The Forest of Ghosts and Bones

The Forest of Ghosts and Bones

By Author / Illustrator

Lisa Lueddecke



Age range(s)







Paperback / softback




This gorgeously evocative standalone fantasy from Lisa Lueddecke is inspired by the Hungarian myths of her childhood. Enter a world with a haunted castle, a dark and dangerous forest and poisoned rain, with two fiery protagonists to root for - a book perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Laini Taylor. You are the girl who can walk in the rain, and I am the boy who knows the way. The Eve of Saints approaches and the poison rain which shrouds Castle Marcosza strains at its boundaries. When Beata's brother is taken by the rain, Beata and her friend Benedek must make a perilous journey of discovery to uncover the root of her secret - why she is the only person who can walk through the rain unscathed. But Beata is soon caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse with mysterious Liljana, a girl with hidden powers of her own. And with magic outlawed in Marcosza, can the pair find a way to work together to harness their forbidden ability and unleash its full potential? Or will they find themselves seduced by power and all that it offers...



Even the title of this lyrically-written standalone fantasy is irresistible and the story it introduces absolutely does not disappoint. Incorporating all the important elements of the very best fantasy - a haunted castle, dangerous forests and the darkest of outlawed magic - Lueddecke creates an exciting and very cleverly told pageturner, which evokes the Hungarian myths of her childhood.

As The Eve of Saints approaches, Beata's brother is taken by the poison rains and she sets out on a dangerous journey with her friend and ally, Benedek, to discover why only she can walk through the deadly rains unharmed.

Readers will need their wits about them to keep pace with the alternating narratives of the two main characters, Beata and Liljana, as their journeys gradually bring them together in a thrilling and brilliantly-crafted set-piece conclusion. Along the way there are seers, spells, secrets to discover and long-standing scores to settle, not to mention mages and minor though well-drawn characters who meet quite startlingly gruesome ends!

What sets this fantasy apart is the strength of the relationships. Beata is 'the girl who can walk in the rain', and Benedek 'the boy who knows the way'. Their partnership is every bit as crucial as the relationship between Liljana and Beata. Both are fiery personalities with their own hidden powers who must learn that real power lies in working together for a common purpose.

KS3 fantasy lovers will find more of the same intricate world-building, mythical quality and huge imagination in Lueddecke's fantasy series which began with A Shiver of Snow and Sky and continued in A Storm of Ice and Stars. Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Frances Hardinge write similar atmospheric fantasy with a fairytale feel for this age group. Older readers might move on to Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas.

400 pages / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


This fantasy story, which has been inspired by Hungarian myths and legends, does not disappoint. From the enticing front cover the reader is drawn in and then plunged into a world where magic is discouraged, mags are put to death; and a haunted castle is forever surrounded with poisonous rain...

Beata lives in the small village where the castle and the deadly rains dominate and control the lives of all that live there. She feels drawn to the castle, feels it call out to her but she doesn't understand why. On impulse one afternoon she follows the calling and crosses the bridge onto the castle grounds... she survives the rain... why?

She must now keep this secret to herself but on her way home, she realises that a young boy was watching her; how much did he see? Years later a young man she has never met before takes refreshments in her parents' tavern, she is drawn to him as he is to her. Who is he? Will he be able to help her solve the many unanswered questions she has in her head?

Liljana lives in Rosesti, she is a mage. People that live in her city dislike magic and anyone having it is sent to their death. Liljana only ever uses hers to feed and protect herself and her friend, Miha. After a tragic turn of events in which Miha is killed, she leaves the city, takes advice from a seer and follows the magical thread towards the castle, the rains and Beata. On this journey she encounters many things, some that are weird and mythical.

These three characters are brought together to embark on a dangerous journey not only to fight what evil lies in the castle but to discover what has been long ago locked inside their heads.

The author has put together a wonderful fantasy story that is full of twists and turns that will easily keep any 12+ reader engaged in its 386 well written pages. The story would also be great for intervention groups and book clubs as there are many opportunities for discussion and further reading. An easily recommended read.

400 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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