I am thrilled to be writing this blog post!
This book is one I purchased back in June when it had come out and I am so sad to say I did it the ultimate worst disservice by leaving it to collect dust until I finally FINALLY managed to get to it! And… It is an absolute fantastic read and truly reminded me why I love YA Fantasy so much!!
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.
The main character, Sirscha, was a true badass heroine with that drive that only comes from working and fighting hard for what you want. Her drive honestly motivated me to tackle some of the things in my life and really push myself beyond what I think I can handle. The friendship she has with Saengo was also another truly inspiring and wonderful thing to read. It was a genuine relationship and one that didn’t come without faults or errors. As is life. I do wish though, and I heard other readers mention this as well, that we got to see more turmoil with Sirscha in actually using the powers she came into. I know she was reluctant and had that inner turmoil, but it did seem at times that these powers were working for her just right. It would have been nice to see her struggle a bit… it’s interesting when a character who has fought so much realizes that they have to keep fighting, nothing is ever solid. Again, as is life.
The scenery painted by Lori M. Lee was incredible. I kept shuffling through the pages at a much quicker speed to drink in more of the world and all it had to offer. It has Asian influences for sure and the dynamic and diversity was soo refreshing and needed. It makes me excited knowing that authors like this exist and are writing books that deserve to be on shelves. I really felt the atmosphere of this world being inclusive but more so tackling real issues. Not everyone looks the same. Not everyone has the same problems or the same solutions that work for them.
The Spider King was a concept I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. I think that was intentional, and if so, incredibly genius as he was one I was not entirely sure what would come of him… until the end of course. Since this is a non-spoilery review, I will just say this book ends with a cliffhanger that will keep you wondering about the ending for days.
I will say there were many tropes in play here. We do have the typical average orphan girl who comes into some powerful magic well… magically, but there is a reason these tropes are great and devoured by readers. And this book showed me how tropes can still be exciting to read.
I do wish there was more romance. If you know me at all, you know I love me some romance especially slow burn. I think there is something underlining the surface here but I don’t think we will see it for another book or so… maybe… hopefully because Meilek is… sooo freaking cute!! And he is definitely that boy you root for!
If you are debating picking this book up, debate no more. I highly recommend it and encourage you to lose yourself in a fantastic story!