Forest of Souls book review


Han Nelson, Editor-in-Chief

Forest of Souls is a Young Adult fantasy novel by author Lori M. Lee. Protagonist Sirscha Ashwyn grew up in a disadvantageous position in her childhood. After spending four years training to become the queen’s next spy, her plans are derailed when she and her best friend and Noble heiress Saengo are attacked by Shamen. Sirscha ends up pulled into national conflicts, where one wrong decision could lead to war between the three races of Thiy.

Spoiler-Free Section


If you are a diehard fantasy fan or really like young adult novels, I would suggest giving Forest of Souls a read. Don’t expect to be blown away by the plot, but the world-building is phenomenal. Overall, I would give Forest of Souls a 6.7 out of 10.

Han’s Thoughts (Spoiler Section)

World building

The world in which Forest of Souls takes place is definitely the strongest part of the novel. Lee immerses the reader in the fantasy world with lore so deep that there is a glossary at the front of the book with information about important Terms and People. The use of elemental magic and magical abilities isn’t overly unique, but is very well executed. The most interesting part of the universe to me is the social structure. While it has elements of Medieval European kingdoms, the mix of the different races and magical abilities and class structure stands out to me. The oppression of different races becomes more intriguing when the races have unique abilities and strengths. The numerous unique customs of the different races of Thiy furthers the immersion, making the world feel lived in, rather than a vessel for the plot to occur in.


The plot of Forest of Souls is the weakest part of the story. Not that the plot is horrible, just cliche and predictable. While I have no issues with the use of some cliches, the plot is full of them, and the story has nothing original to add on top of it. The predictability of the plot isn’t too bad, but multiple times it felt like the author was going for a shock reveal that fell flat because the of the overly predictable nature of the story. It is an extremely basic Young Adult plot, not overtly awful, but definitely not inspiring or unique.


The ending of the story is only an ending in name. The few plot points that are resolved have fine resolutions, but the author left the vast majority of plot points unresolved, to be answered in the sequel. While this is to be expected in a trilogy, the volume of unresolved plot points left me feeling unsatisfied when I read the last page.


By the time we spot the red shingles of the teahouse’s roof, the day has almost ended. A crescent moon hangs low, a silver scythe to cut away the light. The teahouse is a small two-story building with dark columns and a dramatically curved roof ending in splayed talons at each corner.

On a technical level, Forest of Souls is done well despite suboptimal choices made by the author. The only reason the story wasn’t technically amazing was the decisions to make the novel in first person and in present tense. Third person past tense is standard in narratives for a reason, it is almost always the best way to tell a story. Other than that, the technical level of the story is almost perfect, and a high point for the novel.


The characters in Forest of Souls are interesting and well developed, with one notable exception. Ronin’s motivations for his actions are explained, but not explained convincingly. As the main antagonist of the story, Ronin’s motivations are important, and the lack of sufficient motivation significantly lowered my opinion of Lee’s characterization skills in Forest of Souls. The other characters are decent enough, but most aren’t unique, with the exceptions of Kendara and Saengo.


Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments what you think of Forest of Souls.