counter create hit Forest of Souls - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Forest of Souls

Availability: Ready to download

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 cent 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. 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.


Compare
Ads Banner

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 cent 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. 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.

30 review for Forest of Souls

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    To request an ARC, please send an email with your info to Lauren Cepero at [email protected]treetpublishing.com To request via NetGalley: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/boo... The first line of this book: "The earth is black with last night's rain--a perfect morning for shadows." Thematically, Forest of Souls is about fighting to belong against every effort to push you out. It's about loyalty driven by insecurity and searching for self worth. It's about unconditional female friendship. It's also abo To request an ARC, please send an email with your info to Lauren Cepero at [email protected] To request via NetGalley: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/boo... The first line of this book: "The earth is black with last night's rain--a perfect morning for shadows." Thematically, Forest of Souls is about fighting to belong against every effort to push you out. It's about loyalty driven by insecurity and searching for self worth. It's about unconditional female friendship. It's also about a spy-in-training whose chosen path is upended, landing her under the scrutiny of a Spider King. This isn’t an "Asian fantasy," according to my own definitions (it might be, according to yours, and that's okay). But it is "Asians in fantasy." It’s a mishmash of my favorite western fantasy tropes alongside bits of my own cultural influences and a magical system *inspired* by Hmong shamanism. When I began writing this as a NaNoWriMo ms way back in 2014, I didn't realize then that it would become the sort of book I needed growing up as part of the Asian diaspora. Even as I fell in love with the medieval-ish fantasy genre, I felt painfully excluded from it. So this book features Asian-coded characters being warriors and shamans, queens and mentors, villains and friends, all within a secondary world fantasy. I can't wait for you to read it 🕷⚔️🕸 Artist: artoflore_ (on Instagram)

  2. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    if the girl on this cover came to life and stepped on me... all I’m saying is I would not complain...... —★— Forest of Souls is a YA fantasy filled with culture and magic inspired by Hmong shamanism. It follows Sirscha, whose life is suddenly disrupted after an attack kills her friend Saengo, and Sirscha accidentally brings her back to life. She’s taken under the Spider King and is tasked to attempt to control the Dead Wood, a creepy forest full of the souls of the dead, but more sinister forces a if the girl on this cover came to life and stepped on me... all I’m saying is I would not complain...... —★— Forest of Souls is a YA fantasy filled with culture and magic inspired by Hmong shamanism. It follows Sirscha, whose life is suddenly disrupted after an attack kills her friend Saengo, and Sirscha accidentally brings her back to life. She’s taken under the Spider King and is tasked to attempt to control the Dead Wood, a creepy forest full of the souls of the dead, but more sinister forces are at play than she realizes. While I unfortunately had more negative things to say about this book than positive, I still was able to enjoy it to some extent. I had issues with the actual craft of the story, but there were also some things that were just personally not for me, so they could possibly work for you! ⇒ WHAT I LIKED It is not from the world that I need acknowledgement of my worth. After trudging through the first third of the book, I flew through the rest really quickly! I’m not sure why or how I was able to read so much in so little time, but the writing was simple for me to read and get into (after a rough beginning). There are lots of plot events to keep you on your toes during the middle and end, I really loved that there wasn’t a romance. So many YA fantasies are focused on romance, and while I love reading it, I’d like to see other types of relationships written about as well. This one is definitely more focused on Sirscha’s friendship with Saengo, as well as Sirscha’s own individual journey, and not having a romance was so refreshing. (Especially when there are two male characters, who I feel like would have been a part of a love triangle in any other book!) Sirscha’s story is one of worth, and how we often tie our own self-worth to other people. She thought her value as a person was based on what she could offer as a spy to the queen, or a soulguide for the Spider King, but by the end she learns to be more independent and do things for herself, and I appreciated that. The worldbuilding was interesting to me, and I thought it was decently done! There are a few info-dumpy parts, and I wished certain aspects had been more expanded upon, but there’s a very helpful and descriptive glossary. It draws on Hmong culture, and I loved reading about the inclusion of shamanism and magic. ⇒ WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE The beginning is so slow. I first started reading it a month ago and I read about 100 pages. But I genuinely thought I’d only read 50 pages because it had moved so slowly, and I couldn’t believe that I’d read so much while so little had happened. This book is absolutely more plot-driven than character-driven, meaning that Sirscha didn’t have that much of an active role in the story. As someone who really cares about characters and their arcs, I wasn’t the right audience for a plot-driven book, and I just wanted to see a lot more from the characters. Honestly, there was just so much potential with Sirscha that wasn’t tapped into. I wish we could have seen more of the skills she’d picked up while training to be a spy, or her shamanic soul magic craft. (Her magic was the one thing I didn’t really understand from the worldbuilding.) There were also hints of her being scarily indifferent to killing others or having power over them, and I was so sad that that kind of darkness wasn’t developed more! On top of that, Sirscha “declared” certain things that were supposed to be empowering to support her character growth, and I feel like that’s a kind of common thing in YA that I’ve outgrown. I just personally like my character development to be more subtle, so seeing that kind of mental announcement made her growth feel cheap to me. […] I was afraid. Not for my life. I was afraid of being invisible, a fear I’ve held close from the moment I was old enough to understand that I’d been abandoned with no true name. I said before that I liked that there was no romance, but I wanted to see more from their friendship before Saengo was killed. I didn’t care about their close bond enough to feel something about how their relationship was disrupted by her death and subsequent reviving, so their friendship didn’t have as much of an impact on me. Overall, actually, a lot of the book was built up on little twists or reveals, but they fell flat because they hadn’t been developed, so it was just like “okay cool… why does this matter.” My last complaint is that there was a very “detached” feeling with the book in general. I can’t tell if it’s me who couldn’t connect to Sirscha, or if the writing was at fault and didn’t portray Sirscha’s emotions well, but was frustrating to read because I never felt like I was transported to this world. I feel like I could have enjoyed this book so much more had I been able to immerse myself in it. (Also, I’m going to be real honest: There’s a sassy side character named Theyen and he provided all the entertainment. If only there could have been more from him, or just… less dryness from the other characters.) ⇒ CONCLUSION I’m conflicted on how I should feel about this. Because on one hand, lots of things were just so eh to me that I didn’t care, but on the other hand, I genuinely was interested to see where the story went at one point and flew through the book. But unfortunately overall, this book fell flat. I think things end on an intriguing cliffhanger, so I’m actually, cautiously interested in reading the sequel (especially to see if Sirscha’s character arc becomes darker), if that is any reassurance? This might not be for you if you’re a fan of books that focus more on characters, like me, but if a plot-driven fantasy with captivating worldbuilding and magic sounds up your alley, I’d recommend checking this out. —★— :: rep :: Asian-coded cast :: content warnings :: death/murder (including loved ones), battle violence, imprisonment, mentions of mutilation, loved one with disease/infection, spiders Thank you to Page Street Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way. All quotes are taken from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ♡ ᴅ ʀ ᴇ ᴀ ᴍ ♡

