Eyes of the Forest / April Henry / Book Review

Eyes of the Forest


The world is not-so-patiently awaiting R.M. Haldon's next book. The final installment in an epic, Game-of-Thrones-style fantasy series, fans are chomping at the bit, waiting to get their hands on the next piece. Seventeen-year-old Bridget is no different, though she might be more empathetic than most fans. That's one of the reasons she was hired as Haldon's research assistant, after all. It might have been years since he produced a book, but Bob Haldon has had a lot on his plate. Or at least, he has a terrible case of writer's block. But Bob has a plan to get writing again, to force the words to come. It's a last-ditch effort, a move of desperation, and when that plan goes horribly awry, Bob Halton finds himself in danger--and at the mercy of rabid fans. An infamous recluse, nobody recognizes that Bob's in trouble--nobody except for his attentive research assistant. Nobody will believe Bridget's fears, convinced she's just another crazy fangirl, and so she's forced to venture out of the world of fantasy and into reality to bring R.M. Haldon back. Because getting over writer's block turns out to be more than anyone bargained for. 

  • Book Nerd Love: Who doesn't love a budding romance centered around incredibly long and immensely detailed fantasy books? This new relationship is full of love for intimate minutiae, reading aloud, and deeply personal connections to escapist literature. It's both a love letter to fantasy fans and a love story about fantasy fans--or at least a romance featuring a pair of  book nerds falling in love. 
  • POV Shifts: There are a lot of problems that can arise when employing myriad POVs, and this book isn't without problems. But one good thing that arises from the point-of-view shifts in the ultimate contrast between Bridget's everyday, school life and Haldon's less-than-fortunate circumstances. The shifting between these two realities helps to  build tension. It creates a kind of horror-movie effect, where as a reader, I wanted to shout at Bridget when she just wasn't getting the clues laid so clearly before her. And that sort of tension is exactly what the plot needs.
  • Mounting Tension: Everything really comes to a head at the end of the book. Things take a turn for the worst--which is a good thing, in a thriller. The tension skyrockets. The stakes are high. And, best of all, everything is really grounded and down-to-earth. YA thrillers tend more toward melodrama, with all of its flashy thrills, and less toward realism. It is great to find a world that roots itself a bit more in this-could-really-happen plotpoints. 


  • Myriad POVs: Though there are some good things that come with the many points-of-view featured here, there are also some problems. The shifting between focal characters mirrors the style of Game-of-Thrones fantasy--or, in this case, R.M. Haldon fantasy. So there is a point to the change. But there isn't any real distinction made between character voices in this particular work. There should be a narrative difference even in third-person POVs to signal that we're changing perspective. This book could just as easily (and perhaps more effectively) been written in third-person omniscient instead. As it stands, the POV switches feel a little superficial a lot of the time. 
  • Stereotypical Villains: The villains here are a bit of a stereotype, unfortunately. On the one hand, we've got the weirdo, loner, loser, nerd fanatic high schooler who might just fit into the school-shooter profile. He's even got a nasally voice to go with his less-than-desirable characteristics, along with a fictional "alter ego." So, there's that. And on the other hand, we've got the ex-celebrity assistant more interested in quick cash than ethics and morality who, of course, has no respect for art or artists. So, there's also that. 
  • Slow Build: The tension-build in this book is slow, slow, slow. The first half of this book is essentially dedicated to setting up the characters, which is fine enough. I just wish something more would have happened. The action doesn't really get going until the second half--perhaps even the last quarter--which is sad. It doesn't quite deliver on what the blurb promises. It takes its time to get going, and it takes a bit too long for a thriller like this.



Fans of Stephen King's Misery will appreciate another author in dire circumstances. Those who enjoyed the recluse-author-reformed of Ashley Schumacher's Amelia Unabridged will also appreciate this high-tension author-under-pressure.  


Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Date: August 24, 2021
Series: N/A

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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