Title: Out of the Woods
Author: TJ Land
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 95 Pages
Category: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, New Adult
At a Glance: An interesting concept of a story and well-written characters I actually didn’t like.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: There’s a corpse in the mushroom patch.
Ruth isn’t bothered; she collects dead things in jars under her bed. Her best friend, Hermana, is very upset, but only because the mushroom patch the corpse is lying in happens to be theirs, and the woods in which it decided to die happen to be their woods. Growing up shunned by the proper folk who live down in the valley, the two odd young women take a hard view of anyone who invades their quiet, wild world.
Their hopes that the problem will take care of itself fade when the corpse doesn’t decay. Worse, when they try to bury it they find it’s too heavy to lift into the grave; far heavier than a human should be. And when they try to burn it, its skin won’t catch light. But soon the corpse’s invulnerability and strangely pointy ears are the least of their worries. A fungus has begun to stain the ground around it, killing weeds and mushrooms, then trees and animals. When it reaches the river, people start falling ill.
As their home sickens and rots around them, the girls search for a way to dispose of the cursed corpse. At the same time, Hermana searches for a way to confess her feelings to Ruth, before her best friend is stolen away from her by the handsome nobleman who lives nearby.
Review: If you’ve read my other reviews of TJ Land’s work, you know that I absolutely love the author. With this book, I have read everything the author has recently written. Though I discovered the author through their M/M books, this book is actually F/F. And though I don’t often read lesbian fiction, I chose to read Out of the Woods because I love the author and their writing.
This book is well-written. The world building was interesting, and I enjoyed Hermana’s affection for her friend, and her jealousy when a young man shows interest in Ruth. I loved how they had a secret place that belonged to just them, and how they felt it was disrupted when a corpse showed up to spoil it.
And that’s where things take a turn for the weird. The story is new adult, and it has touches of supernatural horror which was great. The strangeness of the corpse—from the pointy ears, excessive weight, and inability to rot—made me wonder just what was happening. At first the girls attempt to get rid of the corpse in any way that they can, and when a fungus begins to spread, killing everything around it… well, that’s when I started to dislike the characters.
Even though the characters are well-written, I disliked their actions. Or, rather, lack of. They appeared so caught up in themselves and their secret that they didn’t see a very real problem growing to the point where people around them begin to die.
It’s obvious to readers what the problem is, and it’s obvious to the girls, too. They had a solution to the problem in the form of an intriguing character, Maggie, but they don’t turn to her.
Granted the story would have been over very fast if the girls did reveal the corpse to an adult, but still. So much loss could have been avoided if they’d acted smarter about the situation.
Because the book is so short, I don’t want to reveal too much. Despite not liking the characters, I still do recommend the book because the world-building is well done, and even if the characters were selfish to me, others might understand their predicament.
I enjoy the way TJ Land writes, and, honestly, they never disappoint. This book was a departure from the Adrift series and the Villainous Love series, which shows the author’s versatility.
You can buy Out of the Woods here: