Book Review: Leafensong First Telling (Leafensong #1) by J.R. Hooge
This is a fantasy in the sense that it’s about a tribe of talking squirrels, but it isn’t a fantasy in the sense of a medieval setting, swords and magic. I’m also not sure if this is aimed at children, teens, or young adult, but it’s definitely a sweet and compelling story with some stunning illustrations throughout.
It follows two twin squirrels (Kooper and Boggs) who are different from birth. Born on the night of a terrible storm, the tree that houses their mother’s nest is struck with lightning just as she’s giving birth. They have unusual black markings, one twin (Boggs) is blind and they are also telepathic.
Taken in by their grandmother, the tribe’s healer, and their aunt, the twins grow up as outcasts due to the tribe’s fear that they are touched by darkness. However, their grandmother thinks differently and refuses to allow them to be thrown out of the tribe.
But the twins aren’t the tribe’s only problem. The squirrels, for so long living peacefully in their part of the forest called Leafensong, have spotted their arch enemies, the pack rats, near their borders. And these rats have found new ways to fight back. They want to reclaim Leafensong as their own.
As Kooper and Boggs grow up, Kooper becomes interested in a potential girlfriend, while Boggs starts hearing some crazy voices in his head that call him away from his brother and Leafensong.
It’s quite a simple plot, but there’s much to enjoy with the relationship between the twins and with their healer grandmother, and her place within the tribe. Also, the worldbuilding has just the right amount of history and sense of place. I liked how the pack rats were developing their fighting skills with new weapons and also how the squirrels were so determined to keep their tribe safe in Leafensong. The writing flows really well and it’s an easy, effortless read.
This is a sweet story that made me feel quite warm and fuzzy inside – talking squirrels! There are a couple of fight scenes, but nothing too gruesome, which is why I think this is aimed at a younger reader.
My rating: 4/5
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