimberly’s writing is the little details that she manages to inject to make the plotline richer. Porcelain deer, ghost dogs, a ruby on a principal’s finger… the random collections of objects and feelings are a testament to the happenstance nature of everyday life. And the foreshadowing! Gosh, some of the most seemingly innocuous things turned out to be important. That jolt of why didn’t I see that is something I hate-yet-love, but luckily Pocket Forest made me love it. A lot.

Okay, well, this review ended up much longer than I expected. But it was for a good reason, definitely. Overall: Pocket Forest is a quick, delicious read, and the $1.99 you need to buy it for your Kindle is totally worth it. Kimberly Karalius strikes again – and I’ll eagerly await more of her work in the future!

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