Book #34

The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman

A coming-of-age story that pierces the soul and heals the spirit, this is the tale of the future leader of the Amazon women warriors. Rain must hold fast to her inner warrior, but she is startled and mystified by the first stirrings of mercy towards the enemy.

This was loaned to me by a friend, and I really didn’t think I was going to like it. The blurb on her particular edition puts heavy emphasis on horses; quite frankly I think you’re either a horse girl, or you’re not a horse girl - wonderful readers, I am not a horse girl. In actual fact, this story is about strong women (who happen to ride horses), and strong women are really something I can get behind. Note to self: do not doubt friend’s taste in books again.

Rain is a girl warrior, daughter to the queen and born after a vicious attack on her mother. For this reason, the queen cannot look at her for fear of seeing nothing but sorrow. Rain feels an outsider in her community of women, yet cannot see her own strength, and continues to struggle on for her mother’s acceptance; she’s reminded she is the product of fifty men, and so has more power than the others, but this does not solve her feelings of otherness. 

Throughout the pages we see Rain learn and grow, become stronger, more defiant, and more sure of her place. She makes mistakes and learns from them, and most importantly of all learns the futility of trying to be something you’re not.

Despite Rain’s excellent journey and growth, I’d have liked some more depth or growth to the other characters, and for a little bit more to happen. Melek, Deborah, and even the queen herself had so much more to give, and could have bolstered the story wonderfully. I’d also have enjoyed some social commentary on how the women live. I did, however, appreciate the introduction of a homosexual relationship, and felt this was artfully done.

The prose is effective in its simplicity, and gives us trust in Rain’s voice. Despite the short, modest sentences, there is some real beauty here in Hoffman’s descriptions, particularly those depicting the scenery and animals. 

Seeing, and being part of, this powerful tribe was nothing short of captivating. Hoffman unleashes a true feeling of power and intensity in this short novel. As a story targeted towards the young adult audience, it holds an important message of resilience, and of accepting who you are.