The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Book Review

Another day, another zombie thriller. Today we will be talking about the novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and why it is highly regarded as one of the best zombie novels. See why you should read this critically-acclaimed zombie novel!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Summary

Mary lives in a town surrounded by zombies. They are fenced off and the villagers are safe. But it is also a prison. Mary can’t leave and see the ocean that her mother has told her many stories about. But when Mary’s mother is bitten by a zombie, life in the town changes drastically for Mary.

When someone gets bitten in the village, their loved ones can choose to end their suffering or let them live as a zombie in the forest of hands and teeth. Mary chooses to let her mother be a zombie and join their father who may also be a zombie.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth book cover
The Forest of Hands and Teeth book summary

Mary’s brother Jed is not happy with her choice to let their mother become a zombie and he sends her to join the Sisterhood. They run the village and use their influence to determine how everyone should live. As Mary struggles to fit in, her future is upon her.

When Travis, the guy Mary is in love with, is administered to the church to be tended to, Mary helps him recover. But he is to wed Mary’s best friend in a few months. Can they break the bonds of the town and see the ocean or will their lives be forever dictated by the Sisterhood and zombies?


When it was first released in the U.S., The Forest of Hands and Teeth was well received. It was called “one of the best books of the year” by The Observer. Publishers Weekly described the novel as “fresh and riveting.”

I enjoyed the novel and the fresh take on the zombie tropes. A novel that I thought about when reading this was Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. In that novel, zombies are shown sympathy and there is a sense of understanding. That is similar to a certain extent in this novel and chnages the zombie and survivor dynamic. 

One thing that is unique about the zombies is that they have really good smell in this novel. They will smell humans from miles away. So even if a zombie doesn’t see you, it knows you are there. That makes zombies much scarier considering they are treated as dumb as soon as you get out of their line of vision. 

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If you like zombies and also want a romance novel, then this is a great read for you. Not your typical zombie novel which is why it was highly acclaimed. There are two more novels in this trilogy so let me know if you want me to read them as well or move on to another zombie novel. 

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7 thoughts on “The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Book Review

    1. Ahaqir says:

      It’s different from your normal zombie novel and has great writing and character development. It does feel repetitive at times but it doesn’t hinder the novel


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