Shadows of the Forest – Emma Michaels (Review)

Title: Shadows of the Forest
Author: Emma Michaels
Publisher: CHBB Publishing, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal

**I received a copy of this book free from and the publisher in exchange for a review**

This review can be found on my BlogTeacherofYA’s Tumblr, or my Goodreads page

My Review:

So…this cover is gorgeous, right? Just super duper cover love?

Yeah…that’s what I thought, too.

I HATE when the book inside doesn’t match the book outside. But I signed up to review this book, and I was able to get through it, as it is shorter than most books (144 pages), but I have to admit, every page was a battle.

Let me first get into the plot…as best as I can understand it…and I can’t give too much away because it’s so short…

Lily wakes up in a hospital, and her twin brother is in critical condition. But things aren’t normal in the hospital. There are rules that can’t be broken. 

  1. Do not enter the West Wing (which is never explained or mentioned again)
  2. Do not go outside after darkness falls (yet another rule that really didn’t apply)
  3. There is only one exit, The Gates

So Lily remembers that there was an accident, and somehow her twin brother, the only person left in the world since her parents’ deaths, made a pact to keep her alive. But Lily doesn’t want to live without him. Cole is the good twin, the better twin, and he deserves a shot at life.

As Lily discovers, the “hospital” is not what it seems…actually, nothing is. Japanese folklore blends with Michaels’ storytelling to make what could have been a wonderful story.

Alas, could have been.

Here’s a trailer that will also explain about the same amount that I did. Makes it look all cool and mysterious.

Is It Classroom-Appropriate?


I mean, it is…but it needs a major editing job. More on that below.

Age Range:

Honestly, it could be okay for middle grade readers. The confusion from the story isn’t age-related. It’s mainly content-related. Again, I’ll explain in the “End Result” portion, which will be much longer than usual. Normally I can talk about the premise and make some comments along the way…but with this short of a story, I really can’t make comments there. So I’ll end this now…and make this as painless as possible…the opposite of my reading experience.

End Result:

Ok. I should have known there was a problem when the author who listed the three “rules” seemed to confuse semicolons and commas. They were completely switched around in use. I think I have to blame EAL editing for this. The book was professionally edited, yet I found a monster amount of errors. Here I can FINALLY talk about this. 

First, I fault this company for the shoddy editing…it wasn’t bad enough to DNF (ahem, Slumber, ahem), but it was bad enough that I started highlighting the problems (and this was NOT an ARC):

“Some part of me argued that I didn’t want to be go.”
“I placed my hand over my heart and pled with it to lead me to him.”

Tricksters spirit, huh? Alright.”

“As though the forest were holding my emotions, my body, and my very soul at its entrance, testing my resolve.” (Frag)

“Even knowing he was only holding his own tempter…” 

“I could feel the hart move it’s forehead to mine.” (Not possessive)

“I liked what I saw and I wasn’t not sure…”

“I miss stepped…”

“…but I couldn’t quiet grab the map.”

Get the idea??

That wasn’t it. I can ignore those things if the story is good. But the book was weird. It wasn’t horrible…but it was confusing. Too short in some parts, too long in others. The story had a good message, and I don’t think telling you that the father was abusive will spoil the story…so there was a lot about loving yourself and feeling worthy. I even began to tear up at one part…but then it went on and on and on…how does a 144 page book feel long during certain parts? It needed more exposition and way less ending.

It’s a shame, I know. The idea and the story had potential all over the place, but alas, that’s all it had. And this is hard for me to write. I hate bad reviews. I really do.

So the end result?

I give Shadows of the Forest ★★☆☆☆. One for the story and one for being able to read it (and I’ll always love the cover).

So it gets:

Luckily, right after I read another book from ebooksforreview and it was MUCH better. Happy to read that one. But when it comes to Shadows of the Forest, I recommend skipping reading it and just appreciate the pretty cover.

Cause the cover is pretty. Such a shame…

Happy Reading, y’all!! This is my first Beat The Backlist Book! I’ll be making a post about the challenge, as I’m participating in Beat The Backlist and the Netgalley/Edelweiss challenge, and I have two books toward that challenge! Yay!

69 thoughts on “Shadows of the Forest – Emma Michaels (Review)

  1. Your description of this story immediately reminded me of a manga I read a few years ago called Afterschool Nightmare. Perhaps this story drew from it for inspiration, or they have a shared myth/folklore for inspiration. If you like the concept of this one, you might want to check Afterschool Nightmare out. It’s mysterious, complex, dark, and delves deeply into the human psyche and emotions that form us into who we are. I can’t say much more without spoilers, but it’s an excellent work of fiction–artistically and plot-wise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s such a shame that the story wasn’t as good as the cover. I don’t think I could read this book with all the grammar issues that you pointed out. I would cringe. Sometimes, I think with shorter books, too much gets packed into them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! And yes, the grammar issues were a big annoying problem, mainly because I saw that it was actually edited! I went to EAL editing’s website, and this author paid some major money to get this proofed! I would be pissed if I was her!