    Why does every book in 2020 seem to have gorgeous cover? This year I think I'm broke already but next year, I bet I'm gonna go bankrupt.🤣

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    JUNE FAIRYLOOT! We got two books. Click link to see the goodies. https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot.... 4.5 Stars Let’s first give credit to another Charlie Bowater cover! I wish she would put out a book of her art so I could buy it! I absolutely love this dedication at the front of the book and the little spider hanging down! I thought this book was awesome and yes, I’m looking forward to the next book! This isn’t a spoiler so don’t get your panties in a wad, you can read it from the summary 😉 S JUNE FAIRYLOOT! We got two books. Click link to see the goodies. https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot.... 4.5 Stars Let’s first give credit to another Charlie Bowater cover! I wish she would put out a book of her art so I could buy it! I absolutely love this dedication at the front of the book and the little spider hanging down! I thought this book was awesome and yes, I’m looking forward to the next book! This isn’t a spoiler so don’t get your panties in a wad, you can read it from the summary 😉 So, Sirscha and Saengo are best friends. They are badass fighters and and they work for the queen so to speak. One day they are going out on a mission with some others but things go horribly wrong. Oh, and everyone rides on these awesome Drakes! From the awesome glossary at the beginning of the book *Drake: Most common species of drakonys, large and sturdy, used as pack animals and for transportation by humans. Anyway, some stuff goes down with these shaman and Saengo is killed. BUT (and still not a spoiler) Sirscha brings her back to life. Apparently seeing your best friend killed can bring your power to life! Turns out Sirscha is a soulguide. *Soulguide: A lightwender who can shepherd souls, guiding them to the afterlife or back to life. There has never been a soulguide in living memory. The only one recorded was the founder of Mirram, who created the spell allowing only shamans to enter. And as the crow flies, Ronan the Spider King hears about Sirscha and she’s summoned to Spinner’s End. And Prince Meilek (sugar plum) and his men escort Sirscha and Saengo there. Some centuries ago, a shaman who would become known as the Soulless rose against the kingdoms. He had the power to kill by ripping out the souls of his enemies. The history books are always vague about what exactly happened, but not even the armies of Thiy could subdue him. He merely claimed their souls for himself, strengthening his power and his madness. Then Ronin descended from the north with a massive spider as his familiar, one of the Spinners of his homeland. No shaman had ever possessed a Spinner as a familiar before. Only the union of two such powerful beings could defeat the Soulless. After the Soulless’s death, the souls he’d claimed scattered, taking root in the trees. Over time, the forest died and became a dangerous place for travelers. For whatever reason, Ronin made his home within the woods, using spidersilk spun from the bond with his Spinner to cloak the restless spirits. Not only that, but he convinced the kingdoms to sign the first and only peace treaty of its kind, one that would ensure peace for centuries to come. And now, after all this time, the Dead Wood has begun to expand far more quickly than in the past, casting Ronin’s power into doubt. And naturally, nothing is what it seems and a bit of chaos ensues! Loved the characters, the atmosphere, and the storyline! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    another book with a spy protagonist that wants to overthrow the system? count me in

  6. 5 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi ♠

    someone yeet me into 2020 so I can land at the feet of this book and its flawless cover someone yeet me into 2020 so I can land at the feet of this book and its flawless cover

  7. 5 out of 5

    A.G. Howard

    Lori Lee has a gift for writing relatable characters and crafting intricate worlds and magic. And that villain ... *shudders* Looking forward to the next book in the series!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Booklover

    (I forgot to thank the publisher for this ARC. Thank you Page Street Kids for sending it to me) Another Charlie cover that I let compel me. I should have known. And yes if Charlie does art for a book I’m gonna try it! Sue me. Listen, I love Charlie’s art. Love it so much that it hypes me up for the books she draws covers for, but the last few that I’ve tried where she was the cover artists, I wasn’t too happy with. This one included. Sirscha wasn’t a heroine who became REAL to me. I learned nothi (I forgot to thank the publisher for this ARC. Thank you Page Street Kids for sending it to me) Another Charlie cover that I let compel me. I should have known. And yes if Charlie does art for a book I’m gonna try it! Sue me. Listen, I love Charlie’s art. Love it so much that it hypes me up for the books she draws covers for, but the last few that I’ve tried where she was the cover artists, I wasn’t too happy with. This one included. Sirscha wasn’t a heroine who became REAL to me. I learned nothing about HER as a person. Her personality was so shallow and surface-level that the only think she thought about was the plot and her friend Saengo. I wanted her to have a sense of presence, I wanted her to exist. I craved the moment when she would feel real to me, but she didn’t. That kept me very detached from novel, and I found myself just reading the words rather than actually soaking in the story. The secondary characters didn’t really aid in this issue. Theyen was the only redeeming entity of this book besides the conclusion—which we will get to. Continuing on though, love a sassy boy with pointed ears, and Theyen was that boy in every way. Unfortunately Lori didn’t utilize him time the best of her ability, because I think he could have been much more involved in the story, and he could have lent a hand to the rest of bland characters with his wit. Meilik and Saengo were also just mediocre. I felt nothing towards them. Saengo is supposed to be this best friend we mourn for, but Lori doesn’t make me care about her death. And she doesn’t paint the necromantic moment that occurs right after that in an exciting enough way to where I was intrigued by it. The magical system fell flat to me. Sirscha barely even tapped into her powers. All but three times with no training or growth to show for it when she used them at the end. There was no struggle, no fight for her strength, it was just there when it needed to be. It was convenient. I wished I understood the plot. I really do. I read some reviews where they said that it was messy and all over the place, sadly I’m inclined to agree. There were about three different things—whether that be goals or events—that were happening and none of them felt like they connected. They were all separate entities and it felt like Lori was trying to messily balance them all, but never weave them together. It’s really sad to have to say I didn’t very much enjoy this book. Not until those last 2 pages when things FINALLY started to click. Finally. And even then I was still confused. Needless to say Lori hooked me enough to read the next book because I need to know more about the thing that occurs at the end. Other than that, Forest of Souls sadly wasn’t enjoyable.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie L (catteabooks)

