I grew up in New Mexico, one of the driest places in the United States. There are trees there, of course, but they’re few and far between. Green is a rare and precious color there, which is why I loved my abuelo’s farm so much. But nothing is more magical to me than a forest. When I was three years old, my grandparents took me to the West Coast to visit relatives, including a stop in Oregon. All I remember is trees. Lots of tall, cool, amazing trees. I was both delighted and awed, and that feeling has never left me.

Think about every fairy tale you’ve read that included a deep, dark forest, or a path through the woods that you must never stray from. It’s a theme that pops up over and over, from Little Red Riding Hood to Peter and the Wolf, Hansel and Gretel to Lord of the Rings. In countless cultures around the world, the forest is a scary, amazing, mystical place.

In A WITCH’S KITCHEN, the Enchanted Forest Realm is the source of all those myths and fables. For most of human history, the Enchanted Forest Realm was just a sideways step away from Earth. Take the wrong path, go widdershins around the wrong tree, and you could end up in a land where fairies, trolls, unicorns, and dragons are all very real, and these creatures could also wander through into our world.

But then, about five hundred years ago, humanity began turning away from magic and toward logic. As this movement grew, it drastically altered the flow of magic through all the realms. All the great wizards, witches, sorcerers, and mages across all the realms met to discuss this alarming turn of events, and they decided to separate Earth from the other Realms, removing all magic from it in the process. This enormous undertaking was called the Great Sundering, and thereafter our world was called the Logical Realm.

In the Enchanted Forest Realm, magic remains and flourishes, forming the basis of life for nearly everything. There, humans are a small minority next to elves, dwarves, goblins, trolls, pixies, fairies, brownies, gnomes, fauns, centaurs, griffins, unicorns, dragons, and many, many other races. Even the trees are intelligent, the gossip-mongers of the Forest. Each race largely governs themselves, but the Enchanted Forest Council, made up of representatives from each intelligent race, mediates disputes between races, such as the recent Elf-Gnome War, and also handles problems that affect all of the Enchanted Forest Realm, such as inter-Realm travel.

The Enchanted Forest Realm is directly connected by portals to many other realms, such as Atlantis, Vanaheim, The Celestial Kingdom, and many others, as well as the Logical Realm. Most portals are readily accessible and used fairly frequently, but the portal to the Logical Realm is heavily guarded because many of the people in the Enchanted Forest cannot survive without magic and so must be prevented from wandering into the Logical Realm.