JohnDesu Reviews

In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss


In the Forest of Forgetting showcases such stories as “The Rose in Twelve Petals,” “The Rapid Advance of Sorrow,” “Lily, With Clouds,” “In the Forest of Forgetting,” “Sleeping With Bears” and many more, with an introduction by Terri Windling and cover by Virginia Lee.


A great collection of (quite) short stories by Theodora Goss. They mostly fall into a category I’d call fantasy, but some are more closely related to fairy tales. I’ll go over each story briefly.

The Rose in Twelve Petals

A broken-up retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I’m not super familiar with the original tale, but this story is set in Medieval Europe and told in twelve parts.

Professor Berkowitz Stands on the Threshold

A professor and a French poet meet at a place-between-the-worlds (of life and death perhaps?), and offered a choice. I’m still not too sure about this story or why the professor ultimately made the choice that he did.

The Rapid Advance of Sorrow

Very surreal piece of writing about having a relationship with a revolutionary. This was actually the first piece of Goss’s writing that I read and what originally made me seek out this collection of stories. Beautiful, poetic, well-paced.

Lily, With Clouds

Two sisters who have not seen each other in a long time. One has cancer and is dying so they are brought back together one last time. Mostly just a conversation, relatively effective, but without any closure.

Miss Emily Gray

Emily Gray is introduced here. She is a governess who grants children’s wishes, generally at a terrible price. This story didn’t do much for me.

In The Forest of Forgetting

This story is the namesake for the collection, and is an allegory about a woman dying of cancer. Way too obvious to be effective for me. Probably the weakest story of the collection in fact.

Sleeping With Bears

An allegory which compares men to bears. Pretty humorous.

Letters From Budapest

This story stands out as one of my favorites. It is a dark Hungarian story about an undead artist that steals the talent of young male artists, leaving them in an alive, but untalented state.

The Wings of Meister Wilhelm

A great story with a lot to say about the tragedy of European anti-semitism. We follow a young girl, her violin instructor and his dream to visit a city in the clouds, even if it means his death. Another one of my favorites.


Emily Gray returns, this time helping a young boy who is being slowly poisoned by his family.

A Statement in the Case

This may be my favorite story in the collection. Not a whole ton happens, but the pace and descriptions really kept me interested in the story. A witness is questioned about the possible arson of a pharmacy. He realizes what he thought he saw may not actually have been what happened.

Death Comes for Ervina

An old ballerina; a visit from an old lover. Not for me.

The Belt

A fairy tale about a belt which may be a metaphor for one or many morals to this story.

Pip and the Fairies

A very light and fun story. As a child, Pip was the subject of some stories written by her mother that gained some success and have turned Pip into a bit of celebrity as an adult. Revisiting her past has caused her to wonder if the stories she told her mother (and her mother wrote about) were true or just her imagination as a child.

Lessons with Miss Gray

The final story in the collection and another Emily Gray story. Three girls are offered lessons by Miss Gray in witchcraft. They become obsessed with it. Some interesting events occur.


In the Forest of Forgetting is a fantastic collection of short stories sure to please readers of all types. While not every story was a home run for me, the ones that stood out to me were excellent indeed.

My favorites stories (in no particular order): - Pip and the Fairies - A Statement in the Case - Letters from Budapest - The Wings of Meister Wilhelm

I look forward to reading Theodora Goss again in the future. She has a poetry collection Songs for Ophelia coming out soon, which you can find out more about at her website.

Rating - A-