January 4, 2018

The Forgotten Book: A Panoramic Review

"A Jane Austen-inspired YA tale about a sixteen-year-old girl who finds a magical book—and discovers that anything she writes inside it comes true.

Emma is used to things going her way. Her father is headmaster of her prestigious boarding school, her friends take her advice as gospel, and she's convinced that a relationship with her long-time crush is on the horizon.

As it turns out, Emma hasn't seen anything yet. When she finds an old book in an abandoned library, things really start going Emma's way: anything she writes in the book comes true.

But the power of the book is not without consequences, and Emma soon realizes that she isn't the only one who knows about it. Someone is determined to take it from her—and they'll stop at nothing to succeed.

A new boy in school—the arrogant, aloof, and irritatingly handsome Darcy de Winter—becomes Emma's unlikely ally as secrets are revealed and danger creeps ever closer.
" (from Goodreads)
The Forgotten Book by Mechthild

My reaction: I was on the fence for the first 5 or 6 chapters of this book, but really ended up enjoying it (and polishing it off in a day!). Initially I kept trying to figure out which character was supposed to represent which Austen character (as I knew the book was Austen-inspired) and I was seeing all the parallels. This was kind of distracting for me, especially considering that it pulled from both Emma and Pride & Prejudice, which seemed discordant, since it wasn't following one story or the other, but a mishmash.

However, once the magical book was introduced, this became its own story (just with elements of Austen). 

Best aspect: The fantastical, magical aspect of the story. The premise of a book that makes whatever is written in it come true was explored in interesting (and sometimes bittersweet) ways. I loved the connection to fairy tales and folklore, and the messages in this story about the power of words, and the danger of trying to make wishes come true (that could end up having unforeseen consequences!). It certainly showed magic to be a double-edged sword. Plus, the whole idea of this magical book totally gave me Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets vibes!

If I could change something... I'd flesh out some of the side characters. Charlotte and Hannah seemed very similar to me, and apart from their alignment with their Jane Austen counterparts (spoilers, highlight to read: Charlotte as Jane from P&P, Hannah as Harriet from Emma) I didn't feel like they had much personality. I also felt like Darcy fell into stereotype, and could have been explored more. I was okay with the romance but I wasn't crazy about it — while I liked their initial bickering dynamic, I thought it moved quite suddenly to an "Oh, I'm in love with him" realization without a smooth transition.

I'd also tighten up the middle of the story; it felt a little drawn-out, where for a while they kept getting clues but not getting any closer to solving the mystery! (However, I liked the mystery itself, which was very intriguing and kept me hooked, and when the reveals happened, they were well done and unexpected.) 

If you haven't read it: and you want to read a story set in a boarding school with magical elements (a la Hex Hall or Vampire Academy), but tinged with a haunting, bittersweet mystery, then this book could be what you're looking for.

If you have read it: did I miss something, or did the storyline involving (spoilers: the niece Marie) get totally dropped?

Just one more thing I wanted to mention: I liked Emma's voice. She was a little immature and made mistakes, but she wasn't irritatingly immature; she realized when she made mistakes and was willing to admit it.

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars. This is the sort of book that both makes you want to believe in magic and fear it at the same time. Definitely recommend!

Disclaimer: I received this as an ARC for review from the publisher. 


  1. I have seen this one around recently. It looks like one I think I will enjoy. I'm kind of excited to read it. :) I'm glad you ended up liking it even though the fist part of it was touch and go.

  2. I like the idea of the magical book. I can see how trying to figure out the parallels would get distracting and could make it take a little longer to get into the book. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That sounds like a great book! I just added it to my to-read list.


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