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  • Writer's pictureLeoOtherland

Don’t Let the Forest In Review

Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Feiwel & Friends, for the ARC copy they provided.

It’s rare I find an author at that perfect intersection of all the things that make me, me (neuraldivergence, queerness, and darkly beautiful aesthetic), but Drews is right there in that niche, and I am here for it.

Did I make the mistake of reading this on a plane that felt like it was shaking out of the sky? Yes. Do I regret it? No. This book is a beautifully painful delight from beginning to end, and the way Drews writes is pure magic and poetry, wrapped in a dark tangle of thorns. One hundred percent could not get enough of Don’t Let the Forest In, and was left wishing for more after the last word.

Somewhere in the middle of her book Drews writes, “Andrew would write them as a story someday. He’d make the blackest parts beautiful and he’d write the kisses bloody and the vengeance sweet.” Reading these lines, I couldn’t help feeling Drews was describing her own work; she couldn’t have written a more apt description of her book if she’d tried. Don’t Let the Forest In is full of blackly beautiful nightmares and sweet, bloody kisses. The love is as sharp-edged as violence of the monsters.

I am not exaggerating in any way, Drews' style, deeply alive characters, and vivid depictions of what it is like living inside a neurodivergent brain left me feeling seen and validated in so many ways it would take hours to express them all.

On the same note, Drews' complex and utterly virile queer characters gave me another sense of validation. Truly, it is shitty to have to feel as though you need to have luck to be loved as you are. The heartrending reality of that fact is one Drews captures effortlessly in a book about monsters, not queerness in and of itself. Reading this gorgeous blend of all things that can make a person a person just made me love Don’t Let the Forest In more because this book is as multilayered as any individual.

deep breath

I could ramble about all the things I enjoyed in this book, like ramble on and on and ON. I was completely obsessed for days, and left wanting more when I read the last lines. And yet… the end was satisfying. In Drews' own words, “He needed to think up an ending cruel enough to appease the monsters, but soft enough so when this was all over he could fit himself against Thomas’s side and be safe.” The moment I read those words, I knew this was Drews speaking about herself, yet again, and held my breath to see what ending she would give me.

And Drews did not disappoint.

The last line in the acknowledgements of Don’t Let the Forest In is, “May this one haunt you.” Drews, I am haunted, thank you.

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