Title: Forest of Souls (Shamanborn #1)
Author: Lori M. Lee
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Publisher: PageStreet YA
Thank you to the publisher for giving me a copy to review. All opinions are my own.
“Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.
Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.
And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.
Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.” (Goodreads)
Edit: Just finished my reread of it as I get ready to start the sequel. I tried the audiobook at first but it was rather dull and I lost interest in reading it so I went back to physically reading my copy. I would say my opinion is still the same although I may have liked it just a tad bit more.
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.