Today is my stop on the blog tour for Forget Me Not by Anca Antoci, organised by the Write Reads Book Tours. Thank you to Anca Antoci’s, Dave and the gang at Write Reads for having me along on this tour and for sending me a digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!
Title: Forget Me Not
Series: Chimera, book 1/3
Age/Genre: YA contemporary fantasy
Length: 291 pages
Formats: Mobi and Epub
Deceiving the vampire that saved her could get her killed, but it’s a risk she’s willing to take.
When tragedy strikes, Rae makes a terrible choice and struggles with the aftermath. In the wilderness of the Tongass rainforest, she finds herself hunted by creatures of hell, monsters she never dreamed could be real.
A hidden world, an ancient race, and a secret she discovers by accident give a new meaning to her life but only if she can escape and return to civilization. If she is to survive, Rae must comply with Ari, her reluctant hero, and allow him to wipe away any memory of this realm. Knowledge is power, but is it worth dying for?
When push comes to shove, that’s when real strength emerges.
What would it take to discover what you’re made of?
Forget Me Not is a YA debut fantasy novel set in the modern day. Its main character is Rae Davis a young woman who is all alone in the world. She lost her parents when she and her sister, Maria, were young. Then she and Maria became estranged and she was unaware her sister was very ill with cancer until Maria passed away. Rae finds herself upset and alone at her sister’s funeral so she decides to head to Alaska to seek out her aunt Gwen, of whom she has fond childhood memories. When she reaches Gwen’s home town she discovers that her aunt has been missing for some years.
At this point Rae enters a surreal and supernatural world. She takes pills and drinks alcohol to help with her loneliness and then heads into the woods, barefoot, for a walk in the middle of the night. She discovers that many of the deadly creatures from the fantasy books she reads are actually real, much to her surprise. Not only real, but all really attractive, which is very distracting for her addled mind. In this way there are certain parallels with the Twilight saga, as has been suggested previously. Add to the mix of young woman, vampires and werewolves the threat of witches who can tell if you expose any of the secrets of the Chimera Council and will set the hellhounds on you as a result, and you have the basic premise for Forget Me Not:
Our kind is governed by the Chimera Council. They enforce the law and set the rules of the Code of Honor to protect us. The first and most important rule that we have is to maintain secrecy from humans.
Rae seems to be a fairly gullible character – she keeps finding herself naked in the presence of hot supernatural beings, all be it due to her having a bath in a cave pool, or having multiple wounds looked after, having nearly died during a hailstorm. She is having nightmares involving her dead sister, which could be visions of the future – or are they simply nightmares?
As the story progresses Rae becomes aware of more and more previously hidden beings but does not seem more than a little surprised by these incredible revelations. At the beginning she was suicidal and then decides she no longer feels that way, due to there being so much more to the world, that she was previously unaware of. In this way her character progresses and becomes less gullible and more worldly wise during the story:
Blake was impressed by this new Rae, he liked how she took charge. Where was the shy, naive girl he felt so protective of?
I enjoyed Rae’s interactions with both the vampires and then the werewolves, although those two encounters were fairly similar in their nature – each time Rae is saved by a hot guy who nurses her back to health. In each case, during her recovery we are told a lot of facts about vampires and werewolves and their histories, rather than shown these things. One of the wolves does change into a human in front of Rae, but there was not much in the way of description of this event. I felt like more could have been made of that particular scene. There also seemed to be a lack of emotion from the heroine. We were often told that she realised she was crying or that she screamed but the actual emotion was not conveyed very well.
The forest in which most of the action takes place was brought to life by the author’s descriptions of its sights and sounds:
The smell of the forest, the sound of a river next to the cliff. That’s right, the river is a perfect landmark. Maybe if she listened hard enough, Rae could hear the river and follow it’s sound. Rae focused on all other senses rather than sight. Hmm, the sounds of the forest, a gust of wind on her face, the smell of wet dog…
The last quarter of the book moved along at a much faster pace and Rae’s return to the town and her mysterious meeting with Chloe was enjoyable and intriguing. The story of the next book in the series was cleverly introduced and it sounds like it’s going in a fantastic direction.
There were quite a few repetitions and grammatical errors still present in the version I read. Since English is not the first language of the author, this is hardly surprising and would be easily remedied by a thorough pass by an editor and proofreader.
Despite those errors, I enjoyed the story for what it is – a fun, lightweight novel and I would recommend it for fans of YA stories featuring supernatural beings, such as the Twilight saga.
About the Author
Anca’s overactive imagination pours into her stories bringing otherworldly creatures to life. She writes about mystical creatures, mystery, and adventure with a hint of Romance.
Her debut novel, Forget Me Not, is the first part of a trilogy published in 2020.
Before starting her writing journey, Anca was active in the blogging community as a fantasy book reviewer. The fanfiction stories she wrote long before she dreamed of being a writer are still popular and available on her blog. Although not as often, she still posts book reviews and book recommendations on her blog www.summonfantasy.com.
