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Treasure Forest: Book One of The Forest Inside Trilogy    by Cat Bordhi order for
Treasure Forest
by Cat Bordhi
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2006 (2003)

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*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Cat Bordhi's Treasure Forest, the first book in The Forest Inside trilogy, is very different from any fantasy I have ever read. While it is about strong-willed children taking on a kind of quest, it focuses very much on nature. Much of the magic is really just the children being in tune with their natural surroundings.

When Ben and Sara's Grandma Daphne dies, she leaves her house in the middle of the woods to her daughter, who has no desire to ever go back to the house she grew up in - for yet-unknown psychological reasons. However, she is convinced by her children to give the house a try after they receive notes and gifts from their grandmother that can only be understood in the mysterious forest. Once settled into the house, Ben and Sara meet many interesting characters, such as a gruff hermit who makes the forest his home and a detective in a wheelchair who is assisted by his three-legged bloodhound. They also discover hidden areas in both house and woods that eventually help them solve their grandmother's riddles - as they grow to appreciate namasté, or bringing nature into their souls through meditation.

It is rather difficult to understand what namasté is, other than that it is to do with spirituality and nature. While some of the great young adult fantasies - such as the classic Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis - are extremely allegorical, the symbolism is usually based on a religious belief familiar to readers. As Bordhi tried to bring forward the idea of namasté, she left this reader confused. Those already familiar with the concept might enjoy Treasure Forest much more than I did. While the characters and the setting were interesting, I just did not fully get the underlying theme.

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