Forest Of Lies by Chris Speyer (book review).

August 17, 2016 | By | Reply More

At times of economic crisis, all publishing houses consolidate and cut costs. One area affected is the willingness to nurture and develop new talent. It is not surprising then that frustrated authors will put new technology to use to get their product into the public domain. Much of it is unoriginal and unedited but within the mass there are gems. The Rubery Award For Self-Published Books and those from the independent presses hunts out some of those jewels. This year, three of the Children’s & Y/A shortlist have been Science Fiction. ‘Forest Of Lies’ is one of them. So, congratulations to Chris Speyer for making it onto the shortlist.


The novel is set around 2030. Climate change is a huge issue and, as a result migration, is a big problem. This doesn’t really affect Mark, whose father is head of Global Solutions, a company that works with governments. He lives in a high rise apartment block within the London Wall, a barrier protecting the wealthy from terrorism. It isn’t much help when the Thames Barrier fails because money hasn’t been made available to keep it in good order. ‘Forest Of Lies’ opens with action. A call from his father tells Mark to get to the roof now! where a helicopter would pick him up. Except that the door to the roof is blocked. Mark has to find another way up as the water rises around his home.

This first couple of chapters are really a pre-amble to the bulk of the novel as Mark is taken out of the devastated city to stay with his aunt who farms on the Somerset Levels. First stop, New Bridgewater, a constructed tourist trap looking the way foreign visitors expect an English Village to look. Mark is not happy about his exile. He is a city boy and the farm is wet, muddy and not on the GRID. He also expects his sojourn there to be short. Eventually, he gives in and joins in the community life, re-acquainting himself with Ashanti, a friend from years back. She, however, is suspicious of him and at first is reluctant to share her secrets, mainly that she has been helping a group of feral children. Gradually, Mark begins to realise that something sinister is going on. The company that has been buying up huge tracts of forest are not doing it to help counter climate change but are using it to hide a darker project.

This book is a good mixture of adventure and important issues. While the action sequences reach straight to the youngster in all of us, it also asks the kind of question that the readers will need to confront when they are old enough to vote, such as how does the world need to do to combat climate change, how prepared are we to deal with the problems and what should be done about the inevitable climate refugees. Just for good measure, there are some corrupt, self-seeking politicians that need to get their comeuppance. Mark and his friends don’t solve all the problems, that would be asking too much, but they do help point the adults in the right direction.

One very likable thing about this book is that the author assumes that his target audience is intelligent and will understand some of the issues involved while enjoying a fast-paced action tale. ‘Forest Of Lies’ deserves its place on the Rubery Award shortlist.

Pauline Morgan

August 2016

(pub: Handprint Publications, Exeter, UK, 2013. 276 page paperback. Price: £13.99. ISBN: 978-0-9927322-0-2)

check out website: http://www.chrisspeyer.com/

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Category: Books, Scifi

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