Thank you Terri for rating my novella 'Excellent' and for leaving such a lovely review! You can read Terri's review below, or on Goodreads, Amazon, or her blog, Moon Shine Art Spot.
When a story starts with “Some hundreds of years ago . . .”
- a cabin was built of rotten wood -
I was hooked from page 1 and couldn't put this book down. I absolutely loved the book cover! That alone would have made me grab the book off the shelf.
This is a Fantasy story with a very dark and unique plot. The author gives such dark, deep and detailed descriptions of the town, the forest, and all of the characters, she brings this world to vivid life [ just not vivid COLOR ;-) because the story is dark ].
There are SO many lessons/discussions that could come from this book: Man vs Nature, Good vs Evil, Mans inhumanity to man, and so many more. This book has a “story-teller quality. This would be an excellent book for school libraries! I would easily and happily recommend this book for Middle School age and older.
...I will definitely be watching for future books :-)
Thank you Irene for reviewing The Lerewood! Irene wrote:
"Most of the people of Lerewood seem to accept their fate, that they can never leave, and that there is no other way of life out there. To venture into the woods would mean certain death, for those who have tried it have never returned. It's easy for the townspeople to believe there is nothing else out there since they are taught this from the time they are children. Legend has it that many years ago two outsiders did make their way into the village and that is what is possibly behind the curse that leaves these people trapped in poverty and despair. One man will find out the truth when he is driven out of his home by his abusive wife. The Lerewood is a dark and magical tale that I found most intriguing."
On Amazon and Goodreads, Irene rated The Lerewood 4/5 stars.
You can read the review on her blog here.
A lovely new review of The Lerewood has been posted by Dr. Wesley Britton, a reviewer from Bookpleasures.com. You can read the review on The Lerewood's Goodreads page, and Dr. Britton's personal blog as well as the Bookpleasures.com website. You can read the review below or at the links embedded. Thank you Dr. Wesley Britton!
Andrea Churchill’s The Lerewood is, in the main, a new fable, a new parable for modern readers. From the get-go, clearly we’re not expected to see the horrible town of Lerewood nor the haunted forest that surrounds it as plausible settings that could exist sometime, somewhere.
In this novelette, Lerewood is an isolated village filled with impoverished, starving people closer to primitive savagery than anything resembling civilized humanity. Strangely, these filthy and always angry townspeople never seem to die from disease or starvation. They don’t think there is any sort of outside world, have no idea where their town came from, and most importantly, they don’t know whether or not a glowing green-eyed creature in the woods named Ilere is real or a myth. In either case, the people live in fear of Ilere, terrified of her killing anyone who dares to go into the woods.
We meet one depressed middle-aged man named Uallas who is so tired of abuse from his more than shrewish wife that he decides to commit suicide by entering the woods. From that point forward, Uallas learns everything he was raised to believe was lies and that evil doesn’t live in the forest but instead lives in the people of Lerewood. He meets and befriends the strange, cloaked creature called Ilere before he must make choices about his future. Ilere too finds she must make hard choices as her mission isn’t the murderous crusade the unkind townspeople think.
Obviously, perhaps, this is a story full of symbolism as it explores themes like just what is the nature of evil, how can the natural world co-exist with a destructive mankind, how can we sort out physical and spiritual identity, and determine the meaning of sacrifice when balancing the fate of a world against the life of one man.
What gives this story an extra measure of readability is Churchill’s gift for moody, gloomy, and often spooky descriptive language that personifies a strange forest, its trees, its creatures, its ground and leaves. Here’s a very brief sample:
The trees seemed to get taller as he walked further along. The trees that surrounded him were covered in vines to the point where the bark could not be seen. He felt the different vines that hung before him; one tree had sticky vines, another had rotting vines, and another's vines were ashy. Nothing was barren, yet nothing was fresh and new. All the vegetation of Lerewood had some kind of murkiness to it, as if it was all infused with haunted souls or, more likely, exposed to the presence of an unnatural and evil being.
You could classify The Lerewood as YA as its readability would suit any age-range. But it’s the sort of fable that should appeal to a wider audience, especially readers who like their fantasies with a dark edge. And readers who don’t normally read fantasies should easily follow a story that reads like a yarn we all might have read long ago. But we didn’t.
