The Phantom Forest
By Liz Kerin
Published July 2019 by Inkshares
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.
The Phantom Forest was a darker fantasy read than I anticipated, and I loved it.
In short, there’s a forest that exists in the Underworld. Each tree is a soul. Some souls are good and some are bad, and it just depends on what choices they made.
The story is told in alternating points of view, between Seycia, her little brother Miko and Haben, who is a demon. Seycia and Miko’s lives are hard. They’re poor and can only rely on each other for support, as their parents were killed.
Per their culture, there is a ritual the village performs where they throw a human sacrifice to the demon to keep him sated. It was really barbaric and almost hard to read. Haben is the demon who consumes the human sacrifice and we do get to read through his point of view which was an interesting perspective.
Seycia ends up becoming the next human sacrifice, except she doesn’t die when she goes into the Underworld.
As characters, quite honestly I liked all 3 of the characters whose perspective we get to read from, because they all had likable qualities. Yes, even Haben. Seycia is strong-willed and determined and so is Miko, even though it’s easy at first to write him off as being a young child.
And Haben’s story was probably the most interesting for me. I’d love more backstory on him. A prequel maybe?
The way the book ends, it’s clear we still have things unresolved and need more answers. Originally, when I looked on Goodreads it appears as though this book is a standalone, but I’m nosy and started picking through discussions and discovered that this book is indeed written to be the first in a trilogy. So I’m legit crossing my fingers there’s another one because I definitely want to read more and have more of a resolution.
Fantasy reads are totally my jam and this book definitely delivered some really cool elements for me. Yes, it’s a darker type fantasy but that’s what makes it a good read.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.