Title: Forest of Souls
Author: Lori M. Lee
Format: ebook ARC
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Release Date: June 23 2020
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.
Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.
And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.
Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for. from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out-of-this-world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke singing about some mystery girl on their podcast and she really, really wishes it was her?
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Page Street Kids. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
Fantasy books and me have been struggling so far this year, but this book was certainly an immersive read that had me scrambling for breath with the hefty amount of intense action and adventure.
📌 on plot
Fantasy lovers are going to love this one – it’s one big whoosh of non-stop fantasy action. You’re thrown into a world of non-stop plots and turns in the story. I enjoyed its fast pace, and many of the plots were intriguing. However, sometimes, for me, if there is so many plots, it almost creates a bit of a lull for me that I get overwhelmed by so many plots and things going on? That’s definitely a me thing, but I was impressed with a lot of the plots that were involved.
📌 on characters
The characters are pretty good and also perhaps where I struggled the most. I feel like they had a lot of great characteristics to them, but I just never fully connected. Our main heroine, Sirscha, is brave, ambitious, and a true fighter – both mentally and emotionally. She has faced many adversities growing up, and she has used them to give her strength. She’s a perfect fantasy heroine, and she’s easy to root for.
However, I still found myself a bit removed from her as I couldn’t quite dig deeper. I wanted a little bit more of emotional connection between me and her, and I never got it. Again, the other characters were intriguing, but I lacked the connection that I needed to fully get me to invest in this dynamic cast. They perhaps just fit too much into the fantasy tropes and characters that I have seen before, that I was looking for just something else?
📌 on writing
Lee certainly is meant to be a fantasy writer – her world building was so unique and intriguing. There are so many little intricacies that she added to the world. I was completely and utterly immersed in the Dead Wood. I thought it was wholly enchanting (in a weird Tim Burton kind of way). I wanted all of the scenes to be in there, and the Spider King’s court was so fascinating. I thought she did a wonderful job setting the mood and atmosphere.
Lee also has a great writing style. It’s super easy to read, and it goes fairly quickly. It’s an easy book to get in the zone and just start going.
The one issue with the writing is that I would have liked a bit more of an introduction to the world before we really got the story going. There’s a glossary that begins the story, and to me, the writing depended a lot on having read all of the terms. I had expected that some of the terms would be explained and expanded on within the actual text, but I didn’t find out some things until later on. I was confused on some things for a while, and I always suck at flipping back to glossaries and such to actually help myself out – I’m definitely my own worse reading enemy sometimes. I also felt that the shaman-born were explained a little too after the fact of something happening that it kind of just felt like it was thrown in there.
This was a pretty good read that many high fantasy lovers will be enchanted with. However, as a casual reader of high fantasy books, I found myself wanting a bit more of a connection for this one to really enjoy thoroughly.
rating: Belle because while I enjoyed being a guest in this book, it could have been better
representation: since it’s a fantasy world, it’s not clear on what ethnicity
content warnings: death
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!