I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the first book in Jennifer Alsever’s Trinity Forest series — Ember Burning — because it sounded like something I would definitely enjoy. It’s a book about loss, grief, survival, and a mystery that slowly pulls you in, beckoning you further into the forest.
Here’s the Goodreads synopsis, which is a little more detailed than the one on Amazon:
Senior year was supposed to be great — that’s what Ember’s friend Maddie promised at the beginning of the year. Instead, Ember Trouvé spends the year drifting in and out of life like a ghost, haunted by her parents’ recent, tragic death.
At home, she pores over her secret obsession: pictures of missing kids — from newspaper articles, from grocery store flyers — that she’s glued inside a spiral notebook. Like her, the people are lost. Like her, she discovers, they had been looking for a way to numb their pain when they disappeared.
When Ember finds herself in Trinity Forest one day, a place locals stay away from at all costs, she befriends a group of teenagers who are camping. Hanging out with them in the forest tainted with urban legends of witchcraft and strange disappearances, she has more fun than she can remember having. But something isn’t right.
The candy-covered wickedness she finds in Trinity proves to be a great escape, until she discovers she can never go home. Will Ember confront the truth behind her parents’ death, or stay blissfully numb and lose herself in the forest forever?
What I Liked:
- As I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I honestly think that may be the best way to go into it. It’s strange and captivating and intense, and even if, like me, it takes some time for you to really become invested in the story, it’s a wild ride with a cliffhanger that will leave you eager for the next book.
- I think Alsever handled the pacing very nicely; this book never felt like it was dragging or speeding by too quickly. The pace picks up considerably towards the end, but you’ll understand why if you read it. (No spoilers here! 😀)
- For the first time in what feels like an eternity, I can finally say that I like a romantic plot line in a story. Ember and Tre just grew on me, and I couldn’t help but feel something for them. It seemed realistic and reasonable, and it worked well within the story.
- I loved the inclusion of synesthesia in this story. It’s a perceptual condition that’s always interested me, and I really like the way this book handled it.
- Other things I liked: the Egyptian mythology, the thriller vibes, Trinity Forest (fascinating and unique setting — I’m also a huge fan of creepy/magical/weird forests 🌳✨), and the supporting characters (Alsever gives them distinct personalities and motivations).
What I Disliked:
- This might have something to do with the fact that I was a boring, not-impulsive/exciting-in-the-slightest teenager (seriously, so boring), but Ember’s impulsiveness began to bother me at some point. Overall, I think she’s a great character, and seeing her have to deal with difficult emotions like guilt and grief was one of my favorite aspects of this book. But there were a few moments that made me want to sit her down and try to talk some sense into her.
- It took me a while to get into this book — probably until the middle, to be honest. But once I got to that point, I was all in. Basically, if you’re not totally feeling it at the beginning, give it some time.
- Some of the content might not be appropriate for younger teen readers, and that might be good to know before reading it. But it’s not mature content for the sake of mature content — it all serves a purpose within the story, and it doesn’t seem out of place.
I really enjoyed this book, and I will likely be picking up the next one in the series sometime soon! 🙂 If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, definitely check it out. I’ve heard the audiobook is pretty great, too!
**Thank you to Jennifer Alsever and Melissa Robles for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.