    I normally don't prefer people on book covers, but she looks like she could kill me so

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Henning

    Enchanting world-building, non-stop action, political intrigue, and dark magic are woven into the silky-yet-fast-paced daydream of a fantasy that is FOREST OF SOULS. Using shadows and light, Lori M. Lee casts the perfect web of unforgettable characters and an intriguing plot—you won’t want to escape.

  11. 4 out of 5

    faith ✨

    all i have to say is . . . charlie bowater is really doing it for us

  12. 5 out of 5

    Umairah | Sereadipity

    4.5 stars Forest of Souls was a magical read about the strength of friendship and developing self worth. It was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I really liked it! Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4.5/5 Writing: 4/5 The main character was Sirscha, a spy-in-training who discovers she is the first soulguide in living memory and the only one capable of restraining the vicious, dangerous Dead Wood. I loved her uncompromising fierceness, skill and strength- she was a force that you definitely woul 4.5 stars Forest of Souls was a magical read about the strength of friendship and developing self worth. It was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I really liked it! Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4.5/5 Writing: 4/5 The main character was Sirscha, a spy-in-training who discovers she is the first soulguide in living memory and the only one capable of restraining the vicious, dangerous Dead Wood. I loved her uncompromising fierceness, skill and strength- she was a force that you definitely would not want to be on the wrong side of! No matter how hard Sirscha trained and how skilled she became most people never saw any value in her because of her low station. This resulted in a fear of never being enough and a desire to be worthy and seek external validation that drove her every action. These fears, of failure and disappointing those around us, are something I think that many people can relate to and it's amazing seeing Sirscha start to realise that her worth isn't tied to what others think of her. Another key aspect of this novel was unconditional friendship. I've never seen a YA fantasy that puts a friendship front and centre instead of a romance and it was a beautiful thing to behold. Saengo was Sirscha's best friend and despite their differences, especially in rank, they were inseparable and would do anything for each other. Through all the trials and tribulations their friendship stood firm where others would have wavered and it gave them the strength to keep fighting for each other. My only wish is that Saengo gets more of an active role in the next book because I really would have liked to see more of her in action. I've always been intrigued by magic systems in books and the system in Forest of Souls was one of the most interesting I've ever seen. The author has said that it was inspired by Hmong shamanism and it had a heavy emphasis on spirits and souls as the source of magic. It also had an elemental aspect with the five Shamanic Callings being fire, water, earth, wind and light. Separate to this there were also the Shadowblessed who could manipulate shadows. I loved how well fleshed out the system was and the fact that spirit familiars were necessary to channel the magic was probably my favourite part of it. I loved the Dead Wood, the chilling forest of souls referenced by the title, as it was so morbid and visceral while also serving as a symbol for how hatred can endure and power can corrupt even the most well intentioned person. A large chunk of the book was spent in the Dead Wood and its surroundings which was great but I hope too see much more of the world in the sequel. Overall, Forest of Souls was a brilliant YA fantasy novel that is beautiful both inside and out. Thank you to Page Street Kids for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Epic and exciting. Don't miss this one!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily (moonlight&moths)

    Rep: Southeast-Asian inspired characters & setting Check out my full review on my blog: https://wp.me/paTyx3-B4 Forest of Souls contains the perfect blend of worldbuilding, unique magic, and incredible characters. YA fantasy really got lucky with an author like Lori writing books within its genre. Everyone go preorder this book NOW. Rep: Southeast-Asian inspired characters & setting Check out my full review on my blog: https://wp.me/paTyx3-B4 Forest of Souls contains the perfect blend of worldbuilding, unique magic, and incredible characters. YA fantasy really got lucky with an author like Lori writing books within its genre. Everyone go preorder this book NOW.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads)

    **NetGalley ARC*" I wanted to like this! The synopsis sounds really cool right? But sadly this didn't really work for me. This book feels very similar to "Truthwitch" with the big fantasy world, two girls that are best friends and the main character having the super rare special power. But with those similarities aside, the only things I liked was the cool world building and the lore with all the shaman powers, their crafts and a couple of the myths that are mentioned. But that's where my positiv **NetGalley ARC*" I wanted to like this! The synopsis sounds really cool right? But sadly this didn't really work for me. This book feels very similar to "Truthwitch" with the big fantasy world, two girls that are best friends and the main character having the super rare special power. But with those similarities aside, the only things I liked was the cool world building and the lore with all the shaman powers, their crafts and a couple of the myths that are mentioned. But that's where my positive thoughts end. Both girl characters are so surface level and so much is told to us of how much they care for each other and Sirscha was another protagonist that makes really stupid decisions! With her having this power, she initially refuses to be taught by a really upright guy... When the lady she's been training under as her apprentice, that lady was just as cruel and made her go through insane trainings. This girl cannot afford to be picky when it comes to learning about using her powers especially when she needs to do it fast. Then at the end she does another stupid thing because she thinks she knows what's going on and just does the thing. If the had learned more about her powers and asked more questions, the ending wouldn't be as frustrating. I'm glad I tried this but it wasn't for me. Another bummer... Review is now up on the blog: https://metalphantasmreads.wordpress....