  3. I finished this yesterday and I completely agree with everything you said. There were soooo many sentence fragments and run-ons. It was awful. And you’re absolutely right that despite being so short it felt SO long in some parts. I thought the overall story was good, but the rest was pretty much a mess. I wanted to like this so badly but it ended up being really disappointing 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! I don’t get the five star ratings from some people!
      I’m so glad I’m not alone bc I really really hate rating a book so low.
      What’s really bad is I received another beautiful book called Slumber by Jennifer Weil, and I started reading it the other day…OMG! That book has so much orange highlighting from me just marking all the errors!! I don’t think I can finish it…and I hate DNFing something…and if you see the reviews for that book, I’m even more baffled! At least with this one I could get through it…the other is basically illegible. I might have to give my first one star review ever!! I hate it!! 😫
      So glad you get this. I’m not alone!! 😂🤣😂


      1. I hate giving low ratings too but I just had to with this one 😛 I ended up giving it a star and a half (my review will be up next Monday). I’m usually pretty forgiving with errors for books that aren’t published by big publishers, but this was just too much. There were some sentences that were so long that I read them four or five times and still couldn’t tell what it was trying to say!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh good, I almost rated it one star but felt bad! Thank goodness someone else is going to! I would have prob done 1.5 stars if I had half star ratings (they really need to on Goodreads, like really badly!!) but I only do whole ones. I don’t want to cut my little Rainbow Brites in half!!😂🤣
      Are you going to put it on Amazon? You need to! I did…real ratings need to go up there and warn people.
      If only you could review Slumber for me and tell me if I’m wrong on that one…the cover is so pretty and the ratings are even higher! Ugh.


      1. I almost rated it two stars but then realized I was doing that just because I felt bad giving it anything lower, haha. I probably will put it on Amazon. The overall rating on there is deceptively high… I feel like people are more hesitant to post negative reviews on actual retail sites (as opposed to GR) for some reason.
        Haha chances are you’re not wrong 😉 If that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel! I definitely encourage you to share your thoughts, regardless of what other people have said. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Well, I’m glad you went with your rating, too. It also doesn’t hurt that we agree! If you had loved it, I would’ve felt so bad tearing it apart!!
      Yes, but I also think this might be a case of buying reviews…maybe not her per se, but long ago I found an article about Bella Forrest buying reviews, and there was a list of other authors that had in the past (I’ve never read Brandon Sanderson, but he was on the list…though it only helped him bc apparently his work IS good…but it happens more than we know, and I wonder if that’s the case with Slumber).
      I actually want to send you a copy of it so you can see what I mean!! It’s so hard to see this beautiful book all by myself and then open it up and try to read it and see crap! It’s like the crap has to be shared for me to feel it’s truly real! Ugh.
      If you’re curious, let me know! I have it as a mobi! 😂🤣😂


      1. Oh yeah, I totally forgot that there are authors who buy reviews. I think that’s why Amazon changes their review policy so frequently and now doesn’t even let you say that you got an ARC in exchange for a review because they see that as a paid review. Who wrote Slumber?

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Jennifer Weil…if you see that cover, you’ll understand why I fell for it!
      Yeah, I get their policies…paid ($$$) reviews are one thing, though…we who get ARCs are honest about them. I do hate giving bad reviews to authors that give me books, but I try to request books that sound like my genre and taste. I try to avoid reading too many ARCs outside my comfort zone…I’ll usually save that for library books or books I find at the thrift store. Then I can feel less guilty about the rating.
      However, I think it’s foolish to think that people will be bought by books…I think true blogger reviewers are too ethical to review that way. Like I know you would never pad a review because you felt bad….I won’t either! (I’ll still feel bad though, lol!)
      One day they’ll understand that there’s a diff between receiving a copy of the book to review and receiving money for the reviews and for high ratings. Sigh.


      1. Oh wow, that cover is really pretty! No wonder you’re disappointed!
        Yup, I completely agree. Receiving an ARC is definitely different than being paid to give a review. I think most bloggers are pretty good about giving their honest opinions, even if they got the book directly from the author and even if it makes us feel bad, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

    5. So glad you checked out that cover and know what I’m going through!! Two beautiful covers and both suck!
      Balance needs to be restored to the world, lol.
      I wish Amazon would see the difference. At least we as bloggers are being honest about receiving the book for free in exchange for a review…we could all NOT say that and they’d never know. Stupid policy. So very stupid. 🤔😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, the editing is just… really… not there! Blimey!
    As for the story… I think that mentioning the ‘dreaded’ West Wing only never to be spoken about again would have majorly pissed me off… It’s a major ‘sticky’ point for intrigue and yet- what is there? why is it forbidden? questions galore…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah…IT NEVER SAYS! The one guy says something about “people being different” over there, but that’s it. The synopsis says she breaks a rule, and that’s what makes everything change: nope!
      She goes into the forest…
      Is that on the list? NO!!
      So…frustrating…ugh. Makes me angry thinking about it. 😑

