The Phantom Forest

The Phantom Forest

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 d...

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Title:The Phantom Forest
Author:Liz Kerin
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Phantom Forest Reviews

  • Cari

    Liz Kerin's debut is a haunting, creepy tale set in a fantastical world. Seycia is a young woman of the town of Khronasa, a village on an Earth that was destroyed by war years ago. Ever since the town was raided and her parents were killed, Seycia has been in charge of her little brother, Miko. They keep to themselves, surviving quietly, keeping out of the way. But the evil General Simeon, who bears a scar made by Seycia's father, has other plans for them. The Savage, a beast who lies beyond the

    Liz Kerin's debut is a haunting, creepy tale set in a fantastical world. Seycia is a young woman of the town of Khronasa, a village on an Earth that was destroyed by war years ago. Ever since the town was raided and her parents were killed, Seycia has been in charge of her little brother, Miko. They keep to themselves, surviving quietly, keeping out of the way. But the evil General Simeon, who bears a scar made by Seycia's father, has other plans for them. The Savage, a beast who lies beyond the veil to the underworld, will take sacrifices from time to time, and Seycia is set to be his next meal.

    This is only the beginning of a complicated story that will take Seycia into the depths of the underworld, helping her to explore the very essence of her humanity. There are layers of evil and corruption here, and Simeon is not the only villain. The god Dohv, who rules the underworld, becomes a frightening and overpowering presence. There's also the Savage to contend with, who experiences a fascinating character arc of his own. We also watch Miko as he struggles on Earth without his sister, trying to evade Simeon.

    I was riveted by the descriptions of the underworld - I could picture Seycia, like she was in one of those worlds from Legend or The Dark Crystal. The story is cinematic, which speaks to Kerin's background in film. And although it's not a total cliffhanger, there is definitely room for more here. We have some questions that are not completely answered. I'd love to see what is next.

  • ☽¸¸.I am¸¸.•*¨ The ¸¸.•*¨*Phoenix¨*•♫♪ ☾

    Wow. Okay, focus. Phew.

    Two hundred years ago, humans discovered something they were not supposed to find out: what happens to our souls when we die. After the apocalyptic war that followed this event destroyed the majority of the planet, a bunch of survivors had rebuilt a society, controlled by a tyrannical government. Once a year

    Wow. Okay, focus. Phew.

    Two hundred years ago, humans discovered something they were not supposed to find out: what happens to our souls when we die. After the apocalyptic war that followed this event destroyed the majority of the planet, a bunch of survivors had rebuilt a society, controlled by a tyrannical government. Once a year they select a victim for a sacrifice to the Underworld, but when Seycia, a 19 year old orphan who takes care of her younger brother, gets involved, things don't go as planned. Who is the Savage? What really happens in the Underworld? And what is so special in the weapon she inherited for her father, that looks just like an animal fang?

    Phantom Forest is a wonderful, dark and incredibly rich dystopian/fantasy novel, so well built and fast paced that I wasn't able to put it down till I reached the end. I was absolutely captivated by the atmosphere, the characters and yes, even the slow-burn romance 🔥 ...

    This novel submerges the reader in a landscape so imaginative and detailed that the information of the world building, as complex as it is, never feels forced, and is never difficult to understand or picture in one's mind.

    The characters are well-rounded, developed and realistic for the most part. The female protagonist is a lovely young adult, strong, independent and responsible but without ever being cocky. The male characters are less developed and, in general, more

    , but I absolutely adored the love interest, his personality and his background story. The characters of this book all feel plausible, all have a mission in life and their perspective in the book are all equally interesting. And oh, the creatures, the creatures! 😍

    I don't know what else to say about this book, if not that it's one of the best young adult/new adult novels I ever read... And I can't wait for the sequel!!!

  • Gemma F

    The Phantom Forest was a novel I read within a span of six hours and was drawn in from the start. I liked how it consisted of well-developed characters with a setting that was a mix between the fantasy and dystopian genre. The concept that souls were made of trees is something I'd never heard of - which made it even more wonderful for me.

    From the first page till the last, I was left on the edge of my seat feeling for the characters and wondering what the next page brought. The world

    The Phantom Forest was a novel I read within a span of six hours and was drawn in from the start. I liked how it consisted of well-developed characters with a setting that was a mix between the fantasy and dystopian genre. The concept that souls were made of trees is something I'd never heard of - which made it even more wonderful for me.

