ARC Review of Enchanted Forests – A Magical Collection of Short Stories

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review (Spoiler Free). July 1st will be launched, go and grab your copy now!

Enchanted Forests – A Magical Collection of Short Stories

by Astrid V.J.Alice IvinyaJennifer KropfSky SommersLyndsey HallBen LangN.D.T. CasaleElena Shelest, Xander CrossDonna White.

  • Expected publication: July 1st 2022
  • Editorial: ‎ New Wings Press
  • Format: e-book, hardcover and paperback
  • Genre: Fantasy, mythology, folk tales, science fiction, folklore
  • Language: English

Synopsis:

If you go down to the woods today…
You’d better not go alone…

Discover the secret world between the trees where fairies, unicorns and even monsters dwell. Take a stroll through enchanted woods and dance with pixies and dryads by the light of the stars. Escape Baba Yaga and fall in love with a prince in disguise. Taste the fruit at the goblin market and be whisked away on a magical adventure.
Among ancient trees, find beauty, danger and adventure in these enchanting short stories by award-winning, best-selling, and up-and-coming fantasy authors.

Enchanted Forests is fully illustrated by the talented Elena Shelest.

All profits from this anthology will be donated to Rainforest Foundation who support indigenous and traditional peoples of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights.

Stories include:

  • Gems of Fae and Foolery – Alice Ivinya
  • The Lucky Tortoise – Ben Lang
  • Feather Green – Jennifer Kropf
  • Apple and the Dead Forest – Xander Cross
  • To Snare a Prince – Sky Sommers
  • Blood of the Unicorn – N.D.T. Casale
  • Dimension of the Sasquatch – Donna White
  • The Fern Flower – Elena Shelest
  • Willow Daughter – Astrid V.J.
  • One Fair Eve – Lyndsey Hall
  • ??? – A bonus story by Astrid V.J.

The second one in the series of Enchanted Anthologies.

This was a book I enjoyed reading every night at bedtime. There are some books that I devour in 2-3 days, and books that I take my sweet time to enjoy, like a chocolate truffle, I want it to last longer. This anthology was one of the latter.

Unicorns, fairies, dwarves, elves, dragons, yetis… did I mention unicorns? There´s a little for everyone: kingdoms at war, good witches, magic trees and dimension travelers. Every story has its little charm, and a lesson to learn.

The illustrations are beautiful. This is a plus that isn´t common to see inside an e-book nowadays.

  • Gems of Fae and Foolery: Oh, the humans, dwarves and faes quarrels! Runaway girls and a talking frog hiding from danger.
  • The Lucky Tortoise: a beautiful and melancholy story in equal parts, full of mythology and an exceptional friendship.
  • Feather Green: Some mistakes bring terrible consequences; how can the world keep on spinning when you have lost everything? Fate might have a bigger plan…
  • Apple and the Dead Forest: This dystopic tale was so beautifully written albeit gloomy that I could feel I was there. Ancient myths that come back to life, the power of friendship and a feeling of hope made this story one of my favorites.
  • To Snare a Prince: This one made me giggle so much I almost woke up the husband while I read it. A multitasking witch! I enjoyed this fairy tale retelling so much.
  • Blood of the Unicorn: I might admit a willful princess who must grow up quickly and take painful decisions is always a good read, even if I´d have grounded her for a couple of months after the chaos she made.
  • Dimension of the Sasquatch: Steampunk dimension travelers, what else could I ask? Oh, of course, some directions for newbie adventurers would be great. Not everything is what it seems at first sight.
  • The Fern Flower: One of my favorites. There were bits of cultural winks that made me want to know about the festivities and clothing depicted inside this one. “It isn´t so bad to be a little different if you find someone who understands.” That quote really got me.
  • Willow Daughter: Elementals living in old forests, ancient creatures with great destructive power and treasures come to life in fairy tale retellings.
  • One Fair Eve: This one made me think a bit about Rumpelstiltskin and the payment the little man asks for his help. Will there be any loophole here?
  • The Green Chapel (Part 1) – A bonus story by Astrid V.J.: Ancient magic that requires a sacrifice. Can´t say anymore.

