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July 16, 2019

The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin ~ a Review

by MK French



Seycia had grown up with tales of the Forest of Laida as a child, but the old religion had been banned by the Coalition. General Simeon killed her parents and continues to sacrifice villagers to the demons like the old religion calls for, and he had marked Seycia for death as well. When she's sacrificed, however, she doesn't die. She now has to work with the demon Haben to journey to the Forest of Laida, the place where souls will regenerate. There are dangers above and below, and it won't be an easy task.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

July 2019; Inkshares; 978-1947848993
audio, print (336 pages); YA, fantasy
It's fascinating to see the world around the village of Khronasa. This is a post-apocalyptic world, with flashes of our own in pieces left behind, but it's not the focus of the story. Instead, there's Seycia's story thread, as she tries to protect her brother Miko in this harsh reality of the world they live in, and then Miko's thread as he struggles to survive without her. Because he's the only one to have escaped the sacrificial pit, the inevitable resistance that exists underground takes him in and hopes he can be a symbol for them. Seycia is more than human but not quite demon in the Underworld, and learns how the world had ended when mortals breached the divide between the Underworld and the land of the living.

The villains of the novel, General Simeon and the god Dohv, aren't simply cardboard cutouts of evil. While they may seem that way at first, there are other motivations at play and we get a chance to see them in action. I don't feel sorry for them in the slightest, and eagerly followed the action in both story threads. They interwove in places so that Seycia's love for her brother could literally help protect him because he's still a boy and not quite ready to be a leader. They're all capable of making mistakes as well as their great heroics so that they felt like real people. Seycia and Haben work better as a friendship, even though as the story progresses it seems like the narrative was trying to force a romantic relationship. That part didn't ring true to me at all, but I loved the rest of the novel.

This is Liz Kerin's first novel, but it's very finely crafted and flows pretty well. I hope this is the start of a series because it definitely feels like there are more stories to be told in this world.

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Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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