Sixteen-year-old Silvie and her childhood friend Bird run away to Woodshire Forest after Silvie's tyrannical and abusive older brother, John, is named sheriff of Loughsley. The teens form their own community in the woods that includes a pregnant, towering girl called Little Jane, a midwife named Mae Tuck and a band of fed-up Loughsley residents. As Silvie learns about the common folk's suffering, she begins stealing from her family to help the destitute villagers. Soon, a full-blown rebellion starts and Silvie faces the consequences of turning her back on her bully brother.
Betsy Cornwell (Venturess) sets Silvie's uprising against a lush forest where "light springs out of the leaves" and the snow "threads through the forest, white tangles on a green loom. A scrim of frost on every fallen leaf." Cornwell's vivid, lyrical descriptions in The Forest Queen bring nature to life and showcase the threats each season brings, steadily building tension and pushing Silvie closer to understanding the everyday injustices her band endures.
In this gender-swapping Robin Hood retelling, Silvie is an inspiring young woman who discovers that it doesn't take much to stand up to oppressors--she is a champion, fighting against inequality, who doesn't see herself as a hero. Silvie refuses to be called mistress (she's "nobody's mistress out here") and fails to see that her selfless actions are fanning the revolutionary fires. But when the critical time comes for her to step up to be an official leader, she embraces it, finally understanding that "just living is fighting, sometimes." --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader