Cover of Seven Endless Forests: Profile of a young woman on a green background. The profile is filled with a green forest and has a sword in the middle.

About the Book

Title: Seven Endless Forests
Published: 2020
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Talky Talk: Tales of Old
Bonus Factors: Retelling, Epic Quest
Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Entranced

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

GIF from Montell Jordan's music video "This Is How We Do It"

This cover is perfect, both for facing out on my shelves and for the story. It says “there’s magic and adventure to be had within,” and it’s not at all wrong. I also love how nice it looks paired with the cover of The Boneless Mercies, which, while not a direct prequel, is set in the same world.

The Deal:

Torvi has lost everything. First, her mother and her lover were killed by snow sickness. Then, her sister was taken by a band of vicious roving wolf-priests. Her mother always said that Torvi wasn’t the type to go on quests and adventures, but Torvi’s willing to do pretty much anything to get her sister back.

BFF Charm: Big Sister

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Torvi is way cooler and more level-headed than I could ever hope to be, but she doesn’t see it in herself. She’s spent most of her life being told she won’t amount to much, but deep inside she knows that’s wrong; that it’s only a matter of time and gumption before she’ll do great things. She just has to believe in herself a little. I would love to be by her side on her quest, cheering her on. (Plus, #vaguespoilers, but her actual sister’s kind of the worst.) She’s a whole lot more mature than I was at her age, and maybe even still, but I’d really try to be the kind of support she needed.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Seven Endless Forests deals with relationships in a pretty matter-of-fact way. Torvi lost her one true love to an illness, and she pretty much closes off her heart to any possibility for real love after that. She’s game to have sex with people and feels fondness for people, but she’s very upfront about the fact that they’ll never take the place in her heart reserved for the man who died.

Talky Talk: Tales of Old

Tucholke’s writing, as I’ve mentioned before in my reviews of her books, always seems like something out of time, like she’s an ancient magical being who’s come to the future to spread tales of the past. If I didn’t know this was a work of new fiction, It would be easy to believe that this was a story found in a very old, very ancient, possibly magic book and repackaged for a modern audience. Seven Endless Forests isn’t as dreamlike as some of her other works, but it’s no less lush, no less delicious to dive into and get lost. I wish all epic tales read as easily as this one.

But that’s not to say that Tucholke’s writing is at all simplistic; it’s quite the opposite, actually, and she asks her readers to really focus and pay attention and even sometimes figure things out for themselves with only slight context to help. But it’s all part of the enjoyment. If the book was easy, one wouldn’t have the same feeling of achievement when they reached the end.

Tucholke’s imagination continues to blow me away with this book, too. The worldbuilding in Seven Endless Forests is expansive and detailed, down to the varieties of trees and colors of rivers.

Bonus Factor: Retelling

Maria and Tony from West Side Story singing on a balcony.

Seven Endless Forests is a wild (in the sense of a wild forest, not a wild party) retelling of the King Arthur myth, with a woman at the forefront rather than a man, and much more unpolished adventurers along on the quest. And although it’s a retelling, it totally stands on its own feet as something unique and special.

Bonus Factor: Epic Quest

Characters from Goonies studying a treasure map

I like to think I’d be OK traveling with a band of rugged adventurers on a quest such as the one Torvi goes on in this book, but then I think about how much I like indoor plumbing and air conditioning and realize that I’m much better off doing my adventuring in my imagination. Plus, I’d probably be crap in a fight, and there’s a lot of that in this book.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting

Evil Dan Scott from One Tree Hill

Torvi’s mother, although Torvi thinks of her with love, was a total shrew. Her belittling of Torvi and what she might someday become is frequently referenced in the book, and although it’s easy to see that she was dead wrong about her daughter, it’s painful to read as Torvi has to overcome that ingrained self-doubt.

Relationship Status: Entranced

You’ve got me under your spell, Book, and I don’t need—or want—a prince to come break it. I’m happy this way.

Literary Matchmaking

The Boneless Mercies

If you liked this book, you should also check out Tucholke’s The Boneless Mercies.

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1)

For another lady-led (although not entirely gender-bent) Arthurian retelling, try Kiersten White’s The Guinevere Deception.

Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace #1)

And for another folklore-heavy quest book, check out Kathryn Purdie’s Bone Crier’s Moon.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Seven Endless Forests is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.