Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Forest King's Daughter by Kendra Olsen

Kindle Edition, 201 pages
Published March 5th 2015 by Pilrig Press
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


"The year is 1886 and Swedish teenager Ingrid Andersdotter is about to face a series of life-changing events – the rural poverty of her family which her carelessness suddenly makes worse, her attraction to the new school teacher which leads to ostracism and shame, the pressure of the church to conform to things she doesn’t believe, and her strong opinions which put her at odds with her traditional community.

Ingrid’s only option is to leave her home and family, first to Stockholm as a lonely servant in a rich household, where she soon discovers her vulnerability. Just when she fears she’ll be thrown onto the street, a turn of events gives her the chance of a new life – in America. But is she brave enough to make an ocean crossing to a strange land on her own, leaving everything she knows far behind? And will she find the freedom she dreams of if she takes such a risk?

Told through the lens of a Swedish fairy tale, this epic coming-of-age story, is both a page-turning personal account of one feisty young woman’s determination to seek a better life, and the tale of many single women who emigrated from Sweden to America in the 19th century."

My Review:

Ingrid is an interesting character, by turns naive, strong-willed and hopeful. She comes from a life of poverty in rural Sweden where her family scratch a living from the land. Her horizons are gradually expanded as she meets different people and she begins to question the values which have been drilled into her from birth. As she grows up she is forced to move away from the family she loves and to start out on her own. This is a moving tale of courage and hope and Ingrid is a likeable character who sticks to her principles.

I enjoyed learning more about Swedish culture in the late nineteenth century and the book felt well-researched and realistic. I particularly liked the descriptions of the Swedish countryside and of Ingrid's travels.

My criticisms for this book would be that it was slow to start off and I felt that the writer's style developed and became stronger as the novel progressed. It also felt like the author was trying out different writing techniques during the novel, by using diary entries and letters as well as narrative. I think the letters worked better in progressing the story than the diary entries. I thought the prologue and epilogue told from Ingrid's point of view in the future were a bit unnecessary. It didn't particularly feel like a fairy tale to me, which is how it is advertised, and the tale of the 'Forest King's Daughter' within the story was a little pointless.

It seems like I have given this book a lot of criticism but I did really enjoy it and I will look forward to reading more by the author in the future.

I would give this book 3 out of 5.

The book is available here.

About the Author:

Kendra Olson lives in London, England with her husband and two cats. The Forest King's Daughter is her first novel.

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