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alexx

    This book was a great read! It's fast-paced and adventurous which makes it a real page-turner. It also has a fantastic world-building and magic system, and readers will definitely immerse in it! (I mean, y'all it has a glossary!). It features a strong main character determined to make a name for herself and be something more than an orphan. However, the characterization and character development lacked for me. She was so focused on her best friend Saengo (which just led me to think there should h This book was a great read! It's fast-paced and adventurous which makes it a real page-turner. It also has a fantastic world-building and magic system, and readers will definitely immerse in it! (I mean, y'all it has a glossary!). It features a strong main character determined to make a name for herself and be something more than an orphan. However, the characterization and character development lacked for me. She was so focused on her best friend Saengo (which just led me to think there should have been something romantic between them), and although she had a new (and interesting) power, she didn't even use it much throughout the whole book. That said, it's just the first book. The journey will definitely continue on and I would love to see Sirscha's character develop more. There were several twists and turns as well and those were exciting because I didn't see some of them coming. Plus some of the plot twists make the world-building and the history richer and more mysterious, I can't wait to know more about it! Overall, this is a pretty solid book and I'm excited for the sequel! Thank you Page Street Publishing for sending me a finished copy! Find me elsewhere: Blog | Instagram | Twitter

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Wang

    Sirscha Ashwyn is an orphan intent on acquiring prestige and power by becoming the Queen's Shadow, who operates as the Queen's advisor and spy. Sirscha is a soldier in the Queen's Company, which is described as a "military finishing school." She has also already been tapped to train in secret with the current Shadow, raising her hopes that she'll be officially named the Shadow's apprentice any day now. But a routine trip to take criminals to the prison camp goes horribly awry, and her best frien Sirscha Ashwyn is an orphan intent on acquiring prestige and power by becoming the Queen's Shadow, who operates as the Queen's advisor and spy. Sirscha is a soldier in the Queen's Company, which is described as a "military finishing school." She has also already been tapped to train in secret with the current Shadow, raising her hopes that she'll be officially named the Shadow's apprentice any day now. But a routine trip to take criminals to the prison camp goes horribly awry, and her best friend Saengo is fatally wounded during the fight. Or so Sirscha thinks. She awakens to find Saengo very much alive, healed by Sirscha's newfound magical powers. The only problem is that those with magic -- the shamanborn -- are outlawed in her country. There is nowhere to flee except into the Dead Wood, which separates the three kingdoms, and the trees of the Dead Wood are, well, deadly. This is an awesome fantasy, filled with political intrigue, nonstop action, kingdoms on the brink of war, and a very, very, creepy forest. I loved the rich and detailed world building, from the different species of drakonys (large bipedal lizards that you can ride like horses) to the various types of magical abilities, to the forest. OMG, the FOREST. Did I mention it was super creepy, but in the best possible way? There is a dark mystery behind the Dead Wood -- why it kills and why it's spreading -- and only someone with Sirscha's magical powers can figure it out. Sirscha is headstrong, impulsive, and a badass with dual swords, but she's also compassionate towards others and devoted to Saengo. There was some fun verbal jousting with a prince that bordered on flirting, but that's the only romance in the book. Maybe it will develop in the next book, which would be interesting. The only thing I didn't love about this book is that it ends on a cliffhanger, and waiting another year for the next book will be torture... (I received an e-ARC from the author for an honest review.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jules ✨

    look at this!! cover!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽♔

    Ooo I must say a lot of my TBR YA books have been impressing me with their covers lately

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sian

    three words: BIG ASS SPIDER Arc provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review (coming soon)

  21. 4 out of 5

    idil

    I first heard about Forest of Souls when the first chapter and cover was revealed (and what a cover it is!), since then I’ve been eager to read it in its entirety so I was elated when I was sent an eARC. However, I ultimately ended up being on the fence about it. Because even though I loved more than a few elements of the story, after the first half I kind of slogged through it. So I think I’ll list things I enjoyed about Forest of Souls, because I read some 2 and 3-star reviews that really get I first heard about Forest of Souls when the first chapter and cover was revealed (and what a cover it is!), since then I’ve been eager to read it in its entirety so I was elated when I was sent an eARC. However, I ultimately ended up being on the fence about it. Because even though I loved more than a few elements of the story, after the first half I kind of slogged through it. So I think I’ll list things I enjoyed about Forest of Souls, because I read some 2 and 3-star reviews that really get into where this books falls short and explained it better than I can. Here we go: Saengo and Sirscha become close friends at school and Saengo is beside Sirscha’s side in whatever trouble she finds herself in. Later on, they form a much different bond in the form of shaman-familiar when Sirscha accidentally restores Saengo to life using her dormant shaman abilities. I always enjoy meaningful female friendships in books and Forest of Souls carries it to the forefront. However, I did wish Saengo played a more active role as the plot progressed and not just stay in the sidelines. There is no romance in Forest of Souls, although it sets the groundwork for a possible romantic arc in the coming books since it was announced that it will be a trilogy. I think, on top of all the strings the plot was trying to hold together, it would be hard to keep track of a fast-moving romantic subplot so I thought that worked well. I think it would be more compelling if it didn’t attempt to cramp in all the world-building and go into the whole world and focused more on the Dead Wood and Spinner’s End, which I enjoyed much more. I found the section that takes place in Spinner’s End and the Dead Wood really interesting, with the Dead Wood’s restless souls appearing as sinister rotting trees that can coil all over around you. Sirscha as a main character fell sort of flat, which is not a good sign for the secondary characters who were at times also similarly dull, except maybe Theyen who provided some very good one-liners with his dry humor. All in all, I really wish I enjoyed this more. I felt reluctant to write this review because it incorporates all the things I love in a fantasy and in different circumstances it could really succeed in being, but whether it’s because it didn’t deliver on some personal expectations that I didn’t even realize or because I wasn’t in the right mood for it, ultimately it didn’t work. Thank you to Page Street for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    rayne ♥

    I was lucky enough to get an arc for this novel! Can't wait to dive in. Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. instagram | blog | goodreads I was lucky enough to get an arc for this novel! Can't wait to dive in. Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. instagram | blog | goodreads

