There are so many wonderful things I would like to say about Leah Cypess' lovely debut Mistwood. First off the cover. Holy cow it is ever gorgeous! And I'm happy to report that the insides are just as pretty. Leah Cypess has crafted a compelling world with characters who utterly refuse to be pigeon-holed into any specific category. No one is completely good or evil, trust-worthy or disloyal - all of which makes Isabel's task of uncovering those seeking to harm the Prince that much more difficult. Isabel herself is even a bit of a contradiction. Although non-human, she is continually disturbed by the all-too human emotions of fear and worry and confusion. Emotions which she keeps tightly controlled, even thought it seemed as if on every page she was this close to erupting.
Then there is the cunning and devious Clarisse, Rokan's sister, who Isabel is wary of on sight. Clarisse is a strong female with brains to spare and Isabel is right to be suspicious of her since the reader never truly understands where her sympathies lie - even at the end of the book! I have a sneaking suspicion she is one of those people who end up on the winning side of any conflict, immaterial of the side she began on. She's a puzzle and I was glued to page every time she and Isabel would spar. Like this early scene (even though Clarisse doesn't really say anything), when Clarisse pays Isabel an unexpected visit for the first time.
She turned and walked away without waiting for a response, and Isabel watched her go with narrowed eyes. She did not like that smile. It was too smug. Clarisse had come here for a specific purpose and had accomplished it.And that's just the beginning. There is absolutely nothing predictable about the stunningly mysterious Mistwood. I was right there along with Isabel as she regained her memory piece by piece, constantly plagued by a nagging sensation that something important lay yet just out of her reach. I can only hope that Ms. Cypess has plans to return to the excellent world of Mistwood and Isabel and Rokan and Clarisse, as her creative and compelling characters made quite the impression on this reader.
She came, Isabel thought with a flash of clarity, to see me. To decide what she thought of me, and what she could get out of me.
It had been an attack, of sorts, and people did fight who lived in castles like these. Not with fists and feet and claws, but with words and whispers and influence. Isabel couldn't remember having been here before, but she knew. It was a fight, or rather a game, with many players and many rules and many strategies.
She smiled suddenly, feeling her blood pump through her veins. She didn't know how, and she didn't know why, but she was suddenly sure it was a game she knew how to play.
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Book Smugglers review
Chachic's Book Nook review
Library Lounge Lizard review
Steph Su Reads review
The Story Siren review
book source: review copy from the publisher