Sunday, November 24, 2019

Book Review: The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

Published: April 28, 2013
Publisher: self-published
Read February 11-13, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.
What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.


This review will contain some slight spoilers. Also, content warning for mentions of consent issues and rape.

There are a lot of problems with the way this book portrays mental illness. We're told at the beginning of the story that Allison's mom has schizophrenia, but it's clear early on that this isn't true. We learn later that she fell in love with Allison's father, who's fey, and not being around him is what causes her symptoms. (It's described as being a kind of addiction in the book.)

Portrayal of schizophrenia is rare in fiction, and to be told a character has it only for that to not be true and there instead by a magical explanation isn't fair for the people who so rarely see themselves represented in fiction. I don't like how that was presented at all, and the whole idea of humans becoming "addicted" to fey also left me uneasy. I'm supposed to believe that Allison's parents are in love with each other, but that's not possible if her father is like a drug to her mother. That's not love; her mother doesn't actually have a choice.

That was a problem throughout the story. Considering the effect the fey—or Danaan as they're called in the book—have on humans, there are a number of situations where consent is iffy at best in this book. This is something that I think books about fey often have problems with, but that didn't make it less disappointing. Ethan is nearly raped at one point in the book.

Allison's love interest also sucked and constantly made comments about how hot girls were. It got old very fast, and I definitely wasn't rooting for them to be together.

Allison is also vocal about not liking "kids" (she uses that word even though she's supposed to be 21) her own age. Throughout the book, she's incredibly judgmental of everyone around her, and it made her unlikable and just a pain to read about.

A character named Rachel makes a "joke" that Allison must be a lesbian because she's a virgin at 21. Do I need to discuss all of the layers of cringe there?

I just didn't like this book at all, and I wouldn't recommend it.

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