Book title: Forest of Secrets
Author: Erin Hunter
Series: Warriors, #3
Publisher: Avon Books (Harper Collins Publishers)
Release date: October 2004
Format: Paperback, 312 pages
Allegiances are shifting among the Clans of warrior cats that roam the forest. With tensions so delicately balanced, former friends can become enemies overnight, and some cats are willing to kill to get what they want.
Fireheart is determined to find out the truth about the mysterious death of brave ThunderClan warrior Redtail. But as he searches for answers, he uncovers secrets that some believe would be better left hidden.
Forest of Secrets is the third book in the original Warriors arc. And, wowzers, we’re only halfway through the six-part series and things really tuned to shiz at the end of this book! Forest of Secrets isn’t quite as exciting as Into the Wild or political as Fire and Ice, but it’s a great buildup for the chaos that’s going to ensue in the next books. Plus, the climax is intense and something we knew was a long time coming.
Plot-wise, Forest of Secrets follows some parallels between past and current ThunderClan and RiverClan mysteries, which circle around ThunderClan’s leader Bluestar and Fireheart’s BFF Graystripe. Oh, THE PARALLELS. That is all I am going to say. (Oh, and the prologue was even a flashback and it was awesome. AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE FLASHBACKS.) And, of course, there’s Tigerclaw stirring up more trouble, scheming, and attempting murder. Just, you know, what the evil a-hole does on a daily basis.
One great thing about the Warriors books is Fireheart’s friendship with Graystripe. It is especially strong here. So strong Fireheart is even willing to go against clan law in order to protect his friend and stick up for Graystripe. I really love the unwavering friendship these two cats have. It’s amazing, even though they have their major ups and major downs (like in Fire and Ice). Graystripe’s a pretty poor excuse for a mentor to his apprentice Brackenpaw (OMG, Brackenpaw’s humble beginnings!) because he’s running off to meet his secret love Silverstream from RiverClan — and relationships between cats from different clans is a major no-no. But Fireheart doesn’t give up on Graystripe, and is one of the few cats to be there when the rest of ThunderClan shun Graystripe for his law-breaking secret. Gah, Fireheart and Graystripe’s friendship just kills me.
Bluestar also shows another side to her! I love Bluestar. Although as the series goes on I remember, back when I read these books as a kid, I started to like her less as the series went on… but I’ll get to that when I reread the rest of the books. (Don’t get ahead of yourself, Mallory, this is a review of Forest of Secrets only.) Anyway, Bluestar is a great leader, though she’s not without flaws, and sometimes her judgment isn’t completely spot on (although mostly it is). She’s got so much history that only gets brushed at in this book. But Bluestar’s hot-and-cold temperament is definitely easier to understand now that we’re learning more about her. (And if you’ve read her separate book, Bluestar’s Prophecy, like I have, you’ll really understand where she’s coming from and why she acts the way she does.)
Yellowfang and Cinderpaw are my favorite characters thus far. Medicine cats FTW! But Cloudkit, who finally becomes an apprentice and is renamed Cloudpaw in this book, is also a winner. Gotta love that rambunctious fur-ball! It’s also awesome seeing Longtail’s hostility and d-headedness toward Fireheart because he becomes such a loyal, cool elder in later Warriors series. Also, let me just mention THE FORESHADOWING. I squealed like a kit when the foreshadowing first happened, and then when the event occurred later in the book.
One thing I noticed while rereading this book (because I’ve read these Warriors novels many times throughout my childhood) is that Forest of Secrets spells things out a bit more than necessary. There’s a lot of (correct) speculation that our protagonist Fireheart does, such as, Oh, this might be why X happened, and Oh, maybe so-and-so did Y because of Z. A bit too much hand-holding at times, but this is a series for kids, and I was a kid when I first read these books. So going back to them now, things are easier to predict. Plus, I know what’s going to happen, so there’s not so much surprise anymore. This is just a small nitpick, nothing that detracts from the story overall.
I’m also skimming all the “filler” scenes now, like hunting and patrolling and training. Like I said in my review of Fire and Ice, once you’ve read one hunting scene, you’ve read them all. I know it’s great to have the daily lives of our heroes included, and the details are good to have, but I’m here for the characters and the plot, not for hunting mice, although that is obviously very important and one way the books are unique in the sense that they’re about clans of wild cats.
Oh, this just occurred to me, but the clans in Warriors are a little like the houses in Harry Potter. ThunderClan is like Gryffindor, with brave, loyal cats who do the right thing. Though our main characters aren’t afraid to break rules in order to do so. ShadowClan is like Slytherin, pretty much painted as a permanently dark, evil, aggressive, law-breaking group of d-heads. RiverClan is like Ravenclaw, to an extent, as RiverClan is very smart, though they’re also aggressive when they want to be. WindClan is Hufflepuff, kind of in their own little world, a little meek sometimes, and friendly with their neighbors. Kinda. Well, sometimes. In Forest of Secrets they’re having a spat against ThunderClan. Where in Fire and Ice it was RiverClan that was siding with ShadowClan, here in book 3 WindClan is siding with ShadowClan. As I said, there are exceptions, but when looking at all the clans over the span of all the series, WindClan is definitely more like Hufflepuff.
Forest of Secrets is a great installment in the Warriors series, with a killer ending that leaves ThunderClan with more problems than ever. Nothing is resolved, things just got worse. And there are still three more books to sort things out! I’m dying to reread the next book, Rising Storm, but I’m restraining myself because I’ve got a bunch of other books I need to read this month. Next month, though (or earlier, if I cave to my Warriors nostalgia), I’ll be reviewing Rising Storm, book 4 in the best series about cats, and solely about cats, I’ve ever read! Gah, I love these books. ❤ ♦
Have you read Forest of Secrets? Or any Warriors books?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s your favorite literary cat? (Do you even like cats?)
Comment below letting me know!
And, as always, happy reading!