13 must-read June YA book releases to start your summer off right

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee. Image Courtesy Page Street Publishing
Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee. Image Courtesy Page Street Publishing /
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Forest of Souls – Lori M. Lee

Forest of Souls, the first novel in a new series from author Lori M. Lee, is a dark, rich fantasy that purports to spend more time on friendship and world-building than on romance. Which immediately sets it apart from some of its competition this month. (I love a good romance as much as the next girl, but I love a novel that knows it doesn’t need one if it’s not right.)

It follows the story of Sirscha Ashwyn, a spy-in-training who wants to the next Queen’s Shadow, enduring a series of grueling trials to prove her worthiness for this elite position. However, her plan goes horribly wrong when she discovers she has magic – which changes the course of her life entirely.

Sirscha finds some kinship with the Shamanborn – elemental magic users whose very existence she would have hunted down in her previous life – as she tries to gain control over her abilities. But will she make her way back to the path she always followed, or forge a new future?

The official synopsis describes the story as follows.

"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."

Forest of Souls is available on June 23.