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This is a big ol' fantasy world that is brand new, terribly unique, and holds just enough horror in the trees to have kept me riveted. And with that ending, how could I not be lying on the floor dying right now? Full review at Write, Read, Repeat Lori M. Lee has crafted an epic and cobweb drenched fantasy with magic, mystery, and a forest I could not get enough. As the author herself said, it's not an Asian fantasy, but rather Asians in fantasy, and I am here for it either way. The world of Thiy i This is a big ol' fantasy world that is brand new, terribly unique, and holds just enough horror in the trees to have kept me riveted. And with that ending, how could I not be lying on the floor dying right now? Full review at Write, Read, Repeat Lori M. Lee has crafted an epic and cobweb drenched fantasy with magic, mystery, and a forest I could not get enough. As the author herself said, it's not an Asian fantasy, but rather Asians in fantasy, and I am here for it either way. The world of Thiy is divided into three empires: the human race (at least as it presents here), the shadow wielders, and the shamans. None of them got on particularly well, and the only thing holding the peace is the hungry and dark forest the separates them. The Spider King holds the Dead Wood together, his magic preventing the souls trapped in the trees from spreading, but his efforts are failing. It is a gruesome forest and some scenes had me cringing in awe at how chilling it is. I did get a little confused by what is what, and I'm certain that that's on me. There's a glossary at the start of my e-arc copy, but trying to absorb it all without context does not work. Sirscha is all I want in my main female characters. Truly. The fierceness that is on that cover is absolutely inside as well. She is possibly about to be picked to be the next spy for the Queen, and she is willing to do whatever it takes to prove herself a worthy apprentice. Stealthy and capable AF, Sirscha fights with swords in some really incredible fight scenes and holds her own well. But a new development in her life is her suddenly having golden eyes, meaning she's not mortal at all, but a shaman. And a soulguide to boot, a craft that has only been seen once in the past at the very start of this world. Much of this book follows Sirscha as she tries to figure out her powers and keep her best friend from dying, all while attempting to destroy the Dead Wood. Even better, she doesn't get sidetracked by love interests. There are two boys--a shadow prince and a mortal prince--in here who are written like they might be something. And perhaps they will be in the sequels. But in this, I concede that I am wired to be trash and kept expecting every interaction to end in an out-of-nowhere kiss. But it never happened, and I'm thrilled. Sirscha uses their help, but not once does she let them dictate how she should move forward. She is wholly focused on her best friend, Saengo. Near inseparable after meeting in school, Sirscha discovers her magic when Saengo dies and she resurrects her. However, there are some unexpected consequences that are still trying to kill Saengo, and Sirscha won't have that. I have no choice but to stan. The plot is well-paced, and towards the end things were getting super interesting, but I couldn't get into this the way I wanted to. For as much as I enjoyed it, I always wanted just a little more. Especially from Sirscha. Her magic, interactions with other characters, her spy skills, and a journey that was a tidier. I also don't think this was the right time of year for me to read this awesome book. As I'm part of the blog tour (which I just learned has been cancelled (?)), I have no choice but to read it now, and this is really a fall read. A book you curl up with under a blanket when it's raining outside and you're inhaling the steam from your hot chocolate. As it is, my attention wandered often, and that's not fair to this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    MRIDULA

