Forest of Souls (Shamanborn, #1)
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.

Forest of Souls (Shamanborn, #1) Details

TitleForest of Souls (Shamanborn, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 23rd, 2020
PublisherPage Street Kids
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Young Adult Fantasy

Forest of Souls (Shamanborn, #1) Review

  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    To request an ARC, please send an email with your info to Lauren Cepero at [email protected] 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] 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)
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  • ♡ ᴅ ʀ ᴇ ᴀ ᴍ ♡
    January 1, 1970
    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.🤣
  • ♠ TABI ♠
    January 1, 1970
    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
  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    another book with a spy protagonist that wants to overthrow the system? count me in
  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    if the girl on this cover came to life and stepped on me... all I’m saying is I would not complain......
  • A.G. Howard
    January 1, 1970
    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!
  • Victoria Booklover
    January 1, 1970
    (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.
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  • Stephanie L (catteabooks)
    January 1, 1970
    I normally don't prefer people on book covers, but she looks like she could kill me so
  • Sarah Henning
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • faith ✨
    January 1, 1970
    all i have to say is . . . charlie bowater is really doing it for us
  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Epic and exciting. Don't miss this one!
  • Alexx
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a great read! Fast-paced, adventurous, has a fantastic worldbuilding plus several twists and turns. I have a lot more thoughts, but those are gonna have to wait. Full review will be posted soon as part of Forest of Souls Blog Tour hosted by The FFBC. Find me elsewhere: Blog | Instagram | Twitter This book was a great read! Fast-paced, adventurous, has a fantastic worldbuilding plus several twists and turns. I have a lot more thoughts, but those are gonna have to wait. Full review will be posted soon as part of Forest of Souls Blog Tour hosted by The FFBC. Find me elsewhere: Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Emily (moonlight&moths)
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads)
    January 1, 1970
    **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....
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  • Andrea Wang
    January 1, 1970
    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.)
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  • Jules ✨
    January 1, 1970
    look at this!! cover!!
  • Cindy ✩☽♔
    January 1, 1970
    Ooo I must say a lot of my TBR YA books have been impressing me with their covers lately
  • Sian
    January 1, 1970
    three words: BIG ASS SPIDERArc provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review (coming soon)
  • rayne ♥
    January 1, 1970
    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
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    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 2019Oh.... 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 2019Oh.... 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!
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  • Joanna Bennett
    January 1, 1970
    Review to Come.Still trying to process all my feelings!
  • idil
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Shealea
    January 1, 1970
    * I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.🌻 Pre-order links: Amazon | Book Depository🌻 My links: Blog | Instagram | Twitter * I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.🌻 Pre-order links: Amazon | Book Depository🌻 My links: Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    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, RepeatLori 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, RepeatLori 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.
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  • Chia (sincerelychia)
    January 1, 1970
    I will like to thank the publisher for sending me an advance reader copy, I was really excited upon receiving a copy and to be reading a book written by a Hmong woman. And you guys, the cover is so beautiful!Forest of Souls tells the tales of Sirscha Ashwyn, an orphan who is currently enrolled in a military school called “The Company.” But what she really wants to do is be the next Queen of Evewyn’s Shadow. Sirscha is currently competing to be the Queen’s shadow – Kendera’s apprentice. The Queen I will like to thank the publisher for sending me an advance reader copy, I was really excited upon receiving a copy and to be reading a book written by a Hmong woman. And you guys, the cover is so beautiful!Forest of Souls tells the tales of Sirscha Ashwyn, an orphan who is currently enrolled in a military school called “The Company.” But what she really wants to do is be the next Queen of Evewyn’s Shadow. Sirscha is currently competing to be the Queen’s shadow – Kendera’s apprentice. The Queen’s shadow is basically a spy and an assassin. In the Queen’s Company, being an orphan, Sirscha obviously gets bully by the more privileged kids. There’s always a bully, and his name is Jonyah Thao. And I was laughing so hard about this part because my husband is a part of the Thao clan, so I explained to my husband how this Thao guy in the book I’m currently reading is a bully and obviously do not know how to treat a lady right. *wink wink* This Jonyah guy is a complete ass to Sirscha. And don’t worry, you do not have to worry that he’s going to be a potential romantic interest. Thank