Hey there everyone,
I’m back with another review! This time it’s a book that was sent to me by the lovely author and publishing company, in exchange for an honest review. I’m unfortunately a little late with this review, so please bear with me!
Name: The Phantom Forest
Author: Liz Kerin
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
Publishing Company: Inkshares
Publishing Date: July 16, 2019
Blurb: Every tree in the sacred Forest of Laida houses a soul. Though each of those souls will return to the mortal world for many future lives, not all of them deserve to.
Seycia’s father told her this story as a child — a story of the holiest place in the Underworld, The Forest of Laida, where all souls go to rest before embarking on a new life. But Seycia’s father is dead now, and his killer has put a target on her back.
After being chosen for her village’s human sacrifice ritual, Seycia is transported to the Underworld and must join forces with Haben, the demon to whom she was sacrificed, to protect the family she left behind from beyond the grave. In this story of love, survival, and what it means to be human, Seycia and Haben discover that the Underworld is riddled with secrets that can only be unlocked through complete trust and devotion, not only to their mission but also to one another.
Warning – spoilers ahead!!
‘We do not know what will change the rhythm of the universe. We only know that it is coming.’
Thoughts: Whilst the book was a very thrilling read, I wanted there to be a little bit… more. It felt like something was missing. The world was intriguing, the plot moves smoothly enough, and the characters were interesting too, especially Haden and Miles; but I wanted more. I wanted there to be more struggle, more angst… just, more. At times, the pacing felt off and things changed super quickly with not enough build-up. The world-building also fell a little short, as there was a lot happening and a lot that needed to be understood over a short amount of time, so some things felt like they didn’t deliver.
There were some aspects of the book and characters that I really loved, though. Seycia was a bad-ass main character from start to finish. I love how she never backs down, even when the odds are stacked against her. Her loyalty towards her family, and her never-ending resilience and bravery are inspiring, and whilst she didn’t change that much throughout the story, she did get stronger, and used that strength to help others, even when the risks were great. Haben was also an interesting character to get to know. I enjoyed his development the most. He started off as a tormented demon, forced to consume the sacrificed, and ended as a free man. Miles was also interesting to get to know, but I didn’t end up liking him towards the end. The worldbuilding was interesting and it drew me in very quickly. I enjoyed reading about their history and how the religion of the people and the control of the army were linked – it was so well thought-out and came together really well; it just lacked a bit of a punch. It didn’t move me as much as I wanted it to.
And one of the main villains, General Simeon; I wanted to see more of him (he died way too quickly, but I was so happy when he did), but I felt like his motives weren’t the most consistent, so he wasn’t always understandable. He was fleshed out enough, but what exactly was the arrangement between him and the god Dohv? Why is he so scared of the Emperor? And what caused him to be so cruel in the first place? I wanted to know!
The romance between Haden and Seycia also felt rushed. I mean, I get the tension, and the enemies-to-lovers trope, with Haden’s backstory leading to the kiss, but claiming to be in love with Seycia after so little time felt like too much from Haden’s side. Seycia’s feelings were much more realistic, even though they were very intense.
I don’t know, I guess I was just expecting more, all in all. This does not mean that I didn’t enjoy it, though! And I will definitely be picking up the sequel too.
If you’ve read it before, what do you think?
Written by: Alexia DeBono
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