Review: Forgotten

I admit I wasn't too excited at first when I learned that Camille Peters' new book, Forgotten would be based on one of my least favorite fairy tales "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it bears little resemblance to this story is actually a stealth retelling of "Romeo and Juliet." It is a heartfelt tale of forbidden love and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. This book evokes some heavy emotions that I really appreciate during a time when most stories have become more about politics than feelings. I found myself drawn to the characters and their surprisingly steamy romance. This is the first Camille Peters book set in this world that I feel stands on its own as an original classic.

Forgotten by Camille Peters

Princess Taryn has a secret. Though she is loyal to her crown, she is also in love with the enemy prince, Xander, and will not let logic or reason stop her from sneaking away to be with him even if it kills her. Xander is obsessed with Taryn but must pretend to hate her in public for fear of what might happen if his wicked father learns of their secret rendezvous behind closed doors. The first half of the book explores the lovers' facade until Xander must make the ultimate sacrifice to save Taryn. Can these star-crossed lovers find each other again when they have no memory of their relationship? The heartwrenching conclusion triggers many strong emotions as Taryn and Xander struggle to break the spell that caused them to lose the most precious thing in their lives.

As usual with Camille Peters, the love story is by far the strongest aspect of Forgotten. When it comes to "Romeo and Juliet" type stories, the most important thing is to make the romance believable. Taryn and Xander have a very physical relationship, which is surprising considering this series is usually squeaky clean. Though nothing in the book goes beyond what would be considered a PG rating, it is the most riskqué story in the Enchanted Kingdom Chronicles thus far. These two can't keep their hands off each other. At times, the romance between Taryn and Xander can be a bit superficial and feels more it draws from the excitement of sneaking around and being naughty than a genuine bond. However, it is made clear through the passage of time and their many letters, which read more like private messages on a dating app, that they are completely devoted to each other.

The book is not without its flaws. I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief for certain elements of the world, namely the "relics," which are similar to the enchanted jewels from Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders. It is a tradition for future kings and queens to find a magic relic for their kingdom as a rite of passage for the throne. However, it is not explained how these relics got lost in the first place and why each monarch can only obtain one. If there are such powerful items scattered throughout the land, wouldn't there be other people looking for them as well? What do future monarchs do after all the relics are claimed? It's also unclear how the relics' powers work. For instance, Taryn and Xander spend a good portion of the book seeking the Relic of Peace to end the feud between their two kingdoms, but how would it do that without brainwashing their citizens to lose their memories of the feud in the first place? These two lovers should know all too well how dangerous the effects of magical amnesia can be.

Overall, Forgotten is a touching love story that will tug at your heartstrings. It addresses many of the challenges that Romeo and Juliet would have had to face before their tragic downfall. The risqué romance gives this book an older target audience than many of the others in this series. The adventure and heartbreak of Taryn and Xander's relationship allow readers to overlook many of the plot details that don't make sense. I was also touched by Taryn's friendship with her royal guard, Elowen, and hope to see more of her in a future book. Forgotten is a must-read for fans of forbidden lovers and fairy tales.

Comments

whitephoenix said…
Sounds like a great book! Thanks for letting your readers know about it. The summary for it on Amazon makes me feel this is more inspired by The Snow Queen (along with Romeo & Juliet as you said) than East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which I can't really see any parallels or homages to.

Just curious, but how come East of the Sun and West of the Moon is one of your least favorite fairy tales?
Lisa Dawn said…
"The Snow Queen" is the other story that this book is based on, but I didn't feel like it was a major enough aspect of the book to make it worth mentioning, especially after I had just reviewed another book that drew far more inspiration from it.

As for "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," my opinion may have been tainted by my original introduction to it. Someone recommended the film The Polar Bear King to me several years ago, which is pretty much a direct adaptation of the fairy tale, and I thought it was awful! The actors showed no emotions, and the protagonist had a higher murder count than any of the villains even though she was supposed to be "pure."

I also feel like the story doesn't have a positive moral lesson like other popular fairy tales such as "Cinderella" or "Beauty and the Beast" because unlike the heroines from those stories, who are kind and loving, this one disobeys direct orders not to look upon her husband (or fiancé depending on the version) while he sleeps and nearly sabotages all of her chances to be with him just because her family thought he might be ugly. Yet, in the end, she still gets everything she wants. Plus, the story begins with a forced marriage, which is never a good way to start a relationship. Are you a fan of the story?
whitephoenix said…
I never realized there was a movie. I looked it up and it does seem to have been made very cheaply, which is probably why I've never heard of it before. I can't believe the heroine has such a high murder count! That's outrageous and I can't imagine how that could even happen. This reminds me of all the people who put down the princesses but love Mulan, whilst ignoring the fact that she has the highest murder count out of any Disney character ever.

I would argue though that a disobedient heroine is a staple in Beauty and the Beast type stories. In Disney's version, Belle disobeys the Beast's warning never to enter the West Wing. In Bluebeard, the heroine disobeys her husband which is how she finds out about his bloody past. In the original BATB fairy tale, Beauty breaks her vow to the Beast to return to the castle after a week because her sisters influence her into staying longer and how it won't be a big deal. The BATB template came from the classic Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche which also has the heroine Psyche break a promise by looking at her husband Cupid in the middle of the night while he's sleeping. And from what I remember from these stories, including East/West, the heroine is separated from her prince for a full year during which time she's out searching for him all over the world. So I always felt that was the price she paid for disobedience and she earned her happy ending after all that work and long span of time. You're right though that forced marriage is never good but I suppose that because of fairy tale logic, I've been willing to dismiss that because we know that unlike in real life, the prince and princess are always meant to be together.

I would consider myself a fan of the story although I never really grew up with it (or Norwegian fairy tales in general). I always liked how it was an interesting mix of BATB and The Snow Queen and more proof that there are fairy tales where the heroine can save the prince so fairy tales aren't sexist at all despite the bad rep they get. The imagery of a girl riding on a polar bear and meeting the winds at each pole also captivated me. On Deviantart, there used to be some great fanart of a Disney-style version of the story and I loved what I saw.
Lisa Dawn said…
You make a fair point. I just always felt that wanting to look at him just because she thought he might be ugly was incredibly shallow and selfish. At least Beauty wanted to stay for her family's sake, and the heroine from Bluebeard sensed she was in danger. As far as the movie goes, everyone the heroine killed was supposedly a wicked troll or minion, but we never actually saw them do anything wicked, which made her look worse in comparison.
whitephoenix said…
I should reread the story because I don't remember her reasoning for wanting to look at her husband's true face. I might be mixing it up with other similar stories where the heroine is warned by her family that her husband might be a monster. Thanks for explaining about the movie.

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