goodness. Sometimes the hate to love interest trope is fun, but not really when they’re a bully to the protagonist. Anyways the Queen’s Company leaves for a mission and while Sirscha and Jonyah are spatting at each other, she finds a letter on Jonyah from Kendera. The letter basically ask Jonyah to go on a spying mission, Sirscha is devastated to find that Jonyah is one of Kendera’s pupil and that he can potentially steal her chance of being Kendera’s apprentice, so she go as well. So she’s goes on this secret mission and leaves the Queen’s Company, and of course this meeting was obviously not what she expected. Shit goes down. More shit goes down, and more shit goes down. Sirscha finds out she’s a Shamanborn, a Lightrender. And it’s like… now what? So Shamanborns have powers. There are multiple types of Shamanborn that control different things; there’s Eartwender, Firewender, Lightwender, Soulrender, Waterwender, and Windwender. Hopefully, I didn’t miss anything else. Sirscha is then summoned by the Spider King who lives beyond the Dead Wood, the Spider King hopes that she will be to help him control the Dead Wood with Lightwender magic. Anyways there are some sinister things going on in the Dead Wood and Sirscha gets caught between secrets and I guess you will just have to read it yourself to find out what happens.I enjoyed this book, it moved really quickly, but I feel like it was almost too quick. It needed to slow down a little bit so we can get some more details on a lot of things that are going on and see some character developments. If you enjoy fantasy, women that don’t put up with shit, this is the book for you. If you enjoy Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series, you will definitely enjoy this. I said give this book a chance, I feel like the next book will just get better.Some things I’ll like to point out - -Sirscha friendship with Saengo, it’s the type of friendship everyone deserves.-There’s no romantic plot or whatever going on. I mean who even have time for that when you’re trying to save the world.- I like Sirscha, but I feel like we still do not know her that well- The sash they wear something around their pant reminds me of Hmong clothings -The sticky rice wrap in banana leaves, you guys! It’s something I love to eat!- I will like to learn more about the Sanctuary of the Sisters, I hope the author will go more into it in the next book or so-More insights on the other characters: Ronin, Theyen, Prince Meilek, Queen Meilyr, and Kendera. I know these characters are complex and I wish we got to see more of that instead of just the surface.-I hope we get to see more of the other empires -I wish there was a map, it was hard to visualize where the characters were geographically
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  • ax
    January 1, 1970
    asian fantasy with shamanism??? spider king?? sign me the fuck up((also the author's short story in a thousand beginnings and endings was fucking amazing))
  • emilee ☾ ( readwithemilee )
    January 1, 1970
    2.3 or 2.5/5 stars I'm sad to say that this book didn't captivate me as much as I wished it would. This was a review that I procrastinated HEAVILY on because I was disappointed that I couldn't enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped diving in. ( Partially because of the stunning cover, I must admit. Charlie Bowater always manages to blow me away with his artwork. Now, this is in no shape or form me saying I disliked the author, I understand that this is her debut. The reason why this fell flat to m 2.3 or 2.5/5 stars I'm sad to say that this book didn't captivate me as much as I wished it would. This was a review that I procrastinated HEAVILY on because I was disappointed that I couldn't enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped diving in. ( Partially because of the stunning cover, I must admit. Charlie Bowater always manages to blow me away with his artwork. Now, this is in no shape or form me saying I disliked the author, I understand that this is her debut. The reason why this fell flat to me was mostly because of the characters and the plot. The basic rundown of the story: The book follows Sirscha, an orphan girl who is enrolled in a training school to (hopefully) become the Queen's Shadow. Which is essentially a spy for the queen. And for this role, you guessed it, she needs to compete for the role of Kendra's apprentice. Because she's an orphan she gets bullied by these rich people, later she reads a letter that wasn't addressed to her. Turns out her bully is a student of Kendra and is assigned to go on a "secret" spy mission. Siracha is horrified that her bully could possibly beat her for the role of the Queen's Shadow and decides to tag along. (Secretly of course.) And oh no! Things ACTUALLY go wrong! Who would've thought! *cough cough* Then she finds out she's Shanaborn and a Lightrender. *face palm* Now to explain this, there are basically renders of each element. Soul, Light, Fire, Water, Wind, Earth. (Each with "render" attached to their ends) Then the Spider King is like "oh yo, I need your help bc you're a lightrender" and of course she listens. Then there are some secrets that she gets trapped in, because the Dark Wood is oh so dark and scary. Let's start with the characters. I personally felt that Sirscha was SO DRY. I felt that she wasn't relatable, and her personality was so superficial. Her mind never really wandered away from Saengo or the plot. I couldn't find myself actually rooting for her, or the other characters which eventually made me not only distant to the characters, but also the book itself. This also goes for the secondary characters, I honestly wouldn't care if they poofed mid-way through the book. ( Except for Theyen, he was a KING through and through. The carried the cast of this novel. Who doesn't love an energetic character who's sass levels shoot through the roof? *wipes a tear* Too bad he was rarely shown through