    From the first page till the last, I was left on the edge of my seat feeling for the characters and wondering what the next page brought. The world building and setting was fantastic and I liked how the underworld was portrayed in a dark, yet moody and atmospheric world.

    The storyline of the other characters such as Seycia's brother lent so much more to the story as we knew it - particularly in the eyes of a young boy.

    I loved Haben's chapters a lot and we got to see his side of the story from the Underworld and how things went from his perspective. I felt compassion for him and enjoyed how the author developed his character.

    Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for sending me an Electronic ARC of The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin!

    Jul 1, 2019

    This book was everything I never knew I needed! Loved every bit of it! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Stephen Robert Collins

    This across between Dante's Inferno & Jeannette Ng's Under the Pendulum Sun. It is difficult to chose, is it fantasy it starts like one ,but we have guns ,cars & photograph ;& concrete cellar; along with talk of apocalyptic Wars & then we have final twist Demons mainly The Savage a demon with split personality as he also Haben the hater of Dohv the King of the Underworld.

    Liz Kerin has created a book that grasps at religion shadows the darker side of heaven & hell every

    This across between Dante's Inferno & Jeannette Ng's Under the Pendulum Sun. It is difficult to chose, is it fantasy it starts like one ,but we have guns ,cars & photograph ;& concrete cellar; along with talk of apocalyptic Wars & then we have final twist Demons mainly The Savage a demon with split personality as he also Haben the hater of Dohv the King of the Underworld.

    Liz Kerin has created a book that grasps at religion shadows the darker side of heaven & hell every much as John Bunion's The Pilgrim 's Progress does as Seycia plays a feminist Pilgrim . I love evil dark General Simeon who reads like Mathew Hopkins The Witchfinder General .

    As you progress into this book it is not main characters but sidle characters that add the extra spice to the plot . It is the villains & the violence of the fights that are vividly described in Bloody detail.

  • Kal ★ Reader Voracious

    ✨ I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Kerin about her debut novel as part of my

    ; you can

    !

    Friends, I loved reading this debut fantasy novel so much! The Phantom Forest has all the ingredients that I live for in a good story:

    with an emphasis on religion and

    that sucked me in on the first page. This is a dark, gruesome, and bloody story that won’t be for everyone so please do check the content warnings at the bottom of the review.

    ✨ I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Kerin about her debut novel as part of my

    ; you can

    !

    Friends, I loved reading this debut fantasy novel so much! The Phantom Forest has all the ingredients that I live for in a good story:

    with an emphasis on religion and

    that sucked me in on the first page. This is a dark, gruesome, and bloody story that won’t be for everyone so please do check the content warnings at the bottom of the review.

    I had so many questions while reading this book, but not in a bad way if that makes sense.

    Who are these people? What are they being punished for? The worldbuilding is both slow and all at once as the reader is thrust into the deep end of the world but never given too much at any given time. I was hungry for more much like the Savage hungers.

    The Phantom Forest is told mostly in the three alternating third-person perspectives of Seycia, Miko, and Haben, with the addition of a couple chapters from General Simeon’s perspective.

    The first 20% of the book was solely told from Seycia’s and Haben’s perspectives as their paths inevitably converge, after which we have two storylines: one in the Underworld and following the family that Seycia left behind (Miko). By this point

    , so it did take some time for me to warm up to Miko’s own journey but once I did I was hooked and finished the rest of the book in one sitting.

    This is an action-packed story and there is so much within its 300 pages.

    ; I feel like Miko and Seycia’s arcs and stories are just getting started in comparison. I still adore them both and am incredibly invested in what happens next for them.

    The Phantom Forest is definitely a philosophical exploration into the afterlife, but it also

    . The book takes place seven years after The Coalition came into power and religious practices were outlawed… expect in Khronasa where General Simeon kept up the annual sacrifice to the Savage ritual going as a means of control. But Simeon’s control is weakening as the status quo is challenged.

    . A thread in much of the story is whether or not a soul starts life with a tabula rasa or if a bad soul can atone in the next life. Who becomes worthy of second chances and who gets to make those decisions?

    I really connected with Kerin’s writing style, her descriptions are so detailed and vivid that I was able to picture everything without it feeling too cumbersome. You can definitely tell that she is a storyteller and I look forward to watching her continue to hone her craft. People who struggle with purple prose and heavy imagery may have a tough time with this book, but it really worked for me.

    I was left wanting to know a bit more about how the sacrifices were chosen by Simeon, his motives, and his history. We got a couple of chapters from his perspective but I didn’t find that they really added to the story in a meaningful way for me.

