Through the Silent Forest (The Bright One Series, Book One),
by Ashley. L. Castillo
Hey guys, how is your week going? Have you stumbled across any new favourite reads recently?
Today, I’m excited to say that I have. In this post, I’ll be reviewing Through the Silent Forest (The Bright One Series, Book One), by Ashley. L. Castillo.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s dive in.
The story is set in a fantasy world, beginning in Diana’s birthplace of Terrene. It is told from multiple points of view, switching between Diana, her shadow Tase, and important characters from Diana’s birthplace.
Eighteen year old Diana is set to become the new chief of Terrene and as such, she is now permitted to accept suitors for marriage proposals. However, Diana wants more. She longs for a life of adventure, the likes of which she’s only ever experienced in books.
Before long, a hooded figure comes to Diana in her dreams, declaring that the ancient monster in the mountain is hunting for her. Shortly after, Diana is revealed to be the only one who can save her people from such an ancient threat. She has been chosen by the Gods and must leave her beloved home, to train with the help of her shadow Atanas, otherwise known as Tase. Once Diana is fully trained, she will be expected to do battle with the monster under the mountain, in order to save her people from its demise.
Eighteen year old Diana is the new Chief of Terrene. We learn that she is a curious and intelligent young woman, who is prone to being stubborn and wilful. She has a great fondness for books and proves herself to be highly intuitive, sensing things on a deeper level than others. In addition, she showed herself to be resilient and courageous when it came to protecting her people from potential harm. She is more than willing to sacrifice her freedom, putting the wellbeing of her people ahead of her happiness on multiple occasions. However, over the course of the story, Diana also learns to embrace happiness wherever it can be found, even in the smallest of moments.
Atanas, Diana’s shadow (more casually referred to as Tase) is initially portrayed as mysterious and elusive. We see him only briefly at first, in Diana’s dreams. As such, I wasn’t sure if he was real or merely a figment of Diana’s imagination. He is the only one of his kind, a creature who can take on many forms depending on his own needs and his environment. He was generally blunt in his way of communication and kept his true form a secret from Diana for most of the story. Who and what he is seems too terrible for him to show her, a burden he carried with great distress at times. Over time, he proved himself to be deeply caring and protective, never allowing Diana to come to harm. Although at times he would fight with Diana, you could tell that he cared for her even early on in their travels together. Furthermore, his cheeky sense of humour and mysterious nature made me fall in love with his character. I honestly couldn’t get enough of him.
Ryu, protector of the land of the beasts seemed warm and friendly at first, in an almost fatherly way. He particularly acted as a father figure to Tase, who had grown up without parents. However, like any father, Ryu was also strict and authoritative at times, with his disappointment being the worst kind of punishment. Over the course of the story, Ryu always did what he thought was best for those within his realm. At times, his commands seemed unfair or even cruel, however, they soon made sense in the long run. Additionally, his own backstory was tragic and helped me to understand him on a deeper level.
The Monster under the mountain, otherwise known as Damien is only mentioned now and again in the story. He is the beast which stalks after Diana, threatening her homeland, Terrene. He often claims that he is not her enemy and has a silken voice and red eyes, which lend him a devil-like presence. He has the ability to possess other creatures in the land of the beasts, forcing them to do his bidding and taking away their own sense of free will. Prior to this, I felt that he wasn’t all bad as people made him out to be, but I think that was the point of him; he is deceptive and highly persuasive, to try to get Diana to let her guard down. Overall, he didn’t seem very trustworthy and the few encounters we experience alongside Diana gave me the impression that he meant only harm to the inhabitants of the world.
There were many positives to this novel, many of which I have mentioned below.
- I liked the close attention to detail, emphasizing the main senses as this pulled me deeper into the story.
- The third person narration works well here as there are a lot of elements to consider: different realms and races, different points of view, etc, which all need to be shown, to provide further context to the story. We are given not only a close-up view of Diana’s inner world, but also a more broad view of the various lands and their other inhabitants.
- The growing relationship between Zil and Tase is humorous as they both stress each other out at points, leading to many misunderstandings.
- The author’s beautiful style of prose makes the tale even more enchanting.
- The worldbuilding was done well. Tales of the Gods (especially the story of the Children of Terrene) provided additional context to the world’s rich history. This information was artfully dispersed throughout the story in various ways; through a children’s play at the start, information from ancient books, relatives, or allies, etc. All of this adds to the story world’s complex sense of history.
- The characters proved to be emotionally complex, each with their own conflicting thoughts and feelings. For instance, the budding relationship between Diana and Tase was forbidden but inevitable. It pained both of them considerably to deny their growing feelings for one another, which only added to the interpersonal tension of the story.
- There were some beautifully written love scenes included, which would make this book an 18+ read in my eyes. These scenes were delicate and loving, yet were also fuelled by the primal human need to become one with another through intimacy.
- The story had a sweet ending, which brought things to a satisfactory, temporary close prior to the next book in the series.
While reading, I was fortunate enough to come across five inspirational quotes, which I’m happy to share with you below.
1) ‘We’re all different, but at the same time, we’re all the same.’
2) ‘What’s good for the masses might not be good for the few.’
3) ‘It’s easy to lose one’s way inside one’s mind when thoughts are clouded and plagued by emotions. Don’t think about the past and don’t linger on pain.’
4) ‘No-one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes.’
5) ‘We all have our reasons for loving people. Sometimes we love people who don’t deserve it.’
Overall, I found Through the Silent Forest to be a richly detailed and imaginative story, with a highly developed fantasy world. Every moment spoke deeply of Diana’s duty to her people and the sacrifices she had to make on their behalves. The characters were fleshed out well, with their own intricate backstories and personal fears and desires. Themes included duty, magic, teamwork, and family.
My rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of fantasy stories centring around mythical beasts and creatures.
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Have a wonderful week,