the book. )I- the whole intrigue in the synopsis revolved around her best friend Saengo dying, but is it bad to say that I really couldn't care less about his death? Yeah, his character was kind of bland. Now, let's chat about the Magic system. I feel like she had so much potential to really delve deeper into the magic, and the story behind it. I didn't really get a sense of understanding or awe. Sirshca really only used her powers, what, a few times at the most. Isn't the whole plot basically about how she uses her Lightrending skills to solve the chaos in the Dark Forest? Maybe there's some explanation, but it wasn't explained in the book. There wasn't any development in the magic at all, no struggles or conflict that comes with wielding magic. It seems almost too easy for Sirshca to minimally use her powers and somehow have nothing go wrong? There were literally no rules in this magic, which is so unrealistic because why is it that only Sirshca is so powerful if the magic comes without practice? The world was so shallowly discussed that I feel like it was a lack of opportunity to build on the intrigue of this magic, politics, this "evil" and why it is a problem. Instead, there are sloppy answers that are so simple and take away from the depth of the world. The plot was messy to me. I wish it was more strung together, and it wasn't just scattered in little shards. I really don't want to have to search for little pieces of the plot just to forget again. I only really understood the plot at the end. Notes:-Dragons were also a part of this world apparently? There was barely any descriptions other than its color, and that they wear a saddle. Only later do we discover its a bipedal dragon, that's literally the only detail about them.-I- it seems that the characters have found a way to teleport because the time they take to travel across this gigantic land seems way too short to be taken realistically. -There wasn't really much conversation. Many times throughout the book, the author would state she had these conversations without actually showing the dialogue. -The cliff-hanger was the only redeeming part of the book, I mean, it's intriguing for sure. -The Sanctuary of the Sisters seems interesting, I wonder if it will be covered in the next few books. -Why did this book take me so long to write a review on? LMAO
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  • Annie (Putt)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an eARC from Netgalley for my honest review.I DNFed at 34%, approximately page 136.This book reads like a rough draft. I really wanted to like it. The premise was promising and sounded like it would be a darker ya fantasy with some political intrigue and interesting magic, but it’s just bad.The world building is sloppy. Politics are handled clumsily and situations broken down into simplistic reasons. It’s explained in the beginning of the story that the shamanborn suddenly became oppr I received an eARC from Netgalley for my honest review.I DNFed at 34%, approximately page 136.This book reads like a rough draft. I really wanted to like it. The premise was promising and sounded like it would be a darker ya fantasy with some political intrigue and interesting magic, but it’s just bad.The world building is sloppy. Politics are handled clumsily and situations broken down into simplistic reasons. It’s explained in the beginning of the story that the shamanborn suddenly became oppressed because one accidentally killed the previous king, queen, and others while also killing himself, unless it’s revealed later on to be different, this was said to be a complete mistake with the shamanborn losing control of their magic. And because of this, the princess who ascends the throne decides to enslave and execute an entire people group. There’s no explanation given as to why this happened or how other than “thus sayeth the Queen.” There’s no talk of riots or people standing up against this injustice. It just happens and everyone is OK with it for some reason.There are dragon-like creatures in this story and they are described—and I wish I was kidding when I say this—by their scale color and the fact that they wear saddles. Are they winged or ground-dwellin? Bipedal or not? No explanation is given for at least 50 more pages where it is casually hinted that they are bipedal. Up until this point, all you know is that the main character’s dragon-beast is green and has a saddle on its back.Travel time is a joke. There’s no sense of a grand world or land mass. Characters travel across cities and through whole areas in seemingly hours where I would assume the trip actually takes a few days.The magic system has no rules. There are no explanations given as to how anything works or why. It’s simply is, and it has the feeling of a Sarah J Maas or DragonBall Z power level—the main character is special and will somehow get stronger and stronger to defeat whatever villain is the big bad. I’m all for the Chosen one and having overpowered main characters, but the power creep needs to be realistic and subtle, not all at once.There’s also this bizarre habit where the main character continues to get out in situations where she interacts with people waaaaaaaay above her station, and the other person acts like it’s the most normal thing to casually chat about state secrets and political powers to a mere foot soldier in training.Things are constantly being told to us. Conversations the main character has with others are simply summarized to us without us getting to see the conversation happen, but yet immediately after this little summary, the characters restate the entire conversation and add nothing more to it. It’s repetitive and pointless, feeling more like a waste of space than anything else.Again, I really wanted to like this. It sounded really cool and like a fun read, but this is so poorly executed that I cannot continue reading this without getting angrier at the writing and poor plot.
