Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Less Than Three Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The village on the Edge of the Broken Forest is terrorised by a creature that comes in the night and steals women and children. Finally they send for a Huntress, Adamina, a woman warrior in a red cloak who slays monsters. With the help of her magical wolf and the witch, Grete, Adamina journeys into the heart of the forest to find what has corrupted and poisoned it and stop the killings.
The story is a sort of fairy tale mashup, with elements of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and Beauty and the Beast and others used to create an intriguing fantasy setting with its own rules. I'd be interested to see that world developed more in a novel length work because in this short story it felt like I was just getting used to how things worked when it ended.
The Broken Forest is part of Lt3 Press' Damsels in Distress collection, a series of stories about LGBTQIA women finding their own way out of trouble. Based on this, I assumed, incorrectly that this would be a lesbian story, and it came as a total surprise to me when it is mentioned in passing that Adamina, the Huntress, has a penis. There's nothing wrong with having a transgendered main character, but the fact that this is never mentioned by any of the characters and Adamina's female lover doesn't find it remotely surprising or even worth remarking on seemed a bit odd. Maybe all the Huntresses are trans, though that seems like something that should be mentioned when explaining where they come from and what they do.
While I know you're not supposed to judge books that way I was attracted to this one by its pretty cover. The story did actually deliver the creepy atmosphere that the cover promised, especially in the part where Adamina encounters the beast, and in her journey into the forest. However, I have to say I found the romance unconvincing and the use of Deus ex Machina at the end of the story a bit disappointing.
The Broken Forest is a queer fairy tale set in a world with potential for more interesting stories yet to come. It's very short and could easily be read in one sitting.