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The Phantom Forest

(The Phantom Forest #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  204 ratings  ·  123 reviews
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 dead no
Paperback, 300 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Inkshares
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Liz Kerin Updated answer - 9/14/20. YES, there is a second book in the works entitled DARKEST DEATH. While I look for the best possible home for the rest of the…moreUpdated answer - 9/14/20. YES, there is a second book in the works entitled DARKEST DEATH. While I look for the best possible home for the rest of the series, I am releasing sneak peak chapters from the sequel via my Patreon ( The third and final book in the series is entitled LASTING LIGHT. I am also very open to the possibility of prequels! (less)
Liz Kerin Great question! I started with inspiration from the most famous mythologies, like the Greeks and the Romans (I loved the way the Greek pantheon intera…moreGreat question! I started with inspiration from the most famous mythologies, like the Greeks and the Romans (I loved the way the Greek pantheon interacted with the humans and that there was this cool symbiosis between their worlds). But the most intriguing imagery and concepts, for me, came from researching Mayan rituals/mythology, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and also reading excerpts from Dante's Inferno. There's some serious 9 Circles of Hell inspiration toward the end of the story (which is as much as I'll say lest I get spoilerific). In every culture and in every era, there's so much people have to say about the afterlife. Ultimately I wanted to create something brand new that still felt familiar. I always, always prefer to be imaginative - it keeps the brain from accidentally appropriating things and opens the reader up to a completely new world. (less)

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¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪
I want to thank NetGalley for sending me an advanced digital copy of this book.

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
Natalie  ~ The Biblioholic
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, ya-fantasy
Kerin's debut novel was full of action and nebulous adventure. 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 exploded 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 every spine-t ...more
♠ TABI⁷ ♠
'We do not know what will change the rhythm of the universe. We only know that it is coming.'


Mkay so while this was a great concept, it ultimately fell so, so flat. 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 world-building basics in here were absolutely fascinating . . . but seemed rushed and under-developed. The same a
Stephen Robert Collins
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Kal ★ Reader Voracious
✨ I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Kerin about her debut novel as part of my Novel19 Class; you can read it on Reader Voracious Blog!

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: rich worldbuilding with an emphasis on religion and lyrical writing 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 warnin
Faith M ✨
I received this eARC from Inkshares via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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 Angel
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, horror, 2019-reads
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
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books, edelweiss
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
Maryam Rz.
DNF @50%

I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the publisher, Inkshares.

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.

A girl chosen as a human sacrifice? An Underworld? A demon? A story of love, survival, and what it means to be human? Sprinkled with riddles and secrets and trust?

Well, you know I'm helpless against that...but alas, e
Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)
The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do not affect the opinion or content of the review.

So when I sat down to write my review for The Phantom Forest, all I wanted to write is this:

Protect this character
Seriously, protect this character
Take them away from Liz Kerin; it's the only way to protect them

But uh, that doesn't work as a review (maybe one day). Any
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to netgalley for giving me the chance to read this book :)

This is definitely not the kind of thing I normally read but I really enjoyed it! I’ve been wanting to read some more horror-y books for a while (even though this isn’t really horror).

The components were beautifully crafted with all the creatures and characters - all unique and incredible ideas, especially the sisters, who I loved!
I’m guessing there’s going to be a sequel? And I’d definitely read it when it comes out!
(Just chec
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Liz Kerin treats us to a tasty new morsel in the form of this dark and oh so original fable. As you are likely aware by now, the Phantom Forest traces certain of its characters through the mortal world and the afterlife. The novel is at its best and most interesting in its exploration of this afterlife. Kerin develops a realized, chaotic "underworld” that increases in complexity as the story progresses. While many of the Phantom Forest’s compelling concepts still swim around in my head a week af ...more
Kaytalin Platt
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an early copy and was not asked to review, but I'm reviewing because I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The Phantom Forest was a very well-paced and exciting read. Something about it struck the nostalgia vibes of all my favorite classic fantasy movies.

The main characters were interesting to the point that I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what happened next, a feeling all good books seem to invoke. The world-building was imaginative, original, and lovely and I'm excit
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Phantom Forest is a beautifully written dark fantasy about a young woman living in a war-torn town who is sacrificed to an evil god to ensure the town's safety. The underworld is a dark, foreboding place where she encounters a dangerous demon with a fading sense of remorse who still has a sliver of conscience. She awakens in him a glimmer of hope as she herself fights for the people she left behind. It is a story of primal fears, blind faith, the fight against evil, and redemption. Kerin has ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
this book was absolutely beautiful. i loved the worlds, the characters, the name seycia, honestly all the names were so good. the innocence and the love were so refreshing to read amongst all the loss and fear. the purity that existed despite all the hardships made this so much More. i can see a second book being written and i'm intrigued because the ending left me really wanting something, more information, more closure. ...more
Thank you to NetGalley for the free ebook in exchange for a fair review!

I could not put this down! The setting is fantastic – an intriguing post-apocalyptic world paired with an equally compelling underworld that is part Greek mythology and part Dante’s Inferno. Granted, you must accept that an underworld exists in the capacity that the author has described, but that is part of the fun of the novel.

The characters are understandable and likeable. Seycia is a self-reliant, stubborn, and tough you
This mashup of a post-apocalyptic world with an underworld was really intriguing at first, and I was invested in maybe...the first 1/4 of it, but the main characters ended up falling flat and I couldn't find myself being invested in any of their journey. Haben, the human-turned-demon boy, was probably the most interesting of the three protagonists and even then it felt like his personality only went surface deep.