    His villainy never really felt fully realized to me.

    ! I love stories that explore concepts of the afterlife and encourage me to wax poetic,

    If you like epic adventures, redemption arcs, mythology, and vivid imagery then I encourage you to give this book a try!

    (from author’s website) ritual human sacrifice, suicidal ideation, metaphors about disordered eating, brief threat of sexual violence, cannibalism, child abduction, genocide, dead parents, gun violence

  • Jackie

    My highly anticipated books for 2019 have been bumming me out and then this guy shows up out of nowhere and completely blew me away!

    “The Phantom Forest” drags us into the Underworld when a sacrifice manages to survive and finds herself face to face with a demon who feds on those sent to him by the General in order to maintain power. With her fall, Seycia fights to save her brother from a similar fate and restore order to a world that has succumbed to the darkness.

    I took a chance on this book a

    My highly anticipated books for 2019 have been bumming me out and then this guy shows up out of nowhere and completely blew me away!

    “The Phantom Forest” drags us into the Underworld when a sacrifice manages to survive and finds herself face to face with a demon who feds on those sent to him by the General in order to maintain power. With her fall, Seycia fights to save her brother from a similar fate and restore order to a world that has succumbed to the darkness.

    I took a chance on this book and I’m so glad I did it starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up the entire way through! The blending of different point of views was one of my favorite things as each character had their moment to shine and though this is a short book and rather quick read I feel as though we learned a lot about who these characters are and what each of their roles were in this world.

    I adored the entire mythology around The Savage and how he came to be and what he wished to become. His struggle was one that was so well written because we had those moments of terror as well as those of understanding as we learn what happened to the world to make it what it is and the rewards and consequences of trying to protect or honor your family.

    I’m not sure if there needed to be a romance element and I’m willing to ignore it especially as it’s so minimal but the dynamic between our two leads was one of my favorites because of how innocent it was despite the circumstances of their meeting and everything that followed and I can’t wait to see where it goes should the series continue!

    This was such a great read and perfect for fans of Peadar Ó Guilín who may want a little more bite out of their books.

    **special thanks to the publishers and netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**

  • akiko

    3.5 Creeback Stars

    18 year old Seycia and her younger brother, Miko (11 years old) have grown up in a world of sacrifices to the Savage, twice a year, (children and all). Seycia catches sight of the eyes of the 'Savage' during one of the sacrificial rituals, and soon finds herself face to face with those eyes once more...and so a journey begins...

    Haben (Savage) has a long history of dealing with a deathly hunger, because of a curse that was placed on him by Dohv, Lord of t

    3.5 Creeback Stars

    18 year old Seycia and her younger brother, Miko (11 years old) have grown up in a world of sacrifices to the Savage, twice a year, (children and all). Seycia catches sight of the eyes of the 'Savage' during one of the sacrificial rituals, and soon finds herself face to face with those eyes once more...and so a journey begins...

    Haben (Savage) has a long history of dealing with a deathly hunger, because of a curse that was placed on him by Dohv, Lord of the Underworld. Haben feasts on the sacrifices given to him by General Simeon, a man from the coalition, run by Imperial Majesty Emperor, Caius...and then he catches sight of Seycia...

    This was a fun read, with hints of romance, some darker undertones, and Underworld adventure!

    Great debut from a new author!

    This releases July 16th, 2019!

  • Natalie ✩★ The Biblioholic ★✩

    Kerin's debut novel was full of

    and

    . The author easily won me over with her world building, her plot heavily influenced by religious mythology, her intriguing and broken characters, and everything else that

    from this book and made me a fan. Between learning more about the well-developed characters and never knowing what would happen next, I was on the edge of my seat for this journey from beginning to end. The path proved treacherous and I enjoyed

    Th

    Kerin's debut novel was full of

    and

    . The author easily won me over with her world building, her plot heavily influenced by religious mythology, her intriguing and broken characters, and everything else that

    from this book and made me a fan. Between learning more about the well-developed characters and never knowing what would happen next, I was on the edge of my seat for this journey from beginning to end. The path proved treacherous and I enjoyed

    This story centers around (and is told mostly by) three principle characters:

    - she's a clever, courageous, fearless, and extremely headstrong. Alone during her formative years, after witnessing her parents death in her war-torn country, she's learned to survive and protect her little brother. Her love for her sibling is what really drew me to her, because big sisters love like no other. No one can touch, talk, or even think about our little ones. She's willing to do anything for him and ends up making the biggest sacrifice of all.

