Into The Forest, Again: Atmospheric Reading for Autumn

In literature, the woods are an in-between place where there are no rules. There is magic, which is often a form of trickery—and sometimes, the dirtiest tricks reveal the starkest truths. Those who wander may lose or find themselves, but they will never come out unchanged. If you’re in the mood for atmospheric autumn reading, there is only one place to go: into the forest, again.

 

The Bear and the Nightingaleby Katherine Arden

In this fairy-tale clash of magic and modernity set in the Russian wilderness, Vasilisa has been content growing up as the baby among her many siblings. Her world changes when her father brings home a new stepmother who is not about to abide by old superstitions. With the village’s protections weakened, soon Vasilisa is fighting for her way of life against the demons of old.

 

The Beast is an Animal, by Peternelle van Arsdale

When soul-eaters devastate the village Alys grew up in, she and the other children are sent to be raised in a neighboring village. The strict rules of her new home cause Alys to seek the freedom of the forest, but the danger lurks on all sides, and maybe even from within.

 

Flame in the Mist, by Renée Ahdieh

Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai. While she is en route to meet her betrothed, her convoy is attacked by bandits, leaving her the only survivor. There is only one thing for Mariko to do: infiltrate their camp in the woods to exact her revenge. She doesn’t expect to find herself along the way, especially while pretending to be a boy.

 

The Hazel Woodby Melissa Albert

Alice has gotten used to living with her grandmother’s cult-classic novel, set in the mythical Hinterlands, although she prefers not to deal with the superfans. When her mother is stolen away, Alice is told to stay away from her grandmother’s estate “The Hazel Wood,” and soon learns the Hinterlands may not exist only on the page.

 

A Reaper at the Gates, by Sabaa Tahir

This is the third in Tahir’s blockbuster An Ember in the Ashes series. The forest shows up in A Torch Against the Night, but in A Reaper at the Gates it is front and center, where Elias is left fighting against his responsibilities and desires. I can only say so much without spoilers—just read it.

 

Roses and Rotby Kat Howard

Sisters Imogen and Marin have been accepted to a prestigious arts retreat. Imogen, a writer, and Marin, a dancer, are both escaping their past through their art. But darkness creeps in, forcing them to contend with how much they are willing to sacrifice for their future. Imogen may be penning a fairy tale, but the fae may not be content to stay on the page.

 

Sisters of the Winter Wood, by Rena Rossner

Liba and Laya’s parents travel to their father’s village, leaving the sisters to rely on each other and come to terms with a family legacy more complicated than they could have imagined. Even as their way of life and community are threatened they must deal with strangers in the woods, murders, and first love.

 

Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

The malevolent power of the Wood threatens Agnieszka’s way of life, but her community remains protected by the sacrifice of a girl to the Dragon every ten years. Though Agnieszka is part of the group he can choose from, everyone knows he will take Kasia. Until he doesn’t.

 

What Should Be Wild, by Julia Fine

Maise’s touch is lethal, and her father keeps the two of them isolated on an estate next to the wilderness. When he disappears, she must enter the woods she has been warned against in order to find him. And while she must come to terms with her power in the wider world, something lurks in the trees . . . .

 

Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones

The legend of the Goblin King has inspired Liesl’s music, but every year her dreams of being a composer feel further away as real life take precedence. Then the Goblin King steals Liesl’s sister, and she ventures to the Underground to save her.

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Melody.Ekstrom@gmail.com'

About the Author:

Melody’s love of words has taken her on a variety of adventures, beyond the adventures on the page, including librarian, bookseller, literary intern, dramaturg, and script reader. Reading hundreds of books a year, she's constantly seeking that next literary fix.

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