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The cover is really cool. I would have fall for it too. If the book is that short, I would agree that it needs more editing too. I can’t imagine how you could finish reading it. I can’t read any books below 3 stars. I would have DNF a long time ago 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, but I read them for a site, and they’ve always been good to me, so I wanted to at least finish it. And it only took a couple hours. It was get-through-able…but it wasn’t “enjoyable.” It was a mess of errors, feelings, and repetitive sentences. Ugh. But st least it’s done. And the other book I got from them was quite enjoyable.
      Stupid cover trickery! 😩

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It makes me so sad when an idea for a book is wasted by it being confusing or there being major typos! I would be marking up the book every time I saw something to fix. I love the cover, but I wouldn’t buy it unless I’m going to frame it on my wall. So disappointing that a pretty cover doesn’t have a pretty inside!


    1. That’s EXACTLY how I feel! You nailed it. Wow, you are like the wordsmith I never had!
      So now you get it…so if anyone doesn’t, I’m just going to say it just like you did. Because honestly, you put it PERFECTLY.
      THANK YOU.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes I love the cover too and I could see myself requesting this only based on the cover in this instance. So sorry to hear it wasn’t a good story but hey, at least it was short. I appreciate an honest review any time! I haven’t given any 1 or 2 stars since I had my blog but then I read more recommended books and they are safer in a way ;-).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are safer that way! This is luckily only my second two star review. I tend to go with what I know I like, and it usually keeps me out of trouble. Unfortunately, especially with indie books, you just never know. This one looked so good and I had seen it around…
      At least it wasn’t Slumber, which I’ll be writing a DNF review about. That one was even worse…and another cover issue! My friend signed up for an ARC and encouraged me to do the same. But I just can’t get through it…and it’s a shame bc the cover is also so pretty!


  8. Great review for this book Stephanie, it’s a shame you didn’t enjoy it though. I have to agree with you just from the snippets you posted the spelling and grammar errors would have got on my nerves a little as well. A few here and there aren’t too bad, you can miss them sometimes editing a whole book, but it seems like it was most of the book here.
    The cover is absolutely gorgeous, it’s just a shame the story didn’t live up to the promise. Still I’m glad to hear the other review book you’ve started is better! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it’s much much better. Kinda funny about a necromancer’s daughter. I dug it!
      But this one: talk about false advertising!! Hmmph! I was not happy and I’m glad it was free. And it could have at least come with the cover so it could look pretty in my Kindle. But nooo!
      The book was edited! That’s what bugs me so much…that editor should be ashamed of herself! 😒

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds interesting, I’ll be looking forwards to seeing your review for it!
        Yeah I suppose there are positives. I guess you wouldn’t have been happy if you’d had to pay for this one would you?
        Oh, I just assumed maybe it hadn’t and was self-published without being edited you know (it’s obvious I have no idea how anything like this works) but that’s even worse isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. No, I don’t blame you for thinking that…many self-published books don’t get professionally edited. But this one cited the editing company in the credits and I looked the company up: its legit. They should be ashamed of themselves. When the author pays for editing, then I can’t blame them for the issue. I blame EAL editing. Esp since it wasn’t cheap based on the prices listed.
      At least I read it! I would have eventually bought it if I didn’t get it because of that cover…so I’m lucky in a way, lol!! 😂🤣
      But yes, the other one was good. I like ebooksforreview bc the lady that runs it, Kathy, is so sweet. As long as you contact her, she understands if you run late and they give you 45 days to review, which is a TON of time! I always put it in my calendar with a 2 day reminder because of all the other books that have sooner due dates…like some of my Netgalley titles!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess when it comes to self-publishing it can be a bit of a mixed bag can’t it? Still you’d think even without an editor you’d pay close attention to catch any possible mistakes, maybe even get someone else to read it for you. God that’s terrible. If you pay money for a service you expect it to be done well don’t you, clearly that wasn’t the case with this book.
        Yeah I suppose that is a good thing, and you posted the review now so it’s all over and done with. 🙂 It sounds like a great company, and it’s good the owner is so understanding as well. It can be all too easy to let deadlines catch up with you can’t it? 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Very solid review haha. I also was so bummed when this one turned out to be so much better on the outside! It was a let down at best. The worst part was that I felt the story had endless potential. There was so much good dying to come out. But it failed.. nothing was executed to any full extent. It was sort of sloppy and left you constantly hanging. And yes, those dreaded typos. Sigh.. sigh.. sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! And the potential is lost now…someone in the comment stream said it so well: now that this premise has been taken, there’s no hope for salvaging it.
      At least the book cover is pretty. They get a star for that, right??
      Oh, the errors…the humanity!! 😫

