For What It's Worth

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: Mistwood by Leah Cypess

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. YA

I really loved Mistwood. It was the first book I’ve read in a long time that was fresh and original and where I felt that I was being swept into the world Cypess created. It was also one of the few books that I couldn’t see what was coming. I was surprised several times by plot twists.
This isn’t so much a paranormal book (even though it has a shifter as the MC) as a world with betrayals and poltical intrigue at every turn.
Isabel is the legendary Shifter sworn to protect kings. After she fails and the King and his family are murdered under her watch, she returns to the Mistwood, forgetting everything other than that she is the Shifter, until she is pulled back by duty by the Prince Rokan who needs her protection if he is to become the new king.
Rokan needs her help to fend off rivals during his transition to power but both are harboring secrets that could endanger the other.
This book is being promoted as a romance which is a little misleading. There aren’t a lot of grand romantic gestures but it makes the ones that are there all the more powerful in my opinion. The bond that Rokan and Isabel forge in spite of the odds is one built on mutual respect and understanding of each other’s circumstances. It’s a relationship that is put to the ultimate test and because of that it made it more believable.
He didn’t move, but there was something savage in the way he watched her. “I only knew the legend then. I didn’t know you.”

“I am the legend”

“No.” His eyes were like spear tips. Not quite able to reach her, but not for lack of trying. “No, you’re not. Legends don’t laugh, or argue, or make sly remarks. Legends don’t want and need and feel. Legends don’t betray

There are some really beautiful passages that I found myself highlighting. Cypess’s writing style has a gentle, somewhat lyrical quality to me. It might turn some people off but I found it a refreshing change of pace. Her shifter is unlike any I have read about before and Rokan is a young man who would be king - struggling between power and humanity.
If I have one complaint it would be that I would have a liked a little more action, it’s not a very fast paced story but just as I was thinking that I realized I was near the end so it certainly didn’t deter me in any way.
I really hope this is the beginning of a series. I would love to see Rokan and Isabel working and ruling together and learn more about the Mistwood itself.
As for the ending. I have seen some complaints. It’s not a big sweeping ending but I really liked it and felt it stayed true to the subtle tone of the book.
Loved: Isabel was a really strong complex character as was Rokan. The supporting characters were nicely developed also - but to a lesser extent. I liked Isabel’s relationship with Rokan’s sister Clarisse, and the sorcerer Ven.
Nitpick: A little more action would have been nice.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4. A beautiful story!

Author's website:
Buy the book! Mistwood
Leah Cypess is a member of the Class of 2K10:  Go check out what's coming up next!
*check out all my Class of 2K10 book reviews on my sidebar under the "Class of 2k10 Debut Author Challenge Book Reviews & Interviews!" button.


  1. Awesome review, Karen!! This one sounds so good, I love to find certain passages that I really like and it sounds like this one is full of them :)

  2. This sounds great, and I'm really looking forward to reading it now :) I think you might enjoy Graceling (Kristin Cashore) as well, which is also more of a fantasy with kingdoms and political intrigue and stuff like that ... the story is just WOW ... and the love story ... *SQUEE*!

  3. Okay, it's moved up even higher on the TBR. This baby;s getting bought int he next month, after that description of Rokan and Isabel's interaction.

  4. Tiger - I think you would like it but I'm not positive - it's different though - subtle, not a rip roaring action romance. It was just the type of book I was in the mood for....after all these hormonal teenage love triangles :-))

  5. Great review Karen! This book looks so good!

  6. Really, it's being promoted as romance? But the romance is so subtle, I even forgot to mention it in my review. I heard from a book blogger friend that she's writing a companion novel for this one. Can't wait for that! :) In the meantime, have you read any of Megan Whalen Turner, Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce's novels? Because those are the three authors often associated with Leah Cypess.

  7. Chachic - Not promoted really but I have read a few reviews (from professionals...not bloggers) that highlighted the romance so that's wha tI was expecting. I loved it though..
    I have not read any of those. I'll have to check them out. I can't wait for Leah to write another book. I hear she'll be at BEA so maybe I'll get a chance to ask her!

  8. Already bought it! We shall see how it stacks up. ;-)