What I didn´t like so much: The Deus ex machina moments. Yep, there was some story when I felt that help came too easily for the main character. Of course, in an enchanted forest everything can happen, only, I´d prefer if the heroes take their time to find a solution to their predicaments, instead of expecting magic creatures showing up to save the day.

My general opinion:

I expected some short stories, almost a chapter-like tale, it was a delightful surprise to see that they were bigger, and I could delve deeper inside those little worlds.

There´s always hope on the journey many characters are taking either to save a relative or their own life, and there´s a helping hand if they know where to look for.

Strong characters: I loved that there was no damsel in distress that needed to be saved everywhere. A common trope in fantasy that I love that is disappearing. Not everything rotated around romance, and those stories who had their share were beautifully written. There were loads of exciting happenings there that kept me awake past my bedtime hour.

I´m amazed by the quality of those short stories, reading that many of them are part of the sagas that the authors have written makes me want to read more of their books. I hope one day to purchase all their stories, meanwhile, I´ll added to my ever-growing TBR list. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers.

How I got this little book: Astrid V.J. asked on Instagram for ARC readers, I was happily surprised to be accepted, as this is my first ARC review. We had around a month to read it and prepare a review prior to the publication date.


About the authors:

Astrid V.J.

Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling Author, Astrid V.J. was born in South Africa. She is a trained social anthropologist and certified transformational life coach. She currently resides in Sweden with her husband and their two children. In early childhood, she showed an interest in reading and languages—interests which her family encouraged. Astrid started writing her first novel at age 12 and now writes fantasy in a variety of genres, exploring her passion for cultures and languages. When she isn’t writing, Astrid likes to read, take walks in nature, play silly games with her children, do embroidery, and play music.

Astrid writes transformation fiction: incorporating transformation principles in novels, rather than writing another self-help book. She loves exploring the human capacity for transformation and potential to achieve success in the face of adversity. Astrid is interested in minority group questions, considerations on social standards of beauty and the negative consequences these have, and would like to make the fantasy genre accessible to people of non-white, non-Christian backgrounds. Astrid feels the fantasy genre has become too restrictive with limited representations of race, ethnicity and culture. She seeks to explore other paths on this writing journey, incorporating her background in anthropology and psychology to create engaging experiences, which also provide food for thought on the diverse topics she finds most important. These include: racism, minority rights, cultural diversity, culture change, intolerance, humanity’s environmental impact, the representation of people on the autism spectrum in among the general populace, the human capacity for transformation, and much more.

Find out more about Astrid, her books, her current writing projects and where to connect with her here.

Alice Ivinya

Alice is a USA Today bestselling author. She is also an award winning international and Barnes and Noble bestseller.
She lives in Bristol, England. She is wife to Sam, mummy to their toddler and owns the best dog in the world, Summer. She has loved fantasy all her life and is currently writing three fairytale retellings. When she’s not off galavanting in other worlds, she loves walking the dog and spending time with her church family. Find out more about Alice here.

Jennifer Kropf

Jennifer Kropf is the author of The Winter Souls Series and was a finalist for the Indie Fantasy Book of the Year award with Caffeinated Fantasy in 2020. She lives amidst lush Canadian farmland with her husband and three kids, and writes Christmas themed fantasy stories meant to inspire family traditions in households at Christmas time. She is the founder of Winter Publishing House, and always loved The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis growing up. Learn more about Jennifer here.