    Sirscha Ashwyn, an apprentice training to be the Queen's next best spy finds herself in a delicate situation when she is attacked by a Shamanborn. This is followed by the death of her best friend, later brought back to life by a power Sirscha fails to understand. She travels all the way to the lair of Ronin, the Spider King who has been entrusted to maintain peace within the kingdom of Thiy and to keep in check, The Dead Wood- a forest where souls are trapped for centuries, turning their rage in Sirscha Ashwyn, an apprentice training to be the Queen's next best spy finds herself in a delicate situation when she is attacked by a Shamanborn. This is followed by the death of her best friend, later brought back to life by a power Sirscha fails to understand. She travels all the way to the lair of Ronin, the Spider King who has been entrusted to maintain peace within the kingdom of Thiy and to keep in check, The Dead Wood- a forest where souls are trapped for centuries, turning their rage into hatred and making it impossible to pass the forest without Ronin's protection. . Sirscha is a Soulrender- one who can rip the soul out of a person's body or who can bring them back from the dead. As she learns more about the mysterious power hidden within herself, she also sets in motion a series of events that could be the doom of her beloved home. Lee builds a very delicate world, with complex magic systems taken from the essential elements- light, fire, water, etc.. Sirscha and Sengo's friendship is a treat to read, two people who have each other's back, in life and in death. The story unfolds fluently but there are bits that could have been explained better. The plot, however, is surprisingly good. There are magic, naivety, secrets, and an adventure that will keep you hooked. Interestingly, there is no romantic angle to this story. The entire focus is on the plot and the characters which are a welcoming change from most fantasies we come across. 'Forest of Souls' is thrilling, engaging, and whimsical. A fast-paced fantasy that is perfect for the fans of Naomi Novik.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Full review at the bottom :) 2nd read: 22nd February 2020 🥺🥺 I forgot just how much I loved this world and the characters. I'm so so encapsulated by this story, it owns a very special place in my heart 🥰 1st read: 19th December 2019 Oh.... My.... God!!! I mean, the first thing I have to say about this book is LOOK AT THAT COVER!! Stunning, my baby Sirscha 😍 Okay so, I'm no reviewer or anything but my thoughts : Firstly, Sirscha is SUCH a good MC. She's strong willed, kind, compassionate and a total bad Full review at the bottom :) 2nd read: 22nd February 2020 🥺🥺 I forgot just how much I loved this world and the characters. I'm so so encapsulated by this story, it owns a very special place in my heart 🥰 1st read: 19th December 2019 Oh.... My.... God!!! I mean, the first thing I have to say about this book is LOOK AT THAT COVER!! Stunning, my baby Sirscha 😍 Okay so, I'm no reviewer or anything but my thoughts : Firstly, Sirscha is SUCH a good MC. She's strong willed, kind, compassionate and a total bad ass. Her love that she shows towards certain characters is so heartwarming The setting and world building of this book is beautiful! The glossary at the front really helps as it was a bit confusing at first but I had that to refer back to :) Also, the 2 (?) potential love interests are both so cute! I was pining for both, but that ending has solidified my hopes for book 2! Anyways, as a rough conclusion, Lori's writing is stunning, and this book is full of such an incredible, magical, lowkey horror, inspiring story. You must read it! And now I'm off to cry about that ending and wait for the next book 😭😭 oh, and also collect every edition ever made of this story 🥰 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. Have you ever just felt so connected to a book, even before you’ve read it, so much so that you already know it will be a new favourite? That’s exactly how I felt with Forest of Souls, from the moment I discovered it, I had been yelling about the cover and how amazing it sounded, so when Sasha told me she’d managed to get her hands on it and wanted me to have it, I literally cried. This book is PHENOMENAL. There is no other way I can describe it. Lori M Lee creates such a luxurious, encapsulating world, so vivid that if I had the artistic skills, I could draw it from memory. This book is dark, spooky, captivating and unforgettable. Our main character, Sirscha, is such a badass lead to this book. She’s a nobody, and the people around her are not about to let her forget that any time soon; but her determination to become the queen’s shadow keeps her going and pushing through. I love Sirscha’s resilient, stubborn and powerful nature, she’s so strong and fierce that you instantly fall in love with her. When Sirscha discovers new information that she thinks will give her a better chance at becoming the queen’s personal spy, she takes off from a mission with her best friend Saengo, but it ends up with Saengo dead after a shaman attack. When Sirscha restores Saengo to life, she sets off a ripple of powerful magic that is felt by shamans everywhere. But shamans are outlaws in Thiy and imprisoned by the queen, so when the Spider King, the enforcer of peace between the kingdoms, she has to go. We witness Sirscha and Saengo go through a tough journey together, one where they learn lots about each other, and themselves. Sirscha and Saengo’s friendship is so beautiful. I love a platonic f/f friendship with 2 strong, independent women and that exactly what their friendship is; yet they’re also each other’s confidant and only people they feel that can open up to. The world building and imagery in this book is so vivid and beautiful. I love reading about Asian characters and settings, and while this book is not set in an Asian-inspired setting, rather in a Western-medieval fantasy setting, Sirscha and many of the other characters are Asian themselves and I love the contrast that it creates. The horror elements in this book are incorporated so well and it’s something I hadn’t really read before. I loved how there was an underlying theme of creepiness throughout the book; it made the whole book more intense and enticing. The magic system in this book is also so unique, and I cannot wait to see more of it develop in book 2! The dead wood was one of my favourite aspects of this book; it’s creepy, dark and utterly thrilling to read about. The dead wood is controlled by the Spider King, who keeps it so that the souls living inside it don’t escape, however people have been whispering about it expanding and the possibility that the Spider King is losing his control over it. So when he announces that Sirscha, untrained and only newly aware of her powers, as the only living soulguide in living history, is to be the one to restrain the souls, she’s astounded. Sirscha is confused, horrified and scared about the revelation that she is a shaman, even more so that she may be one of the most powerful to live; so she focuses all of her feelings into being able to control her powers so that she can save Saengo. This story is jam-packed with action, political intrigue and deadly magic. Everything about this book draws you in and tangles you in a web that you cannot escape, forcing you to continue reading and find out where the story is going. The plot is fast paced and filled with rich world building and incredibly complex characters that you’re sure to not forget any time soon. I read this book in December of 2019 and then again in February 2020 and have not stopped screaming about it since; it’s definitely one you’ll be adding to your favourites list!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Bennett

    As a most anticipated read I was so excited for to finally have my hands on it early! I screamed when opening it because dang, that cover is everything! The thing is, this is an interesting read for various reasons but I was just expecting there to be a moment that would send me to the next level in my emotions but it just never came to fruition. Sirscha is a girl that has come from nothing. She was orphaned and raise to be a soldier but even with gaining some rank, there are those who want to se As a most anticipated read I was so excited for to finally have my hands on it early! I screamed when opening it because dang, that cover is everything! The thing is, this is an interesting read for various reasons but I was just expecting there to be a moment that would send me to the next level in my emotions but it just never came to fruition. Sirscha is a girl that has come from nothing. She was orphaned and raise to be a soldier but even with gaining some rank, there are those who want to see her stay beneath them. I am always a fan of the underdog trope. It makes for great character development. I also like that Sirscha feels real. Her choices aren’t always the best and sometimes she does before she thinks. I’m curious to see how her development will continue in the next book. Sirscha has a wonderful friend, Saengo. There is a lot that happens between them but it also pulls them closer together. I am always here for a great friendship! I can see how they could be compared to Safiya and Iseult because just like them, Sirscha and Saengo are more than just friends. The other characters weren’t as memorable for me. I feel like the two males that could potentially cause a love triangle (maybe?) will have more to do in book two with the plot. I am hoping so because their development just lacked a bit for me but I did enjoy what I read so far about them. As for the plot, I’m glad that it centers around friendship and not romance. Sometimes the romance can make or break it but there is just something about a bond where the friends are more like sisters. There are definitely some twists that I wasn’t expecting and I’m curious to see how it will all play out. My only two complaints when it came to the plot was the pacing and just feeling like I needed more. It was hard to fully immerse myself in the beginning because it is pretty slow during the first 100+ pages. Whenever something did happen, I was waiting for that spark or, in music terms, that drop where it would just take me to that next level. The world building is cool and I love the magic system. There is a awesome glossary in the front of the book that helps explain the kingdoms and what the different magics are. It was very helpful. Overall, it’s a good YA Fantasy with an interesting setting and magic system but I’m hoping that the sequel will give me that next level I am looking for. Thank you to the publisher for giving me a copy to review! All opinions are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leelynn (Sometimes Leelynn Reads) ❤

    Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Hear Our Voices Book Tours, Netgalley, and Page Street Kids for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication. Clearly I am completely full of emotions all around because this book really just had me feeling all kinds of things. This is the first Lori M. Lee novel that I had the pleasure of reading – I Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Hear Our Voices Book Tours, Netgalley, and Page Street Kids for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication. Clearly I am completely full of emotions all around because this book really just had me feeling all kinds of things. This is the first Lori M. Lee novel that I had the pleasure of reading – I did end up buying her first duology because I had been wanting to read it for a while now – and I am so glad to see that she is one of my newest favorite authors! We start this novel with Sirscha trying to secure her position as the official apprentice to the current Queen’s Shadow, Kendara. The position of Shadow acts as the Queen’s spy and assassin, someone who does not have to abide by any sort of rules or regulations except from the Queen herself. Any kind of information the Queen needs to know, the Shadow will get it by any means necessary. Some of the tasks that Kendara has Sirscha do… well even if they don’t always have an end goal, they always have some sort of lesson involved. In hindsight, it may have given Sirscha the edge to handle everything that she had to endure in her life during the events of this novel. One of the tasks that Kendara has Sirscha do is enlist in the Queen’s Company (think of it as a royal army), which leads her and her best friend Saengo on the adventure of their lives. Not only are there shamans involved and the world as they know it may wind up in a war between the surrounding empires, but the Dead Wood – home to countless souls that seems to be growing without provocation – is determined to be more than they bargained for, and Ronin, the Dead Wood’s Spider King is shrouded in mystery for our two best friends. The distinctions of the shamanic crafts that Lee created was really unique, and including her glossary in the front of the book really helped me keep track of all of the ones that weren’t as easy to remember. Having five main shamanic crafts rather than just the four main elements was really interesting, and the fifth one is the most interesting and most intriguing if I do say so myself. The worldbuilding is absolutely stellar, and I was so enamored with everything in this novel that I’m pretty sure I forgot about my real life duties for a while there. I know a book is going to be amazing when that happens, and Lee did not disappoint whatsoever. The dynamic between Sirscha and Saengo definitely changed after *the incident* and I really like how Lee explored that in this novel. I could only imagine how Sirscha must have felt harboring that much guilt for something that she didn’t realize that she did but couldn’t change, not to mention Saengo having to deal with the unexpected consequences that she didn’t ask for in the first place. If they weren’t close before, they were bonded for life now, and the kind of relationship that they had to have in order to stay alive and protect one another was flushed out really well. I could feel the angst between the two girls in the beginning after they had to come to terms with what happened, and I could feel them trying to pull the pieces back together to make it seem like things were back to normal, even if they couldn’t be. Lee mentioned in an interview that sometimes friendships can be stronger than other kinds of relationships, and the friendship between Sirscha and Saengo really defined their survival and strength in this novel. I almost felt like in a way, they were almost like soulmates. I don’t think soulmates always have to be romantic – I feel like my best friend is my soulmate – and my relationship with my best friend is reminiscent of Sircha and Saengo… well without the life or death situation. It was a beautiful friendship and felt so real, and it was just wonderful to read about. The politics in this world were also interesting, and I like that there were moments where Sirscha’s narration would give some background on what happened in the past for the benefit of the reader. It made me feel more up to speed on what was happening, and why certain situations were the way they were. Of course, she wasn’t omniscient, so she didn’t know everything, but at least knowing everything that she knew helped to be informed and see things from her perspective. I really enjoyed seeing this world through Sirscha’s eyes – oh her beautiful, beautiful eyes – and watching her grow from a potential spy and assassin to something else entirely. Her interactions with Ronin (The Spider King) and Theyen were great as well, and I like that there was no unnecessary romance that didn’t come out of nowhere or seemed to move too fast or anything like that. I also liked how Sirscha described Theyen as insufferable to his face because he was being a know-it-all. Long story short – since this review is super long! – and as you can tell, I really loved this book, and I am absolutely dying to read the sequel. I imagine that Lee is going to blow it out of the water yet again, and I am officially a huge fan. I look forward to reading everything that Lee has to offer, both past, present and future.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie Steele

    Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. The Highlights: —  Best example of "Tropes aren't bad!" —  No romance, and it's done well —  The writing is SO good —  Sticks the landing with a cliffhanger I could swoon over I've been struggling with YA fantasy a lot lately. So many of the books I've read in the genre in the last couple years have just fallen flat for me. For Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. The Highlights: —  Best example of "Tropes aren't bad!" —  No romance, and it's done well —  The writing is SO good —  Sticks the landing with a cliffhanger I could swoon over I've been struggling with YA fantasy a lot lately. So many of the books I've read in the genre in the last couple years have just fallen flat for me. Forest of Souls reminded me why I fell in love with the genre in the first place. I could feel it pretty much immediately when I started reading, I just knew this was a book I was going to love, and I so did. There are constantly comments online picking at tropes. They're overused, they're just not good, on and on to the point that it seems as though a lot of tropes are viewed as a bad thing. That's just not true though, and Forest of Souls is the perfect example of why. Tropes can be so good, when they're done right. When they have a fresh spin on them. From the headstrong female protagonist who's training to be an assassin to the hints at a 'chosen one', there are aspects of this book that we've all seen before. But they're done in such a unique way, giving this story it's own life. I never felt like I was reading a different version of the same story I've read countless times. I felt like I was reading a new story that played on things that have made me love so many other stories, and that made the whole reading experience so delightful. One thing that really surprised me in Forest of Souls is the lack of a romance subplot. It's actually pretty unusual for me to like a book with little to no romance, because I'm all about a good love story. But this book didn't even make me blink in that regard. The story was so good, the characters so compelling on their own, that it didn't need romance. And I think this is something that will recommend it to a lot of readers who are tired of reading those sorts of stories. And don't let the lack of romance hold you back, like I said, this story is strong on its own without it (and that's coming from someone who has disliked other books for the same reason). The writing here is fantastic. I feel like I've been missing out because this is the first book I've read by Lori M. Lee. The characters are dynamic, unique personalities. The plot is at once familiar and surprising, settling the reader into a sense of security before ripping the rug out with a twist. I was never bored while reading, instead I found myself more and more excited to continue all the way through to the end. And that end! Look, I've had some cliffhanger issues lately, and all I can say is THAT is how you do a good cliffhanger. I absolutely loved Forest of Souls. It was everything I want in a YA fantasy book, with a few extra things I didn't even know I wanted. Perfect for fans of the Grishaverse books or There Will Come A Darkness, this is a book that I'll definitely be pushing into the hands of my fantasy-loving friends. I can't give it high enough praise or recommend it enough, and I'll be counting down the days til the sequel is released. For More Bookish Content: Blog || Twitter || Facebook || Bloglovin'