    - once a human who lived centuries ago, now a demon slave to the ruler of the Underworld. He has been turned into the Savage, a demon who comes to Earth twice a year to eat human sacrifices. He hates what he has become but feels his punishment matches his crime. You'll spend much of the book trying to figure out what he did to deserve this. Once Seycia finds herself in the Underworld, Haben does everything he can to help her survive. He becomes friend (and maybe more?), educator, and support when Seycia needs it most. FYI to the author... Haben

    this story and I need more of this man

    - Seycia's younger brother who ends up being the the Light for the people of his land. He's twelve and finds that his age doesn't diminish his strength or the fortitude required to do something about what is happening to his people. While he mourns his sister, he finds purpose and joins others in toppling the autocracy that his dominated his people for years. He's brave and intelligent, but still a bit naive and childish. His story arc intrigues me almost as much as Haben's does.

    Other characters play a decidedly major role although they had minor parts:

    - he was the brutal ruler of Khronasa, with no love for its people or its traditions. He had an intense need to wipe out Seycia and her brother for wrongs done to him and lacked compunction for any of the evil he perpetrated. He was answerable and fearful of Emperor Caius, who had forced the people into subservience.

    - ruler of the Underworld. He doled out pain and punishment on a whim. He was creepy, scary, and I would never want to meet him. He was right there, at every turn, during Haben and Seycia's mission to the Great Forest. He had spies everywhere and nowhere was safe from his wrath.

    There were a ton of other characters we come to know. Some to love and some to hate along with everyone else. With her first novel, Kerin has established herself as a must-read author for the genre. She gave me everything I crave in a YA story and left me hungry for more. Now, at the end of this chapter of the tale, I'm tense and anxious to find out where this story will lead me next. I

    a book two

    Click

    for the full review!

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  • ♠️ TABI ♠️

    Mkay so

    Which makes me sad because I read so many books with amazing ideas and concepts that just aren't given the brilliance they deserve if more time, in-depth editing, and coaxing out their potential. For instance,

    The same applied to the characters and plot

    Mkay so

    Which makes me sad because I read so many books with amazing ideas and concepts that just aren't given the brilliance they deserve if more time, in-depth editing, and coaxing out their potential. For instance,

    The same applied to the characters and plot. And while I loved what happened with Haben and Sycia, even then things just didn't seem to be written to their true, magnificent potential and thus I am a good bit heartbroken because the ideas and concepts behind this book are simply brilliant

  • Faith (BookSelf ~ You Are What You Read)

    DNF at 19%

    I know I said I'd try to read a few more chapters (or even finish the chapter I was on tbh), but this book literally puts me to sleep, and I just can't lie to myself or to NetGalley any longer. I will not be finishing this.

    This book feels like a mish-mash of everything that was popular in 2008-2011. It's got the demons

    DNF at 19%

    I know I said I'd try to read a few more chapters (or even finish the chapter I was on tbh), but this book literally puts me to sleep, and I just can't lie to myself or to NetGalley any longer. I will not be finishing this.

    This book feels like a mish-mash of everything that was popular in 2008-2011. It's got the demons from another realm from

    and

    . It's got the postapocalypse from

    and Angelfall again. It's got the girl searching for her sibling from Angelfall

    . It's got the angsty love interest with a tortured past from every single Beauty and the Beast retelling ever, of which YA is currently saturated.

    In other words, it was generic af and offered me nothing I hadn't seen before, done infinitely better or at least marginally entertaining. I couldn't stand the repetitive and passive writing. The action sequences were dull and the sentence structure lacked pretty much any variety until I felt like a literal robot wrote this book.

    The inciting incident, if you can call it that, was so hokey that I was actually baffled that it was in the book at all. Basically, MC Seycia and her brother are at the ritual sacrifice thing and almost get robbed but, while the entire community is chanting the ritual thing around her, this girl beats the crap out of the would-be thief, and then is like "wow, I wOnDeR iF AnYOnE NoTIcEd?"

    And I also couldn't stand literally any of the characters, except maybe the Missing Sibling™ Miko, and only really because I got his perspective right before I decided to drop the book and he didn't have a chance to bore me to death yet.

    The villain is laughably black and white, with only a little bit of depth that's quickly overshadowed by his cartoonishly evil actions and appearance.

    But what bothers me the most is that the average rating is so high, and that the parts I found to be the worst are many people's favorites. It really makes me wonder if we read the same book.

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