Review by Booklist Review
Ever since Douglas Jones, a Black teen, arrived at Regent Academy, the woods have been talking to him. But that isn't the only thing on his mind. The only reason he's even at the prestigious, secluded, and historically white school is that it's a condition of avoiding jail time for burning down a building full of people. All he and his mom had to do was move to Winslow, Vermont, and keep out of trouble. But trouble has a way of finding Douglas. When he finds a student dead in the woods one night, Douglas is rightly afraid, but the next day, nobody seems to remember the boy ever existed. Nobody, that is, except for Emmett Everley, son of the groundskeeper. As Douglas searches for answers, he inadvertently wakes up an ancient curse, unleashing the anger of the forest upon Regent Academy and the town. Douglas and the white Everley siblings (Emmett and Emma) head into the woods to break the curse, facing power and darkness beyond comprehension. Jackson (Yesterday Is History, 2021) digs deep to weave together an exploration of generational trauma, moral corruption, and the power that comes from letting go of the past. Jackson's novel is a fantastical, queer, grotesque, messy story that fans of dark academia and horror will love.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Jackson (Under the Dome) examines themes of heartbreak, magic, and queer love in this exhilarating fantasy horror novel. Students are disappearing from Regent Academy, an ultra-exclusive boarding school in Winslow, Vt. And it's not just their bodies that go missing--everyone's memories of them vanish, too. Seventeen-year-old Douglas Jones, a Black queer scholarship student, seems to be the only person who remembers the teen who was found murdered on the perimeter of the school's forest. Things get even stranger when Douglas--who has been hearing voices coming from the woods--is thrust into a world of magic after awakening in the forest covered in blood. Accompanied by the 17-year-old son of the groundskeeper who's been tasked with keeping watch over the forest and the deadly creatures that live within it, Douglas must untangle Winslow's dark history or risk being swallowed up by the mythical forest's darkness. Uneven pacing and simplistic prose sometimes stymie the intricate worldbuilding. Still, the pulse-pounding twists, riveting premise, and the enticing character dynamics formed amid intriguing magical troubles ensure that readers will want to follow along to the end. Ages 14--up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Oct.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--A centuries-old curse plagues a prestigious academy nestled in a Vermont forest in this fantasy/horror novel. Douglas Jones, a queer, Black teenager from Washington, DC, is given a fresh start at Regent Academy in the aftermath of a deadly apartment fire he was unfairly accused of causing. However, he feels isolated and frustrated at the predominately white school, and is unnerved by strange voices he alone hears emanating from the Atolas Forest. Unease turns to horror when a student is murdered there, and no one other than Douglas and the groundskeeper, Everett Everley, even remember the student's existence. Douglas learns that this is due to an ancient curse, and that he was brought to Regent because the Headmaster believes Douglas holds a unique power that can end it. With the aid of Everett, 17, Douglas works to understand his powers, unravel the mystery surrounding the curse, and ultimately confront a presence that inhabits the heart of the forest. The book shines in developing compelling motivations for its central characters, but a romance between Douglas and Everett feels forced, and the book's resolution is uneven and chaotic. There are a few scenes depicted that might be too graphically violent for younger or more sensitive readers. VERDICT The action and suspense are a good fit for fans of both horror and dark academia, though veterans of the genre may find parts of the story uninspiring. A solid choice for larger collections.--Michael Van Wambeke
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A whispering forest surrounds a school full of deadly secrets. After being accused of setting a fire that caused multiple deaths, Black high school junior Douglas accepts a full scholarship to prestigious Regent Academy in rural Vermont, an institution filled with privileged students that's known for producing leaders. After a fight with a bully, Douglas comes to in the forest and realizes this opportunity of a lifetime has been twisted into something nightmarish. After another classmate goes missing, and no one seems to recall the boy's existence, Douglas approaches Headmaster Monroe about the strange events. Monroe recognizes the significance of what Douglas experienced, and Douglas agrees to take part in Monroe's plans. Lured to the forest (which seems to call to him in many voices) and unsure of his own senses, Douglas seeks answers from rugged and aloof groundskeeper Everett Everley, the blond 17-year-old descendant of a family with its own connections to the forest. As Douglas' inner strength becomes clearer, Everett trains him for a standoff against a terrifying and powerful force. They both fear more lives are at risk, including their own. As they work together, the mutual attraction between Douglas and Everett grows. Alongside the growing body count, this satisfying and suspenseful genre-bender delivers an uplifting gay romance: It's the perfect choice for fans of high-intensity action, surprising twists, and fantastically frightening creatures. A bold addition to queer dark academia stories. (Horror/fantasy. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.