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)

    The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do not affect the opinion or content of the review. I don't know how I feel about Lori M. Lee's latest novel. Forest of Souls is the first novel in the Shamanborn series, and most of the book is driving the plot and story rather than developing character and world-building. There are quite a few holes, and while there is world-buildin The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do not affect the opinion or content of the review. I don't know how I feel about Lori M. Lee's latest novel. Forest of Souls is the first novel in the Shamanborn series, and most of the book is driving the plot and story rather than developing character and world-building. There are quite a few holes, and while there is world-building, I mostly felt I was speculating based on vague information. (If life experience has taught me anything, that never ends well, but maybe it's my luck.) I found the shamans and their different powers interesting, though, and I have a burning curiosity to find out what happens next in the sequel when it's released. Some parts of the world were also atmospheric, like the Dark Wood; it was creepy, and Lee made me feel like I did not want to find myself in there all alone. Please keep that place away from me - I want no part; god forbid I end up in there all alone with no food. Personally, I enjoyed the friendship between Sirscha and Saengo. The other characters, though... Sirscha and Saengo have a close bond well before Sirscha accidentally restores her best friend to life, which I loved to see throughout the book as they try to navigate the challenges. I especially liked Prince Theyen, who, out of all the characters in the book, was the most enjoyable to read with his sassy remarks and comebacks when interacting with Sirscha. (I don't know about anyone else, but I secretly hope his sass will continue in the next book.) The other characters, however, just feels... flat? I would have loved to see some more exploration between Sirscha's established relationship (friendship? acquaintance?) with Prince Meleik, and her developing friendship with Theyen. Based on the first book itself, I feel like I've either missed something or there needed to be more context because I didn't care all too much. Maybe my opinion will change in future novels, but as of right now, I'm not exactly warming up with the characters. Another thing that bothers me is we don't get to meet Kendara, and it's evident throughout the novel she's played an essential part in Sirscha's life, especially as a mentor. We just know of her based on what's told to us from Sirscha's experience, and there were quite a few opportunities in Forest of Souls that were missed. However, I do think Kendara plays a far more important role in subsequent novels, so it's a possibility we'll get more showing than telling or even better, meeting her on the page. Forest of Souls is relatively slow-paced. This is more than likely a personal preference, but I felt the book was slow for most of the novel, and then it only started picking up in the last 30-40%. It's a very good possibility this was the case for me because Forest of Souls isn't a character or world-driven novel, and others will feel differently based on their reading preferences. Despite that, I did enjoy the story and am interested in potentially picking up the sequel when it comes out, but it's not a definite favorite. This review was originally posted on Bookwyrming Thoughts.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessi (Novel Heartbeat)

    DNF @ 50% After spending nearly a month trying to get into this one and fighting with myself over picking it back up, I've decided it's time to let go. Which makes me SUPER bummed, because it was one of my most anticipated 2020 releases!! I wanted so badly to love this one, but I made it 200 pages in and I was still struggling hardcore and feeling really apathetic toward it. It started off really strong - I was enjoying the writing, and super intrigued by the world. I felt for what Sirscha was DNF @ 50% After spending nearly a month trying to get into this one and fighting with myself over picking it back up, I've decided it's time to let go. Which makes me SUPER bummed, because it was one of my most anticipated 2020 releases!! I wanted so badly to love this one, but I made it 200 pages in and I was still struggling hardcore and feeling really apathetic toward it. It started off really strong - I was enjoying the writing, and super intrigued by the world. I felt for what Sirscha was going through, too. But somewhere along the line, that interest just...stopped. I started to get annoyed by little things. To be honest, most of it could have been solved by just reading the synopsis. But I like to go in blind! I was shocked when Saengo, the best friend, died. And I liked that! I love when an author doesn't spare their characters. However, shortly after, Saengo was brought back to life. (This is all in the synopsis, which I clearly didn't remember lmao!) And that really bugged me!! I hate that fantasy always brings its dead back to life, so you can never trust when someone does die because they're more than likely not going to stay dead. And that robs me of feeling, because I don't believe it. This is such a pet peeve for me in fantasy, as much as I love the genre. So, I was already annoyed that she came back to life in the first place. There was all this talk of familiars - a spirit in the form of an animal, bonded to the shaman, that connects them to their magic - and I was SUPER excited for this aspect! I love the idea so much! BUT, (view spoiler)[Saengo becomes Sirscha's freakin' familiar. I don't know what this bummed me out so much. It's actually pretty cool to have a human as a familiar, and was an interesting little twist (although one I figured out pretty easily, considering it kept getting repeated that a shaman NEEDS a familiar to do magic), but I guess I had just hyped myself up so much to the idea of an animal familiar, that I just ended up being disappointed that it was only a human soul and not an animal. (hide spoiler)] Whomp whomp. THEN, as if I wasn't annoyed enough, we get the Chosen One trope. (Again, this is basically all in the synopsis.) As soon as they mentioned that soulguides were super rare and there's only ever been one in history, I was like, Welp, she's going to be one of those. And her golden eyes on the cover were kind of spoilery to that aspect, if you prefer to NOT read the synopsis and go in and be surprised. I also guessed as soon as she mentioned she had scars on her ear that she was actually Highborn as well and had her ears cut (they have pointy ears). I found that reveal kind of cliche. Actually, the whole rest of the story felt pretty generic. I was interested in the drakonys (basically bipedal dragons used as horses), but I had trouble picturing them, and they weren't that prominent in the story anyway. The magic system was interesting, but overall I didn't feel like the story added anything to the fantasy genre. It didn't feel unique to me, and doesn't have anything super special enough to stand out in the sea of high fantasy that I've already read before. Nobody is more disappointed than I am. I might still continue, eventually. I don't want to not like it, and I'm intrigued about Ronin the Spider King, so I may try again at a later time, just for him. Who knows. This review was originally posted on Novel Heartbeat. To see a breakdown of my assessment, please visit the full review here.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.