Hey, writers and readers!
It’s not a good month without an indie novel or two. Today I’ll be reviewing The Forest House by Tamarak Rokicki, or the first novel in The Ashar Prophecies series. Check out the review below and make sure to give your two cents in the comments section if you’ve already read the book, too!
Rating: 4 stars
Hera Comb grew up knowing anxiety and loss up close and personal. Going through high school didn’t make things easier to overcome the grief of her father leaving her family and watching her mother and sister grow distant and uncaring.
So when she’s kidnapped by psychic vampires, she’s not sure which life is more frightening. Hera learns from her captor, Aethen, that she is also a psychic vampire—a being that feeds on human energy as opposed to blood. Not only that, but he reveals that he brought her to the Ashar Coven to help her become a full-fledged psychic vampire and embrace her destiny as their High Priestess incarnate.
Hera soon realizes that this isn’t a joke and she must tap into her abilities before the Wretched—psychic vampires who feed off of pain and agony—come to fight the Ashar Coven in an all-out war. The only problem is that Hera is kept in the dark and is unsure which side truly has her interests at heart.
What I Enjoyed:
I didn’t think that I would be super crazy about another vampire lore novel. As in, vampires seem a bit cliché to me, so I wasn’t sure how Rokicki would make her novel stand out from all the others. Turns out she pulled it off quite nicely by focusing on explaining her lore rather than the sensuality of vampires feeding on unsuspecting humans. I think that part always creeped me out, so I enjoyed Rokick’s take on vampirism.
The psychic vampires feed off of energy, which seemed like they reached out via meditation to take a sample of energy or aura. The victims don’t notice the decrease in energy and they don’t become vampires either. Each of the vampire characters have different powers as well. The Wretched, on the other hand, feed off the negative energy humans experience when tortured or in serious emotional pain.
The main enjoyment for me was the lore and background history tied to the story—it seemed much more thought out and it’s meticulously revealed throughout the novel. Just when you think it’s too simple, there’s another new detail and thus a new wrinkle in your theory. Despite the various fantasy elements in the novel, it’s still clearly explained as they happen. You can tell Rockiki is in her element and enjoys sharing this story with her readers.
What I Didn’t Enjoy:
I know I’m the party pooper, but I wasn’t a fan of the romantic elements. Hera informs us early on that she’s sixteen, and Aethen is in his early twenties. It made me uncomfortable that he was interested in her even though she’s a minor. From what I can tell, vampires age like normal people. So, I don’t think he’s hundreds of years old like Edward Cullen but their connection made the romance not as hot.
Marina, an old flame and fellow vampire, is also downright mean and plays the jealous ex throughout the novel. It often sets Hera over the edge and puts the cast in jeopardy just because she can’t handle that Hera is supposed to be the leader. Basically, there were some slight pet peeves throughout the romance aspects that made the characters human, but still slightly cliché.
My hope is that Rokicki will flip the script on me. I’m a big fan of being shocked by the sequel!
My Final Thoughts
With the vampire tropes we left behind in the early 2000s, I wasn’t sure if anyone could pull off the vampire novel in a new, fresh way. Rokicki probably saw the same challenge and rose to meet it. I bet you’ll agree with me, too!
Additional warnings: there are depictions of sexual assault in this novel, so if you find that triggering, consider skipping some scenes. Other than that, there aren’t any intimate or sex scenes in the novel, so you’ll likely find this novel appropriate for high school readers and beyond.
Hopefully I shared enough about The Forest House to still pique your curiosity without giving too much away. If you’d like to learn more about Tamara Rokicki and her work, you can catch up with her via social media:
Do you enjoy novels about vampires? What do you like or dislike about vampire lore? Share with me in the comments! Don’t forget you can see all of my other book reviews by checking our the Book Reviews tab.