Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Series: Mistwood (#1)
Pages: 304
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published: April 27th, 2010
IBSN: 9780061956997

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 Mistwood. 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.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Mistwood was at first a little confusing, since I couldn't remember the blurb and had no inkling what it was about. But once I understood what was going on, I was captivated. I loved the premise: there's a Shifter living in the Mistwood bound by magic to protect the kings of Samorna. She resigns back to her woods when her work is done, but always come back when she's needed.

Mistwood is predominately about Isabel's - the Shifter's - struggle with her loyalties. The Shifter's entire purpose is and always has been to protect the king, but she's faced a dilemma: which one?

I loved Isabel - cold, distant, and kick-ass. That on top of a third person perspective, I can imagine some reader's would have trouble connecting with/feeling for her, but I love my heroines unsentimental and badass.

The plot was fast-paced and to the point. The book didn't as much focus on physical action as I thought it would, but was more about Isabel's slowly figuring out the mystery surrounding why she left last time. Something new is revealed in almost every chapter, and the final twist was so unpredictable yet explained so much.

Mistwood is also incredibly well-written. The author's style was tense and serious, and entirely compelling.

The ending was satisfying, foreshadowed by Isabel's angst about who to side with, and maintained the story's tone. It tied up all of the loose ends with a realistic denouement.

I give Mistwood a 5 out of 5, and recommend it to fans of Graceling and other epic fantasies.