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It always sucks when a book that has a lot of potential ends up falling short. I would have been really bothered by all of the errors too. My mind tends to latch onto errors I see and it almost always pulls me out of the story 😂. That cover is definitely a gorgeous one though. I hope your next read is way better. Great review, Stephanie! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was such a disappointment and a bummer. It’s a waste of a gorgeous cover and I just want to take the cover from it and put it on a worthy book. Hell, I’ll even WRITE a book to save this cover the shame of being attached to this book! 😫
      Oh, and I don’t blame those errors on the author: she paid for editing and she didn’t get it. That’s bull and she should get her money back. Hopefully after seeing my review she will.
      The next book I read, Possession, was a lot better! I’ll share tomorrow! It saved my sanity! (But I almost lost it again trying to read Slumber by Jennifer Weil…another book with a lying cover!!)
      I’ll post a review and then I really need to put up the Beat The Backlist and Netgalley challenges that I’m participating in! Gotta make sure I stick to my guns and do them!!
      Thanks for reading and sharing the pain with me!! 😂🤣😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s just terrible about the editing. If I was her I would definitely want my money back. You pay for something and you expect to get your moneys worth and all of that. That’s good to hear about your next read being better though. I’ll have to check out your review. I have quite a bit of blog hopping to catch up on 🙈.
        I so need to do a reading challenge at some point this year. I’ve never done one but I saw a TBR one a while back that fits with my reading goals.
        You’re welcome!! 💕😊

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey, I get behind on hopping all the time, and then I get put in Spam Jail if I do too much in one day, lol.
      I’m really hoping that she reads my review and does demand her money back! Crooks!! One or two errors I can understand as people are human. But this many is just lazy and inept. Maybe I should be charging for editing?! 🤔
      Good on the next one! I’m a little more leery now with independent titles so I’m trying to be more selective so it doesn’t happen again; apparently it turns out,though, I am not the only one fooled by this beautiful cover!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That keeps happening to me too! The other day I only got comments replied to and then three blogs before off into spam jail I went. lol
        Right? I always expect a few errors but not that many.
        Yeah, I think I’ve seen one other review for this one that was a negative one too. Pretty covers can definitely be deceiving sometimes.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I know!! It really is. Even the first couple pages are gorgeous. But I can’t blame the author. Poor thing paid for editing!! Some company called EAL publishing let these errors through after charging this author a ton of money…the book is only 144 pages and too short for the problems I highlighted (and I didn’t list them all because it would have been redundant.
      Such a shame! At least I didn’t pay for it…🤷‍♀️


    1. I am a little scarred…::twitches::
      But I rebounded from my next book (thank goodness). Warning: do NOT read Slumber because it is horrible. It’s a dystopian novel that also has a gorgeous cover, but that one was even worse! 😫

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Christy Luis

        Haha, oh noooo!!! Poor Steph! It sounds like you might be exercising your 1 star ratings this year! At least that means you’re reading adventurously? 😂 So sorry about that! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I might actually have a one star…it will shock me if it happens. I try not to review DNF books, but if I can’t read it, no one else should be tortured by it either. This one I could read (barely) so it didn’t get the one star. But man it was close…I honestly think that cover saved it.
      I am definitely reading adventurously, and I didn’t even mean to!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Inked Epiphanies

    Wow this does sound like a pretty bad book. Even though I hate saying something like that because so many people put an effort into getting the book published, some books ARE bad. In that case, DNF is unavoidable. Golden star for making it through ahahah


    1. Thank you…it helped that it was short (144 pages). I found blame a lot on the editor. But unfortunately it was a cool concept that backfired.
      As my father always said, “You can put chrome on a Falcon and it will still be a Falcon.” It means you can make something pretty on the outside, but it doesn’t mean it’s quality underneath (apparently the Falcon was a really bad car back then, lol).


  12. OMG. I hate badly edited books. I’m such a grammar/punctuation nazi I usually can’t finish them it they’re that bad.

    Don’t even get me started when I find an e-mail or comment I’ve already sent with an error. AAAAAHHHHH!!!! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the grammar police 👮. Practically! It’s so hard not to correct it!
      I had a boyfriend who use to ask if I could, “Borrow [him] some money.” I’d correct him and say “lend” and he wouldn’t understand. He also tossed around double negatives and it drove me NUTS!!
      And he thought I was pretentious…I just hate sloppy grammar and errors, especially if they are in a published book!
      She even had an editor…she should take the editor to small claims Court and get her money back!!


  13. Pingback: Mystery Blogger Award | novellique

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