The Return- a zombie infestation that decimated the world- happened generations ago. Mary has lived her whole life surrounded by the fence that protects the many-greats grandchildren of the original survivors from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The forest is filled with zombies who hunger for human flesh, and every man, woman and child in the village is trained for the horrifying prospect of a breach in the fence. The Sisterhood teaches that the village is the only one of its kind, and that the forest stretches forever, but Mary was raised on family stories of life before The Return- stories of the ocean. She believes that there must be something outside the village, and she longs to find it. When Mary is forced to become a Sister, she begins to learn the terrible secrets of the village, and one night accidentally discovers proof of other humans living beyond the fence. To what lengths will the Sisters go to protect their secrets, and what price will Mary pay to find the world outside the fence?
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an action packed story. The Unconsecrated (the zombies) are terrifying, and the realities of life living surrounded by them are realistically thought out. The characters are well balanced: for example, when the Sisters keep secrets or act in a way that seems immoral, it is also possible to see that, from their perspective, they are trying to protect the villagers. The writing also shows the emotional fragility of people faced with impossible choices and unrelenting horror. Really, this book has it all: petrifying horror, fast-paced battles, enduring romance, and some genuinely sad parts that might make you cry. Once you’re done this one, you’ll also want the companion book The Dead-Tossed Waves.