Sky Sommers

For most of her life, Sky has lived and worked in Tallinn, Estonia, with brief escapes all over the world in search of her muse. Penguins and polar bears, beware, I will get there. Eventually. Sky’s debut e-book was about ancient goddesses running amok, trying to get their wilted powers back. She then proceeded to publishing her own books and found her way from Greek and Arthurian myths and legends to fairytales retold for young adult and adult audiences. So far, Thumbelina has been updated for suspicious adults, more sinister versions of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and The Wizard of Oz were released in 2020-2021 (Cinders-Penguins and polar bears, beware, I will get there. Eventually. Sky’s debut e-book was about ancient goddesses running amok, trying to get their wilted powers back. She then proceeded to publishing her own books and found her way from Greek and Arthurian myths and legends to fairytales retold for young adult and adult audiences. So far, Thumbelina has been updated for suspicious adults, more sinister versions of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and The Wizard of Oz were released in 2020-2021 (Cinders-Embers-Ash aka the Magic Mirrors Saga) and a dystopian book made a blip in October 2021. All her books are peppered with dry humour, linked by some character or another and usually she loves making you choose at the end—depending on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Sky lives in a house with a small garden with her husband and mostly one, but on occasion plus four kids. No dog. In October 2022, Sky will be veering into romance—her book Charm & Mayhem: The Goddess of Fate will be 1 of 40 novel-length romance books with dark book boyfriends in the Realm of Darkness anthology, which can be pre-ordered here. You can best find & interact with Sky on Instagram.

Lyndsey Hall

Lyndsey Hall lives on the edge of Sherwood Forest, one of the most magical places in England’s history, and the inspiration for her debut novel, THE FAIR QUEEN. She grew up surrounded by books, and loved to write from a young age.

She loves to travel and try her hand at new things, but is most at home when curled up in a chair with a cup of tea and a good book, usually accompanied by at least one dog. She’s fortunate enough to share her home with two cherished humans and two beloved dogs.

Find Lyndsey online here.

Find out more about The Fair Queen.

Ben Lang

Ben Lang is a fantasy and myth obsessive who loves monsters, adventures and exotic lands. His stories aim to include an awesome setting, a great monster and an emotive plot. He lives in Nottingham, UK at the sufferance of Megan who tolerates his over-consumption of tea and eternal state of foggy optimism. Thanks for reading, good luck outwitting any monsters that find you.

N.D.T. Casale

N.D.T. Casale is an Italian-American author who lives in the United States. She creates magical realms for others to escape to and enjoy.
When she is not hard at work writing, N.D.T. Casale spends her time riding horses, working out, traveling, snowboarding, and looking for her next adventure. She is fluent in multiple languages and always ends her day with a cup of tea.

Elena Shelest

Elena Shelest immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine at the age of 15. She currently resides in the Pacific-west with her husband, two busy kids, and three pets. Elena is a full-time nurse, an artist, and an avid reader of fantasy and inspirational books. She is hoping to encourage her readers to be able to look beyond what’s possible and believe again that everyday miracles do happen. Her contemporary fantasies about dreams coming true, The Seven Lives of Grace and Sweets Make Everything Better can be found on Amazon along with other books. To receive updates, words of encouragement, fun historical facts, and book discounts from Elena once a month, sign up for her newsletter.

Xander Cross

Xander Cross lives a quiet life with his spouse in Maryland. He holds a bachelor’s in History, which he uses to write paranormal fiction. A lifelong enthusiast of Japanese culture and folklore, Xander cosplays as a kitsune yōkai on occasion. In addition to the supernatural cyberpunk series, “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica,” he has also published a paranormal romance novella trilogy entitled “Come by Night” on Wattpad. For additional information or to contact the author, please visit here.

Donna White

Donna White is the author of The Whitmere Legacy series. She was born and raised in the South and moved to Southern California as a young adult. She splits her time between her husband, children, large dogs, and her passion for nature photography. She writes epic paranormal stories of gracious women with enhanced martial arts skills in exotic locations. Charm and humor are her trademarks while keeping the scare factor at bay. You can catch Donna on Instagram. Read the first few chapters of her books for free, or purchase them, on her Amazon page.

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