This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using that link, a small commission is made from the sale. There are no additional costs to you. Thank you for your support!The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin
Published by Inkshares on July 16, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do not affect the opinion or content of the review.
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 most holy 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.
So when I sat down to write my review for The Phantom Forest, all I wanted to write is this:
- Protect this character
- Seriously, protect this character
- Take them away from Liz Kerin; it’s the only way to protect them
But uh, that doesn’t work as a review (maybe one day). Anyways.
The Phantom Forest is haunting.
Kerin’s debut is creepy, everyone. The world here is atmospheric and brings a chill or two, even when the story isn’t in the Underworld. In a world ruled by the Coalition where one practicing their belief in gods or superstition results in death, General Simeon overlooks a village with tight control. He keeps the people under his authority by taking a religious ritual where only criminals are sacrifices to one where anyone can be chosen.
I wanted General Simeon to choke on sharp pineapples while reading.
Since her father died, Seycia lives in hiding with her younger brother Miko in the village. It’s not long before General Simeon makes her a target and she becomes the next village sacrifice, sending her to the Underworld where she joins forces with Haben.
Interesting Characters Arcs
I find myself most invested in Haben’s story and wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to Seycia and him as they journey across the Underworld. While The Phantom Forest has a multitude of POVs, most are from Seycia, Haben and Miko.
The story seems to focus on one character with the others sitting in the backseat, undergoing the most development. However, I do feel this is only the beginning, and there is more to come for both Seycia and Miko. Their story seems to stand in the back of the room, but they’ll likely develop in future books. I want to see what Kerin has in store even if I only want to protect Haben.
There are slow moments in The Phantom Forest
Kerin builds a world and plot that captures my attention from early in the novel. However, there are moments where I felt the scenes were maybe irrelevant and unnecessary. While it was a rough patch to go through, it was well worth it. I wanted to see to the end of the story, and I had a lot of questions that won my curiosity. By the end of The Phantom Forest, I still have plenty of questions, but I’m sure there will be answers eventually.