The worldbuilding is definitely its biggest asset; the various details of the underw
Wiola Myszkowska
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Beautiful idea.
It was really interesting book still not free from cliche tropes of YA fantasy.
I like main idea of mixing mythical fantasy and light dystopian elements to build this world. I really captured my attention at the point when it was explained and I enjoyed idea of telling the story "What if we knew..." still it could be executed much better.
How this knowledge was affecting human mentality? I don't know. And that would be really interesting.
Instead we focus on, of course, heroine and
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Mandy C.
Cover Story: High School Art
BFF Charms: Eventually, Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Historical Future
Bonus Factors: The Underworld, Brothers and Sisters
Factor: Standalone?
Relationship Status: There Might Be Something There

Read the full book report here.
Jacqui Castle
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The complex characters and beautifully-manifested dark fantasy world shine in this debut by author Liz Kerin. The Phantom Forest tells the story of an apocalyptic war-torn future where dissidents are kept at bay by a constant threat of brutal and merciless death at the hands of a creature from the underworld. It read as part fantasy, part dystopian thriller which up-ended a few rules of both genres in the best of ways. The characters were anything but predictable. Kerin has a real knack for desc ...more
The Book Gawdess
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a free advance reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

This was an unique story based in a fascinating world. I thought it would be a horror which it was not but it was still a captivating tale.

The Phantom Forest tells the story of Seycia and Miko, two siblings orphaned by a villainous General Simeon of the Coalition. Before dying, their father gruesomely disfigured the general’s face. For this reason, they are despised by him and are living hidden in the outskirts
Robert Batten
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Note: I received an advance copy of The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin to review. However, I had already pre-ordered it and have attempted to be unbiased in my review.

The Phantom Forest is a supernatural story set in a complex world of blended cultures. It takes place in Khronasa: a small spiritual nation without modern technology conquered by a post-industrial empire. The narrative follows Seicha, a young woman who lost her parents during the invasion and has since raised her younger brother. She’
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
[Note: I received an advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review.]

Liz Kerin’s The Phantom Forest is an ambitious fantasy story of adventure, faith, and redemption. Complexly imagined and elegantly presented, the reader follows brother-sister duo Seicha and Miko as they navigate societies both terrestrial and supernatural, both of which ache for the revolutionary feeling of hope in an era of hopelessness.

Kerin introduces us to parallel worlds that are dripping with substance. Khronasa, found
Gautham Jothi
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Liz Kerin's debut is a treat full of fresh imagery, dark tone, and rich characterization. I've been reading fantasy and sci-fi for my entire life. After having completed (and stopped reading midway) innumerable books in these genres, "trope fatigue" starts to set in. The Phantom Forest was a breath of fresh air full of unique concepts on which I continued to ruminate for days. The story arc was full, unexpected, and satisfying with room for (hopefully!) a sequel.

I also appreciated that the prota
Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
I received an advance review copy from Inkshares through Netgalley; all opinions are my own and honest.

Recommended by Kal @ Reader Voracious
. (This book wasn't for me, but if you're interested I would check out Kal's review to see if it might be for you!)

Buddy read with friends from the Bookish Collision discord server! ❤

DNF at 35%.

Although the premise and worldbuilding are terrific, I'm really not a fan of the writing style or any of the characters. Obviously characters don't have to be likable
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for this book and it just blew me away. It's such a unique story, one with a deeply developed, totally fresh and endlessly fascinating mythology. And to top it all off - the writing is stunning, a pure pleasure to savor.

The Phantom Forest is a very dark fairytale about Seicha, a girl who sorta kinda dies in a creepy religious ritual sacrifice. She then enters the Underworld and teams up with the very demon she was sacrificed to in order to escape the Under

This book was just not my cup of tea and that's fine. I usually don't DNF books, but I've recently changed my mindset because there are so many books to read. If a book is not for me, I will not force myself to read it. So sadly, this is a DNF for me.
Savannah Worman (Sav’s Review)
What would happen if we got a glimpse of the afterlife? In this story, “Discovery of the afterlife had had irreparable consequences, so the Coalition abolished the notion of gods, fate, and prayer, worldwide.” Liz Kerin gives us a fresh take on what the world may look like if we saw beyond our realm in her book The Phantom Forest. Kerin intertwines her version of the afterlife and a fantastical twist on the modern day in such a way that captivates you and forces you to keep reading.
We follow Se
Toya (the reading chemist)
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Liz Kerin’s debut novel The Phantom Forest is both a dark fantasy and post apocalyptic novel. 200 years prior, humans finally unveiled the secret of what happens to souls after humans die. This lead to the apocalyptic war, which practically decimated the planet. Survivors of the war rebuilt the city, which is controlled by a tyrannical government (Hunger Games anyone?). It has been decreed that twice a year, victims are selected as sacrifices to The Savage (Haben), a demon of the Underworld who ...more
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Liz Kerin is an author, screenwriter, and playwright. THE PHANTOM FOREST (Inkshares, 2019) is her debut novel and she is currently working on the sequel, DARKEST DEATH. A graduate of the Department of Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Liz is also developing a number of Film/TV projects and workshopping her award-winning play, "Stop-Motion." She is represented by Verve for both bo ...more

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The Phantom Forest (2 books)
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