Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Forest of Souls

Forest of Souls (Shamanborn Series #1) by Lori M. Lee
English | 2020 | Young Adult, Fantasy | ePUB | 2.6 MB

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Susan Dennard, and Netflix’s The Witcher!

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.
And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.
Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

“Then why did you send me to retrieve it?” I ask. Smoke lingers in the room, a dingy haze that stings my eyes and tickles my throat. Kendara is still preoccupied, so I move toward the balcony where the air is clearer.

From this height, the capital of Vos Talwyn is an enormous sprawl of stone, statues, and curling green rooftops. Beyond the city’s walls, the land extends south like lush brocade stitched with the golden threads of morning. A shadowy ribbon against the horizon draws my eye eastward. Even from this distance, a shiver slithers down my spine. The Dead Wood mars the eastern border like the puckered, blackened edges of burned fabric.

“I told you to steal the banner from the watchtower,” Kendara says, drawing my attention again. I return to sit near the hearth as she withdraws something small from the cupboard. “I didn’t tell you to bring it to me.”

“Well, now I can’t even put it back,” I say, but our bickering is forgotten when she places a bracelet on the table before me. With a quick glance at Kendara, who nods to confirm that I can touch it, I trace my finger along the designs carved into the jewelry. The smooth texture glistens like white jade. “What is it made of?”

“Troll bone.”

My finger stills on the bracelet. Intrigued, I lean in closer to examine it. The bracelet can’t be thicker than the width of my little finger. “I would’ve thought troll bone would be bigger.”

Kendara grunts, a noise I’ve come to recognize as scorn for my imagined ignorance. She has a wide array of such sounds.

Lifting the bracelet, I turn it toward the sunlight that streams in through the open balcony and diffuses into the smoky air. The polished surface gives off a beautiful sheen, and the color transitions from a warm butter to the burned yellow of old parchment. The jeweler etched a curling design into the bone that lends it an elegant quality. A metal fastener fashioned to look like tiny lotus petals allows a section of the bone to be removed so that the bracelet can be worn. It’s lovely but somewhat grotesque, given its origin.

“For you,” she says.

I almost drop the bracelet. But I recover quickly, clutching the troll bone in my fist. “I … um. Thank you. It’s very … thoughtful.” I narrow my eyes. “And unusual. Why are you giving me this?”

Kendara is many things, but thoughtful is not one of them. It’s part of what I admire about her. She never pretends to be anything other than who she is.

She turns away, but not before I notice the slight purse of her mouth. It’s not a smile—Kendara does not smile—but sometimes the muscles around her mouth spasm and twitch, like she’s trying to imitate the motions. It’s just as well. An actual smile might break her face.

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