Zo and the Forest of Secrets by Alake Pilgrim

Published by Knights Of, 2022.

I was pulled into Zo’s world right from the very first page of this standout MG début. Within the first chapter, there was magic and mystery and hints of an adventure that was about to begin. I was hooked.

When Zo decides to run away from home, she isn’t scared; after all, she knows the island like the back of her hand. But, as she journeys through the once-familiar forest, terrifying creatures and warped visions begin to emerge. With a strange beast on her heels and a lost boy thrown into her path, could a mysterious abandoned research facility hold answers? Zo must unravel the secrets of the forest before she is lost in them forever…

The story is set on the island of Trinidad and richly evokes the country’s cultural heritage: the food, the clothing, and the traditions associated with island life, as well as its remarkable flora and fauna. Alake Pilgrim succeeds in bringing a place I have never visited – but now very much wish to – alive on the page.

I loved the futuristic, science-fiction elements of the story. Terrifying creatures born of secret experiments in a lab had an exciting Stranger Things vibe. The book is genuinely scary in parts: unnatural hybrid creatures, tense chase scenes and unexplained goings-on.

Zo is a terrific lead character: brave, resourceful and very relatable. I also liked how the book explored themes of friendship and eco-consciousness – topics which will resonate with its young audience.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 10+

Thank you to Knights Of for sending me this book to review.

Zo and the Forest of Secrets, published by Knights Of is out on 2nd June, priced £7.99

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