On the shores of Sunken Forest, Claudia Taylor
September 7, 2020
Matt Smith is a misunderstood 13-year-old boy who is often found in the wrong place at the wrong time. After helping an old woman take out her recycling bin, things go horribly wrong and once more he is found at the scene of the crime.
It seemed like he was caught red-handed, but could one of his badly made friends have something to do with the robbery? This misaccusation was something that was bound to happen, but what follows is as unpredictable as the weather.
Matt’s father is in jail, so his Principal didn’t think people could trust him around other people’s possessions. Even though he denied guilt! The Principal decides that the best thing to do is to join one of the other year 8 classes, with their unbelievably unfair and strict teacher Mr Klink, on their camp to Lake Waikaremoana. Matt is to be sent to the isolated camp, on the shores of the Sunken Forest, where there is no signal, and no hope, so far…
On the way to the Sunken Forest camp, Matt meets a girl, Azura. She is a strange type, but the right person to make friends with for the upcoming events.
When they reach the camp, life is hard. Although being on K.P. (Kitchen Preparation) almost every night as punishment, having a free behind the scenes tour of the main cogs in the camp system isn’t all that bad. But there are better things he wants to do. Exploring the Sunken Forest means finding another friend: one smarter than most humans. Her name is Elsa. But Elsa is not safe! Cameron, who is one of the badly made friends that ruined Matt’s life, without him suspecting him, argued with a fisherman, when they were having lunch on the way to camp. Cameron is determined to catch and kill Elsa, no matter what! Matt must try and protect her with his life. It is not as easy as it sounds. Matt ends up on the wrong side of the bully and no doubt he means payback!
Learning about the area really interests Matt. But someone has been changing the track markers around, which leads Matt and Azura to a dangerous life or death situation involving a cliff. After a stunning, yet rousing save, Matt thinks it’s all over. But he’s still suspicious about who’s actually led them into this pickle. He thinks it’s a good idea to tell Klink, but Azura disagrees. Telling Klink could earn him more K.P. but Matt doesn’t listen, which was partly why he was blamed. One of the other reasons was that, quite aggravatingly, he had been caught red-handed, it seemed, at the scene of the crime, once more.
More things happen, making Cameron hated by one more person. Matt and his friends make a plan to get Cameron into as much trouble as they possibly can, but this person wants more than just mere justice. This person wants revenge.
This book has qualities of making the reader writhe with anger and crawl under their covers and suck their thumb, waiting to see when the tension will be broken. It raises awareness about how giant, rarely seen creatures can bring out the vicious side of humans. The side that makes them have power over all things. The side that can do harm to all creatures, including their own kind. The side that will be the death of all animals on earth, one day.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has an unusual connection to this book: a bond between characters. In both books, the main characters suffer greatly from misaccusation. Though these are both very different scenarios, both characters, if having met each other, would have been able to share their troubles and would probably make quite good friends. If you have read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, then I assure you, this book will touch your heart. And for those who have already read this book, recommend Sunken Forest to as many people as you can.
- Claudia Taylor is an 11-year-old reader from Sacred Heart Girls’ College in New Plymouth.