Living in Romania, Anca speaks English as a second language and is quite self-conscious about her accent, which is why she never speaks in her videos on TikTok. She loves taking long walks through the parks to recharge her batteries before a writing sprint. She loves cooking and can often be found in the kitchen trying out a new recipe while an audiobook keeps her entertained.
Rae’s inner musings were rudely interrupted when it started to rain heavily.
“Ready to go up?” he asked, but before she got the chance to respond, Rae felt herself being encased by strong arms with an iron grip, and her feet were no longer touching the ground. She felt something she couldn’t even identify, some sort of high-speed movement that made her dizzy. But before she had time to freak out, he put her down safe and sound. When he let her go Rae’s feet wouldn’t hold, so he grabbed her arms to steady her.
“Breathe!” he whispered gently.
She took a deep breath and sighed with relief as the fresh air filled her lungs.
“All good now?”
She nodded since she wasn’t sure her voice was strong enough to speak. He let go of her arms.
Rae looked around and saw nothing. She could tell they were inside the cave because it wasn’t raining there. Silence filled the space. Rae held her breath for a moment and listened unable to detect any movement around her. Was he gone?
“Ari, are you still here?” she whispered.
“Yes,” came the answer. He was right behind her, his mouth inches from her ear, too close for her comfort. She swallowed hard.
“I can’t see anything,” she complained.
“That’s OK, take my hand!”
Rae coyly reached out for him. His hand found hers first. Slim, wet fingers gave Rae an uneasy feeling. She felt him tug at her arm, but she wouldn’t budge. In the absence of moonlight, Rae was utterly blind.
“Can you actually see anything?” she groaned in frustration.
“Yes,” came the answer.
“How come you can and I can’t?” she pressed, expecting another half answer if any.
“I’ve got …skills,” he sounded almost bored.
Maybe he got bored with her questions. Rae decided not to push her luck. Guided by his hand, she took little steps, always trying the ground with the tip of her foot and a stretched arm in front of her to make sure she wouldn’t hit a wall. He couldn’t help but snicker at her helplessness.
“Let me help you,” he said, mildly amused. Before Rae had time to think, Ari picked her up.
“I see I no longer frighten you,” he whispered in her ear.
“I see…nothing!” she tried to mock him.
“Mmm, you’ve got a sense of humor,” he continued.
“Look, I’m tired and wet and cold and… hungry! I have no idea where I am, and I can’t see a damn thing! And on top of all that I can feel a headache coming on. If you want to kill me, do it already!” Her voice broke down with frustration.
“You’re giving up that easily?” he asked in disbelief.
“Whatever…” she murmured, resting her head on his shoulder.
A few steps later, he stopped and put Rae down. The cave was quite deep, and he carried her for a while. Although it wasn’t warm in there, at least it wasn’t windy, and it was safe from the rain.
“Thank you,” she said as soon as she felt the ground beneath her feet.
“You’re welcome!” he replied.
As she stood there, Rae felt the slight draft of cold air like something or someone had moved really fast. Then she heard his voice several feet away.
“I’m going to start a fire for you. You’ll have both light and warmth!” Then he struck a match and saw the first glimmer of light. At first, it was a dim light, but as the fire grew, the light got stronger, and she could see part of the cave. Rae briefly wondered where he got the wood for the fire, but that thought died before she had time to say it out loud. She was astonished by the view. She’d never seen a cave like that before.
The part of the cave Rae was in was somewhat secluded from the rest of it, almost like a room. A round-shaped room with a pool in the middle. From one of the walls leaked water, probably a spring, that was running through a narrow channel straight into the pool. Seeing steam rising from the water, Rae realized it was a thermal spring.
“Wow…” It was the only word that she could utter while her eyes were scanning the inside of the cave.
“Impressed?” he asked with a smile.
“Who wouldn’t be?”
“Someone jaded, someone who has nothing to live for, who’s too numb to care for anything…anymore,” he mocked her.
Was that how he saw her? And, more importantly, was he wrong?
“You’ll be safe here for the night, and warm, and clean,” he added while showing towards the pool.
“Are you leaving?” Rae asked perhaps a little too fast. For some reason, she felt safe with him.
“Do you want me to stay?” She could read the surprise in his voice.
She didn’t really know what to say, so she kept her mouth shut.
“I thought you were afraid of me,” he continued.
“I was. I am.” She lowered her gaze to the ground feeling uncomfortable.
He smiled, and she felt flushed.
“You come here with a death wish, only you don’t know it. You dance with the devil, then run for your life. One moment you’re terrified of me, the next you don’t want me to leave. You’re such a mess, my lady!” he concluded with a mischievous smile as if he finally figured her out.
“I’m only confused…” Rae tried to downplay her emotional state, so she skipped the whole… ‘enraged’, ‘frustrated’, ‘useless’ and ‘painfully lonely. Being confused didn’t sound as bad, in comparison.
“You’ve been through a lot.”
“I feel like I’ve been through hell,” Rae mumbled softly.
“I doubt you know what real hell feels like…” he said with no malice.
He stood up and came towards her at a slow pace.
