Forest of Souls is a lush fantasy that delivers tons of intrigue united by friendship. It has a slow build up of character and world building to an explosive ending. Keep reading my book review so you can find out how one of my most anticipated reads matched my expectations!
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
As someone who is pretty afraid of spiders, I was wary going into Forest of Souls. But I survived and, even more so, loved reading it! Forest of Souls is all about atmosphere, extensive world building, and great characters. There’s something eerie about the world, especially as Sirscha finds out more and more about it. Even though there’s a slower build to the action, you can’t help but savor this intensely moody lead up. Packed with detail, suspense, and spiderwebs, I couldn’t stop reading!
I was never sure where Forest of Souls would go, but the ending was a roller coaster! What ended up keeping my attention, besides fantastic world building – which is so essential for me in fantasy novels – were the characters. Sirscha so desperately wants to be something – to be someone. This drive, this ambition mixed with tenderness and vulnerability, was so relatable and endearing to me. She’s driven by her desire for being someone more than who she thinks she is, but also by her friendship with Saengo. When we are so driven, what are we willing to risk or lose for our goals?
Throughout Forest of Souls Sirscha has to discover her powers and re-navigate her relationship with Saengo. It’s a book that centers friendship as well as uncovering secrets. Towards the middle to end, I was constantly wondering what would happen. What secrets would be uncovered next, and what Sirscha could do to try to keep the peace. We are asked what is the nature of sacrifice. What will we give up, compromise, or offer, for what we want, what we think our future demands?