Warning: this blog post contains possible spoilers, as usual.
For my blog this month, I’d like to explore in depth the main character of my novella The Lerewood: Ilere. Last time, I discussed my protagonist Uallas and his views of the other characters of my book, including Ilere. Click here to read that.
Ilere is not quite the protagonist of the novel, nor is she the antagonist. The townspeople of Lerewood view her as their enemy, and they’re quite right in thinking so. And in the beginning of The Lerewood, the reader is led to believe this too. But The Lerewood is all about perception. The legend of Ilere tests the reader’s judgment by giving them only one side of the story, and then questioning their beliefs without the other side…Ilere’s side.
The townspeople view Ilere as not just a hideous creature, but a jailer. An obstacle. She keeps anyone from leaving town to find a better life. She makes sure the people of Lerewood remain trapped in their miserable lives of endless suffering. But why?
That question is revealed when a middle aged man from the town of Lerewood enters the haunted forest and finds Ilere. And she reveals that there is a reason why she must keep the townspeople contained. A reason that paints Ilere in a very different light to the stories…and the lies…that Uallas grew up with.
"The trees tell me stories of how the 'outsiders' you know so well in your legends were anything but. They have lived in these woods for centuries before your town formed. And there was an entire population of my people, my ascendants that harnessed the same powers that bind me to the forest. Then one day, the trees tell me, your people appeared out of nowhere in one of the clearings. They chopped down hundreds of our trees and started to form shelters and a civilization. Where they came from, the trees do not even understand. Even the wisest of trees say they witnessed your people rise from the ground, as if they were born right out of the dirt.
"My people found no harm in letting your people live in the forest, forming their little town. But after many years my ancestors began to see your people for who they really are. They would storm into the forest, hunting and killing all of us, and spoke of feeding their starving families the flesh of my people, for they could find no other source of meat. We were peaceful toward them at the very beginning, offered them the hospitality of our forest, but instead they chose to slaughter us without asking if we could help or provide them with food. It was soon apparent that your town was the essence of darkness."
"So ever since my town formed, your people have been hunted? Even before you were born?" Uallas was wide-eyed. At first, he didn't know who to believe. Ilere was telling him a completely different story from what he had lived by his entire life. At first he didn't truly understand what she meant by his town being the essence of darkness, but seeing the vacant expression on his face, Ilere continued.
“When my people started to defend themselves, and your people had fallen in our territory, their souls were absorbed by the forest. That is what the Lerewood does . . . its power is based on the souls that surround it. It was once a beautiful, bountiful wood because we were a good people that cherished nature, took care of it, and it absorbed our kindness. But once the trees began to take in the deaths of your people, they started to quickly decay, and as the blood of your people seeped into the ground it became consistently dry and no water would quench its thirst. Your people are cursed souls, Uallas. You are filled with a natural evil.”
~Excerpt from Chapter 6
Ilere has one purpose in life: to contain the evils of Lerewood, and to keep it from spreading and infecting the rest of the world. She was born into this purpose because of the slaughter of her family, and the rest of her people. Her personality is very reserved, very serious, as she grew up alone, with only the dark forest to accompany her. I had to create a being that would install fear in the small children of Lerewood as well as most of the adults. The legends of Ilere that the townspeople tell one another are mostly true…but most monsters are born for a reason. I hope that The Lerewood teaches my readers that some evils are not as evil as they seem…and sometimes they are necessary evils. I have always been fascinated with the motives of people considered ‘evil’ by others, and the untold story of that villain, usually a pain that is always overlooked and untreated. I deal with this same theme in my current work in progress, a story about a notorious Scottish crime lord and his attempts at battling his inner demons and struggling to become a better man. To read more about Ilere and her character, check out The Lerewood, available in ebook and paperback at the Kellan Publishing store. To stay updated with my current work in progress, follow me on social media. Links down below!
~ Andrea Churchill
Get your copy of The Lerewood
Follow me on my Kellan Publishing author page, my website at andreachurchillbooks.com, Facebook , Instagram or Twitter!
Welcome to Andrea's blog!
Here you can find news on The Lerewood and what I'm up to.