“You’ll feel different in the morning. You have dried blood and dirty clothes. You need to clean yourself up. Undress!”
“Take off your clothes so you can rinse them, then put them by the fire to dry. Then go into the pool and clean yourself. The water is warm, it’ll do you good!”
“Are you going to watch?” she asked, staring him straight in the eyes.
It took him a moment to get what she was pitching at. He closed his eyes and smiled.
“No. I’ll go hunting. I’ll bring you something tasty!” Rae saw the hint of a smirk just before he turned his back on her.
“It’s still raining…” Rae said.
“I don’t mind the rain!” were his last words as he left the cave.
Rae was all alone. She considered his words and took in her appearance. She had cuts and scratches on her feet and legs, and mud all over, her shirt was torn at one side. Her arms were also covered in cuts, scrapes, and dried blood. Her whole body was sore, and the prospect of a hot bath was incredibly appealing.
Rae shed her clothes and quickly rinsed them in the pool, then laid them to dry by the fire. It felt awkward to stay there naked. At first, she kept glancing around to make sure that no one walked in on her. But there was no one there. Only Ari knew where she was, and he was gone hunting. After a short debate, Rae concluded that he wasn’t coming back soon. So she lowered herself into the pool. The water was hip-high and wonderfully hot. As she got comfortable, the water came up to her neck. Though all her cuts and scratches were hurting like hell, her muscles relaxed, welcoming the warmth. She rested her head on the edge of the pool, which, fortunately, was rounded. Rae sighed and closed her eyes, allowing the hot water to soak every inch of her skin. Now was a great moment to get her head straight and make a plan but she just couldn’t bring herself to think. So, on the spur of the moment, Rae decided to just go with the flow at this point. She’d make a plan later, for now, she was going to enjoy the moment. Rae debated if she’d ever appreciated a bath so much. Apparently, the context makes all the difference. She smiled at that thought.
“You have a crooked smile. It suits you!”
She opened her eyes in shock. Ari stood at the edge of the pool with a smile on his face. He crouched by the pool and looked away.
“I didn’t mean to scare you, Rae!”
“I… I thought you said you’re going hunting…” She tried to regroup quickly while bringing her knees to the chest and putting her arms around them. That would have covered just about everything there was to see.
“Dinner!” he said, dangling a dead rabbit.
Rae wondered what time it was. Surely it was way past midnight and a few hours away from dawn – So it was neither dinner nor breakfast.
“More like a midnight snack,” she concluded out loud.
“You’re starving, and you worry about semantics?!” he snorted and looked in her direction for a moment, then kept looking away. Maybe he was a gentleman, she thought to herself.
“So, are you enjoying your bath?” he asked as he walked away.
“Yeah, as a matter of fact, I am.” Rae tried to sound just as casual as he seemed.
“Good. I’ll take care of the food,” he added wiggling the rabbit.
She watched him from behind. He went by the fire and sat with his back on Rae. She couldn’t exactly figure out what he was doing but it looked wrong. It looked as if he was eating the rabbit with fur and all. That couldn’t be it. That would have been really gross.
“What are you…”
“Don’t watch!” he cut her off.
“Why?” she barely whispered.
“The less you know…”
“The better!” she ended the sentence for him.
“Besides, if you saw me like that, it would freak you out.”
Rae closed her eyes but curiosity got the best of her, so she pried her eyes open. There he was, shirtless… and very busy with his hand. He was skinning the rabbit at an incredibly fast pace. He was done in a matter of minutes. Then, with his bare hands, he tore the rabbit into pieces, like it was made of nothing.
Before she knew it, the meat was put on makeshift skewers above the fire.
He stood up and went to the spring to clean his face but not before Rae caught a glimpse of it. He had smeared blood all around his mouth and dripping from his chin. She didn’t know whether to be grossed out or frightened to death. He looked different, otherworldly like he had just stepped out of a horror movie.
He washed his hands and face in the spring.
“I warned you not to watch,” he stated calmly when he saw the shock on her face.
“I couldn’t help…” she barely whispered.
“And now you wish you had better self-control,” he continued Rae’s train of thought.
“I didn’t say that! I just…” she was at a loss for words.
“It wasn’t what you expected to see,” he concluded for her.
“Yeah, something like that. But I don’t get it, why didn’t you use a knife like any other hunter?” she asked, trying to shed some light.
“I’m not that kind of hunter,” he replied.
Seeing the confusion on her face, he continued explaining.
“I don’t need weapons to kill my prey, I only use my hands.” He was watching closely for her reaction. Rae wondered if he was trying to impress her or scare the hell out of her. Probably both.
“No weapons? Ever?” she asked in surprise.
“No. Not in a long time,” he confirmed.
“How is that even possible?”
“I’ve got skills…and speed…and strength,” he smiled mischievously at her.
“And no room for modesty!” Rae shot back with sarcasm.
“I like that you have your sense of humor back. You must be feeling better.”
“I never lost it. And yes, I do feel better! Actually, I think I overstayed in the pool. My fingertips are all wrinkled. I think I’m as clean as it gets.”