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Philomella and the Impossible Forest

A were-dragon? A talking tree? Saving a world she didn’t know existed? … Philomella’s having an unusual day.  Mystery, humour and sparkling magic combine in this middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel – perfect for fans of  The World Between Blinks and The Phantom Tollbooth .

When Philomella is drawn into the Impossible Forest – a place where anything can happen and usually does – she’s headed for all the adventure she never wanted. There’s a belligerent princess to rescue, trolls to battle and a treacherously bewitching river to cross … and that’s just for starters. They’re all part of a mysterious enemy’s grand plan to destroy both the Forest  and Philomella – and in this world of strange and dangerous magic, she’ll have to beat her deadly opponent using only her brains.

And so, joined by some oddball companions (including a picnic basket with attitude, a boy whose ancestors were trees and a grandmother with weaponised kitchenware), Philomella sets out to do the impossible.  

Can Philomella save the Forest? 
And can she also learn how to save herself?

Published by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, NSW Australia, 2023.

Preorder the book from Booktopia

Launch of Philomella and the Impossible Forest at Readings book store St Kilda on 7th May 2023


The book’s middle-grade audience will love the relatable Philomella … who is exactly the hero we need right now. … Doris Brett’s background in clinical psychology is evident in this emotionally intelligent book with lessons on forgiveness and self-worth … There’s a sense of hope and playfulness in the world Brett has created that is needed now more than ever. …Philomella acts as a timely reminder not to underestimate kindness in the face of danger, and the importance of looking beneath the surface of those around us.

Bec Kavanagh – Books + Publishing

Brett’s ability to craft a rich and immersive narrative shine throughout the book. …  What makes Philomella and the Impossible Forest truly remarkable is its ability to resonate with readers of all ages. While younger readers will be captivated by the magical elements and Philomella’s thrilling escapades, older readers will appreciate the underlying themes of personal growth and the pursuit of dreams. The book’s universal messages of hope, resilience, and the boundless power of imagina tion make it a timeless treasure for readers of any age….  Doris Brett’s Philomella and the Impossible Forest is a heart felt and captivating chapter book that will transport readers into a world of magic, courage, and self-discovery. Through its enchanting storytelling, richly imagined settings, and memora ble characters, the book leaves a lasting impression on readers of all ages….  It is a book that will ignite the imagination, touch the heart, and remind us all of the limitless possibilities that reside with in us.

Magpies Magazine – Michelle Nye 

Philomella, who considers herself an ordinary girl, finds herself inextricably linked to the Impossible Forest and the evil that seeks to conquer it. And despite her insistence that she is no one special, the Forest – and its inhabitants – seem to think otherwise. Philomella must defeat her enemy using her greatest weapons: her compassion and her brain. 

Brett leaves no question that this story will be a fast-paced adventure; Philomella finds herself dragged into a magical world within the first few pages of the novel, and the story doesn’t slow down. I loved the glimpses we got of Philomella’s ‘real’ life interspersed throughout the story – Brett uses Philomella’s internal conflicts to enhance the magical ones she faces, and vice-versa. The lessons never feel heavy-handed, and readers will find themselves engrossed and captivated with Philomella and her friends. It’s empathy, kindness, and compassion that make Philomella (and this story) memorable and special.

Readings Bookstore – Jennifer Fraioli

This is an uplifting, ingenious middle-grade fantasy adventure with beautifully integrated life lessons that I highly recommend!… This story’s charm kept me smiling the whole time. It’s a beautifully crafted quest journey that combines whimsical magic with lessons for personal growth. 

A lot of imagination has gone into building this intriguing world, where usually inanimate objects have feelings. I was blown away by the inventiveness on every page—picture a cloak throwing a tantrum, singing cutlery, and willow trees tired of being typecast as weeping. 

Critiques? Only that I wanted more of everything. More of the affectionate cloak, the mysterious Lady’s brother, Bill the talking dog, and contrary Rapunzel and her defiant reactance.  

I can only hope there are more adventures ahead for Philomella, because I loved it from start to finish.


…such a fun read!…. This book has it all, mystery, the humour is too good to pass up, and just absolutely beautiful characters and the way it was written, sends magic to you! … I absolutely adored it! 


This Middle Grade fantasy novel is a delightful exploration of what it is to be yourself and how to let go of anger and to forgive.

Georgina Gye Reviews

Philomella is the hero we need right now. … The author is a clinical psychologist, and you can see that in some of the gentle themes in the book about the importance of creativity and empathy in the face of difficult situations …  I thought I was getting a light-hearted MG book but what I got was ~3 hours of free therapy. …. throw this book at a child in your life (just not literally, lol) or treat yourself if you need a kind, gentle story in your life…..  I adored it! It’s just the kind of warm hug of a book we need more of these days!


This is a terrific story where the fantastic and magical adventure faced by our main character, Philomella, teaches her the importance of bravery and facing your fears. With an amazing array of wonderful characters including trolls, talking dogs, half trees/half humans, as well as a river that is out to steal your memories, Philomella must face many perils with only her brain as a weapon…  With themes of doing your best, facing your fears and using your talents, this is a brilliant novel for 10 to 14 year old readers.

Rob De Koning, Lamont Books (Book of the Month)

The book brings to mind the same feeling that I got when I read Enid Blyton in my youth – that classic fantasy feeling that makes me feel like I want to curl up in a chair by a fire with a hot chocolate and fall deep into this special world….I really love the countless little vignettes woven throughout, all of them sharing wisdom with kids who may be dealing with some of these situations in their own lives…. Topics such as how to deal with a divorce, standing up for themselves and finding their voice, realising that weapons aren’t just swords and daggers, or learning that bad memories shape us as much as the good ones are all things that kids could really benefit from, and even some of us adults could do with a refresher.