Forest Underground has been on my shelf for much too long—I finally remedied this situation by making it the first read from my “official” February TBR list. Knowing that it’s Women in Horror Month makes it even more significant. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t read many books by women authors, at least when it comes to the horror genre. I’ll be keeping that in mind throughout the year (not just this month) as I work on diversifying my reads a bit more.
Lydian Faust is an author I’ve been following on social media for awhile now. I enjoy her sense of humor and her posts in general, as I think we are close in age and share some common interests. Basically, I already thought she was cool, and now I’ve confirmed that fact because I absolutely loved this novella.
In just 100 pages, the author has crafted a story that’s tough to put down. It didn’t take long for me to feel a connection to the characters, despite the short length of the story. The mood and the setting that the author created are stellar. For me, this one has dark fairy tale vibes, and the setting was almost like its own character, lending a gothic, haunting atmosphere to the story. I love abandoned buildings and places, as well as stories featuring asylum horror or mental illness as a theme. This tale has supernatural elements lurking throughout, but it’s also heavy on human-based horrors—mental illness, neglect/abuse, and trauma, to name a few. I enjoyed how we got to know the main characters in present day, but also were given a glimpse of their past and how it shaped them. I want to avoid spoilers, but will say that there are some scenes in the book set during a character’s younger years at school, and Lydian does a fantastic job in writing those scenes. I felt so much understanding and empathy for one of the main characters as I was reading. Another aspect I enjoyed was simply how the story is split into three sections, each focused on one main character, yet they are all present from beginning to end. Not only do we see how their stories intertwine as the story progresses, but in each section, we’re given a deeper glimpse into that specific character’s past.
I recently picked up a copy of this author’s new poetry collection, and judging by the writing in this novella, I’m even more excited to read it. Just from this one piece, I have a sense that Lydian Faust is an author who “bleeds onto the page” when she’s writing, and that’s something I love. Her writing has a dark, magical quality, imbued with feeling. This is another one to file under “Books I Want to Hug”.