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Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing but she’s intent on becoming something After years of training to become the ueen’s next royal spy her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend SaengoAnd then Sirscha somehow restores Saengo to lifeUnveiled 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 forDanger 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


10 thoughts on “Forest of Souls

  1. says:

    im a little conflicted with this story while i have a generally positive feeling about it i cant help but think about how it could be better sirscha is this really fierce MC but there is no firsthand account of her trainingthe main relationship is a friendship between sirscha and saengo but they have very few memorable interactionsthere is a vast cast of characters with hints of being them complex individuals but there is no in depth developmentthe world is full of different people and creatures and kingdoms and history but i really couldnt give you an explanation as to how its all built togetherthe plot is fast paced and exciting but there is little time for the reader to really reflect on everything that is happeningso there are a lot of good basic points but i just wanted there is definitely room for improvement which i hope happens as the series progresses ↠ 25 stars


  2. says:

    NetGalley link first line of this book The earth is black with last night's rain a perfect morning for shadowsThematically 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 KingThis 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 shamanismWhen 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 ueens and mentors villains and friends all within a secondary world fantasyI can't wait for you to read it 🕷⚔️🕸Artist artoflore on Instagram


  3. says:

    JUNE FAIRYLOOT We got two books Click link to see the goodieshttpsmelissa413readsalotblogspot45 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 ueen 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 uickly 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


  4. says:

    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 sinister forces are at play than she realizesWhile I unfortunately had 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 uickly 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 endI 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 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 bookSirscha’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 ueen or a soulguide for the Spider King but by the end she learns to be independent and do things for herself and I appreciated thatThe 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 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 LIKEThe 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 happenedThis book is absolutely 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 from the charactersHonestly there was just so much potential with Sirscha that wasn’t tapped into I wish we could have seen 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 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 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 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 subseuent 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 had I been able to immerse myself in itAlso 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 from him or just less dryness from the other characters⇒ CONCLUSIONI’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 flatI think things end on an intriguing cliffhanger so I’m actually cautiously interested in reading the seuel 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 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 deathmurder including loved ones battle violence imprisonment mentions of mutilation loved one with diseaseinfection spidersThank 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 wayAll uotes are taken from an advance copy and may differ in final publication


  5. says:

    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🤣


  6. says:

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


  7. says:

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


  8. says:

    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 meListen 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 supposed to be 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 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 themSaengo 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 itThe 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 convenientI 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 confusedNeedless to say Lori hooked me enough to read the next book because I need to know about the thing that occurs at the end Other than that Forest of Souls sadly wasn’t enjoyable


  9. says:

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


  10. says:

    45 starsForest 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 itPlot 45Characters 455Writing 45The 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 ofNo 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 of an active role in the next book because I really would have liked to see of her in actionI'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 itI 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 of the world in the seuel Overall Forest of Souls was a brilliant YA fantasy novel that is beautiful both inside and outThank 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