Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book Review: Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Title: Mistwood
Author:  Leah Cypess
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books / HarperTeen
Genre: YA/fantasy
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN: 0061956996  
The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwod.

But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty--because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.

Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

  • Overall rating: 8/10
To buy this book: IndieBound | The Book Depository | Powell's Amazon
Add this book to your: Goodreads | Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

A shifter who can't remember her past, a prince in a dangerous position, and a court full of  deceptions make Leah Cypess' Mistwood an impressive debut novel.  This book is an intriguing YA fantasy that will appeal to fans of Tamora Pierce's Tortall books, Kristin Cashore's The Seven Kingdoms trilogy, and Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series.  

What I Liked:
-     Isabel is a formidable heroine.  She is intelligent and courageous.  As the story unfolds, she is faced with increasingly difficult choices, but she remains brave and decisive even while frustrated by her lack of memory.  Her unique abilities are intriguing, she is not shy about her  intimidating presence, and she handles conflicts with clever calculations and impressive physical skills.
-     Many of the secondary characters have hidden agendas, so there are some excellent twists in this story.  As one mystery is solved, another is revealed.   Isabel is not certain who to trust, and neither is the reader.  Fun!  
-     I love that the characters in this book are drawn in many shades of gray.  Even the individuals you may find yourself rooting against have understandable motives, and I truly wasn't sure which path Isabel would choose until her allegiance was put to the ultimate test.
-     Romance is not the primary focus of this story, but it contributes to the complexity of the choices facing the characters when it does appear.  
-     The mysteries and subplots are satisfactorily wrapped up by the end of the book, but I still found myself thinking about this novel long after finishing it.
-     Although Mistwood has a conclusive ending and works well as a stand-alone novel, I was  thrilled to hear that Leah Cypess is working on a companion novel. 

What I Wished:
-     Isabel is a great character and I enjoyed following her as she struggled to utilize her abilities, understand her past, and make challenging decisions.  But I wanted to get to know the other important characters a little more.  Rokan, in particular, had much less page time than I expected.  
-     I do think the minimal amount of romance suited the story, but I was personally hoping for a bit more romance.  This isn't intended as a huge complaint.  After all, Tamora Pierce's YA fantasy novels are among my very favorites, and I nearly always want them to have a little more romance too. 

Mistwood is an entertaining YA fantasy with a strong and conflicted heroine.  I enjoyed the twists and turns in the story and look forward to reading more from debut author Leah Cypess.  If you would like to learn more about Mistwood and author Leah Cypess, please visit her website | facebook | twitter.

You can read the first three chapters of Mistwood here!  :-)


Chachic said...

Glad to hear that you liked this one! I'm real excited to get it, I'm waiting patiently for my copy. I had to have a copy transferred from a different branch of the bookstore because the one near me ran out of copies. I've been looking forward to reading this as I am a fan of Megan Whalen Turner, Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce.

Candace said...

I'm glad to read a good review of this book! I read some really negative ones that were disappointing as I'm looking forward to reading it someday. Glad to hear that it may not be as horrible as I've heard!

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