Forest of Souls

Page St. Jun. 2020. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781624149245.
Gr 7-10–Sirscha is an orphan with nothing going for her but her friendship with Saengo, and her aspirations to become the queen’s next spy. When she and Saengo are caught up in a shaman attack, Sirscha demonstrates what no one knew: she has magic, too. The queen, however, has outlawed the practice of magic, making Sirscha and Saengo fugitives. Together, they travel through the Spider King’s forest of bloodthirsty trees holding trapped souls so that Sirscha can learn to use her magic. But as Sirscha explores the limits of her power, she also learns that others—from the Spider King, to her own queen, to even the common people desperately looking to survive—are eager to use her power for their own ends. Ultimately, Sirscha must navigate political intrigue within and beyond her own kingdom, and uncover dark secrets and dark magic, if she hopes to bring about any sort of peace or justice.
VERDICT Lee is a masterful world-builder, creating intriguing scenarios and a compelling cast of characters, anchored by the strong portrayals of female friendship. For fans of Natasha Ngan and Joan He, and for any high fantasy collection.

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