REVIEW: The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed

Veris Thorn has seen death. She had survived the war and the tyranny that never ended. As a woman nearing forty, she knows suffering. It is why she cherishes her remaining family and keeps a low profile. However, the tyrant king has called upon her. As the sole person to have entered the forest of Elmever and survived, Veris is tasked with rescuing the tyrant’s lost children. But these woods hide more than monsters. The woods itself possess a power to expose fear and spawn nightmares. To save her family, Veris will enter these woods and face hell once more. Premee Mohamed unleashes a startling and tragic tale in The Butcher of the Forest.

The Butcher of the ForestVeris Thorn in The Butcher of the Forest is an excellent portrayal of a traumatized character. The story of her past is slowly and almost sparsely revealed throughout the novella. Each fragment of her life is like finding a clue and unlocking a mystery. She is a character a reader wants to know more about.

The strong characterization in Veris Thorn intensifies the horror elements in The Butcher of the Forest. Since the reader is provided snippets of Veris’s first time in Elmever, we get to know both the younger and present-day Veris. Back then, she was stronger and braver. Present-day Veris has lived through more trauma and developed different fears. The woods is unsettling in both timelines.

“I am no adventurer, no warrior, no soldier. The tyrant should have sent some giant in his employ.

Ah, but the giant would never have returned.”

Premee Mohamed lightly scatters backflashes of when the Tyrant King first invaded Veris’s home. How the tyrant stole power deserves its own full story. The Tyrant’s rule portrayed in The Butcher of the Forest is its own nightmare.

The worldbuilding in The Butcher of the Forest is vivid. In many ways, Veris is a prisoner to her own culture. She is an example of what guilt feels like for not complying to social expectations. The magic system is clever and adaptive. The book could have been longer.

The Butcher of the Forest is largely psychological horror with atmospheric elements. It is a swift and dark narrative of Veris Thorn’s life. She offers a unique perspective of a traumatized character. The woods has a dominating presence. The Butcher of the Forest never quite crosses the absolutely terrifying threshold but is a captivating story all the same.

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Carrie Chi Lough

Carrie Chi Lough

Carrie resides in Colorado with her other half and their puppy, Irwin. She is always searching for dark SFF and horror stories to bury herself in.