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  • Jakob
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review.Rating 4.5/5 Fans of Truthwitch, Shadow and Bone, and the 'The Puppetmaster' episode of ATLA would enjoy. Forest of Souls was a superb read. I thoroughly enjoyed my time while reading this. What stood out most was the magic system and the world building. I think when books ground themselves within the four elements and the subsequent dark/ light elements, that it bodes well for the magic system. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review.Rating 4.5/5 Fans of Truthwitch, Shadow and Bone, and the 'The Puppetmaster' episode of ATLA would enjoy. Forest of Souls was a superb read. I thoroughly enjoyed my time while reading this. What stood out most was the magic system and the world building. I think when books ground themselves within the four elements and the subsequent dark/ light elements, that it bodes well for the magic system. It's simple and effective at the time. Along with this, when the main character - who is great - discovers their power it doesn't become their main shtick. I enjoyed the realistic nature of the characters power usage and their reliance on their swordsmanship. It made sense.The main character, Sirscha, has a mysterious past and I'm very much looking forward to getting more development from that in the sequels. There wasn't so much characterisation of her throughout the book, but for what we got I found myself enthralled by her - mainly because of her actions and her growth over the course of the novel. The side characters were quite enjoyable to read as well, specifically Theyen was a treasure.Another feature I enjoyed, was the unclear, and also vast amount of villains in the story. Who is the villain? Who is the antagonist? Is it one character? Or is it another? That energy kept me intrigued to find out where the story would end up.At some points the pacing was a little off, but for the most part it was solid. Overall, Forest of Souls was a joy of a read and would love everyone to have it in their hands.
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  • Rebeca
    January 1, 1970
    I received an early copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Forest of Souls is a story that I just simply adored 😍It was dark and twisty in a way that once I started reading I couldn’t stop.Forest of Souls follows the story of Sirscha who has been trained by Kendara, the queen’s shadow, in secret. All Sirscha wants to accomplish is to become the queen’s shadow and finally be able to prove to everyone what she’s capable of and for that, she needs to become Kendara’s oficial pupil I received an early copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Forest of Souls is a story that I just simply adored 😍It was dark and twisty in a way that once I started reading I couldn’t stop.Forest of Souls follows the story of Sirscha who has been trained by Kendara, the queen’s shadow, in secret. All Sirscha wants to accomplish is to become the queen’s shadow and finally be able to prove to everyone what she’s capable of and for that, she needs to become Kendara’s oficial pupil. But things change the moment Sirscha brings Saengo, her childhood best friend, back to life...Sirscha is a brave character who has been through a lot. There were times when Sirscha struggled to believe in herself and I just couldn’t help but feel bad about it. She eventually proves to all those around her (including herself) what she’s capable of😎And now The Dead Woods... those woods gave me the chills, okay?!😱 They were one of my favorite things to read about in the book. Lori’s descriptions made me feel like I was actually right there, walking through the scary woods where souls were trapped in.The cast of characters was amazing, I’ve got to say Theyen was one of my favorites as well as Prince Meilek; I hope we get to read more about them in the next book! The ending was... perfect. I really can’t wait to read the second book in the series; I know it’s going to be amazing!
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