February 26, 2024

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Book Reviews, And Author Interviews

*Updated With Answered Questions* In Which Case Becky And I Have Our First Difference Of Opinion- Forest Of Souls By Lori M. Lee, A Co-Hosted Read

Co-Hosting Read With Becky! Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee - Very Hit or Miss for me, but it also had the unenviable position of being in the middle of some other mind-blowing books... YMMV

Forest Of Souls By Lori M. Lee

Disclaimers: First, I knew going in that Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee involved bringing people back to life. I chose to read Forest of Souls, knowing what it’s the premise. So none of my opinions are because of a conflict with my Dead is Dead rant. That is part of why I chose to read Forest of Souls. It was a challenge of my own beliefs, so to say. As long as Lori M. Lee built it into the world well, I was fine. And she did. So, no, that does not hold any weight over this review.

Second: Forest of Souls was in a very unenviable position. It was sitting in between two of the most unique books (Declaration of the Rights of Magicians and Angel of the Crows)  I’ve read in a very long time, and right after a book that gave me an out of body experience (Year of the Witching). Third: This review of Forest of Souls, is in no way, shape, or form, going the direction of the Great Salt Lakes. AT ALL. Lori M. Lee did nothing to deserve the salt treatment.

Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, we can move on? Cool.

Thor Infinity War

You know, Becky and I have three Co-Host reads coming up… at some point I’m going to make her and admin… or we should do a podcast or something… 

Link to Becky’s Review of Forest of Souls

That Atmosphere Though

Can I have a minute to gush? I loved everything about the world-building. Lee’s painted a beast with the Dead Wood and lifted the setting, creating another character. The Dead Wood was alive. Pun not intended. Yes, there were souls, but that isn’t even what I mean. Lee electrified the whole book when we arrived at the Dead Wood, and it was fantastic.

The trees writhe, the bark buckling and cracking open. Faces emerge from within, straining against teh decaying wood. Their eyes are wrinkled burls. Their mouths scream their anguish and outrage. I recoil, my own screams frozen in my throat. The faces twist away, sinking back into the wood, but they’re quickly replaced with more- snarling, screeching, weeping sticky black sap from those horrific eyes. Branches like fingers grasp at our clothes, our skin, our hair.

The addition of the Spider King as reigning keeper of this merciless dominion added to the effect. Lee kept building from there with a dark expanse of imagination.


The Story

This is very complicated for me because everything is such extremes. Let me bullet this out, and maybe that will help.

  1. NO ROMANCE! Bless Lee’s heart. I hope everyone, where you like, love, or hate Forest of Souls, points out that there isn’t any romance in this book. We need more representation of friendships among groups of people. Whatever their sexual orientation is, guess what? PEOPLE ARE SINGLE ALL OVER THE WORLD! You don’t have to be fawning over, just broken up with or in some kind of love drama with another person, for your life to be whole.
  2. Sisterly bonds (sisters or friends they exist!)- this is fantastic. I would also love to see strong-ass opposite-sex friendships between non-related people, like In the Hall with the Knife. Because guess what? That exists, too! Friends don’t always, and shouldn’t always, turn into lovers.
  3. In addition to the atmosphere created by the Dead Wood, the action sequences were engaging. I enjoyed them- a lot.


Forest of Souls By Lori M. Lee Review

Thank you to Page Street Kids for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  1. The plot was unclear at times. The magic system wasn’t fully fleshed out.
  2. Sirscha, just all of a sudden, has this power that brings her best friend to life. She is told to figure it out and then rebuffs the person who is trying to help her figure it out? I feel like a lot is happening there that we don’t know. I need more of her figuring it out, and less of, well, it will come to you when you are in danger or afraid.
  3. The cliffhanger (don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler),  I didn’t understand. I had to talk it out with Becky (of course) and then multiple other people before I got it. OK. Maybe I’m an idiot. Fair play. But it didn’t feel that way; it felt confused. Muddled. Again, perhaps it was just me, but I also felt like other plot points could have been clearer, as well.
  4. The problem with the action sequences? The pacing was so off that they started way too late in the book, and they were unevenly placed.
  5. YAY for no romance- except that means you have to make the characters really strong.
  6. And it is brilliant that The Dead Wood was so incredible that it came alive like an additional character, but it can’t be the only strong character.

Now, as for 5 and 6? That’s the last part.

The Characters

First, Sirscha. I want so much to root for her, love her, and for her to kick the ass out of the world. Except, it is hard to see her doing that when she is so back and forth on her own core beliefs. One minute she is this Blackwidow type character who is ready to tell the world to kiss her ass because the world can’t define her. Then, in the same breath, she is basing every decision she makes on proving herself to someone, or everyone. I was getting whiplash.

Then there was her best friend, and well the rest of the characters, to be honest. They were just surface. I didn’t feel like they were ever anything but props. Every time Saengo showed up, it felt like she was only there to cause drama. She was a plot device to motivate Sirscha and/or drive the plot forward. I loved Saengo’s back story (the little we have about her family and why she joined the army), but that was all we ever got. There was no build on it. After that, all we had was her side story that propelled Sirscha story forward.

It Was OK…

I just had some points that I really loved and some that really drove me crazy, and that left me in a very rare place, which is the middle of the road. YMMV… I think it depends on what parts of a story are the most important to you. For me, as I said, it was just meh. But then there is also my disclaimers to keep in mind!


I don’t suppose anyone was going to knock me over the head about having left these off my post? Aye…

  1. What Kind of Shamen do you turn into when you have PMS?

I definitely think I would be a firewender, which is odd because I’m not a particular fan of fire. But during that time of the month? I could see burning some shit down.

2. What animal would you choose as your familiar?

If you are paying any attention at all,  you know I’m being watched as I type this. You know that I have no choice in the matter. I don’t have a familiar. I AM THE FAMILIAR. I am THEIR Familiar… Yes. I am the Council of the Ninja Magic Conjuring Cats (CNMCC), Familiar. Shocked readers, should not be shocked.

First Line Friday CNMCC

  1. If you liked… you will like Forest of Souls.

I don’t have an if.. then, but more of a parallel theme. I said it before and I’ll say it again… Killer trees! It is a running theme and there are TONS to choose from!

This is just a starter list!

Stop and Smell the Roses, or Maybe Read This Saturday Top 5, First. Books About Killer Plants

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