Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review: Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Tags: YA, fantasy, conspiracy

Rating: 4 out of 5


Isabel knows she’s a Shifter, a mythical creature created from mist and wind, whose only purpose is to defend the life of the king. She’s been brought from her beloved Mistwood back to the Samornian king, the young Rokan. Magical and political conspiracy abound in the Samornian court, and it’s up to Isabel’s powerful Shifter senses to seek out danger to the king, even if it means risking her own safety and well-being.

Meanwhile, Isabel struggles to puzzle out her hazy memories of her previous lives as Shifter in the court, but when she uncovers a shocking conspiracy, Isabel learns things about Rokan—and herself—that she’s never had to deal with before.


MISTWOOD is an exquisitely written, beautifully rendered high fantasy YA debut that will make it an instant favorite of fans of Kristin Cashore. The beauty and complexity of Isabel’s story literally took my breath away and left me begging for more.

Leah Cypess wastes no words in her writing. Instead, every sentence provides a wealth of material about the story: setting the scene, describing Isabel’s inhuman-like thoughts and her struggles. It is fascinating to watch Isabel change over the course of this novel. The change is subtle yet carefully crafted, and just when you thought you had things figured out, Cypess comes along and throws you for a loop that is unexpected but, on second thought, completely appropriate and wildly appreciated. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I like when books outsmart me, and I was delighted that all my predictions were blown out of the water in a totally plausible manner.

The secondary characters were not as well developed as Isabel, which can oftentimes lead to confusing conversations. Likewise, the plot can always get rather confusing at times: I found myself having to read slowly in order to fully understand the intricacies of particular scenes. Not that I didn’t enjoy doing it, however. All the enjoyable twists and turns—and yes, even the confusing bits—ensured that I didn’t want this book to end.

Overall, MISTWOOD was a book that started off strong and just got better by the end. The publicity line for the book, comparing it to works by Kristin Cashore, Tamora Pierce, and Megan Whalen Turner, doesn’t lie. This is an incredible debut accomplishment, and I’m hoping for many more books written by Leah Cypess in the future.

Similar Authors
Kristin Cashore
Tamora Pierce
Megan Whalen Turner
Robin McKinley

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Cover discussion: 2 out of 5 - I might be in the minority about this, but I'm not particularly inspired or intrigued. Indeed, I had passed on this book multiple times when it came up in my Goodreads dashboard, on account of the strangeness of the cover. The awkwardly positioned half-face with the discomforting eyes, floating atop a faraway view of a gloomy castle... Didn't work for me. The colors are gloomy, the composition feels forced, and the overall thing just repels me instead of attracts.

Greenwillow Books / April 27, 2010 / Hardcover / 320pp. / $16.99

ARC borrowed from Doylestown Bookshop's Advanced Reader Program.


  1. Well this is very encouraging indeed because I preordered this book this week from Amazon. Yay! I am so glad that you enjoy this and that it doesn't just fade into the melting pot YA supernatural books.

  2. I pre-ordered this book as well and am really looking forward to it. I'm glad you enjoyed this book b/c I was hoping it was going to be a good and one that my students will enjoy as well. Great review!

  3. Fantastic review! I'm glad Mistwood seems to be living up to the hype. I like that the book "outsmarted" you and hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised by plot twists too. I can't wait to read it!

  4. I'm glad I read your review because I totally thought this was another book about werewolves and I see now that it is not and it is exactly the kind of book I generally love.

    So I have put it on my wishlist. Woo!!

  5. Yeah I'm not really a fan of the cover either... but it's a debut so I'll be reading it. I'm glad you liked it.

  6. Good review. I'm going to have to look for at the library. ^^ I love your blog btw. ^^ It has such awesome reviews.


  7. I'm really not crazy about the cover, either. Not sure why, but it just doesn't work for me. I'll have to check it out, though, given your review. Thanks!

  8. I just read this book myself and found myself having to re-read certain sections too. On the cover, I half liked it. The bottom half.

  9. I agree with you - that cover doesn't grab my attention at all. After reading your review, though, I'm interested in reading this book! It sounds fantastic.

  10. Steph, yay! I was holding my breath reading your review hoping you'd like it as I did so much. So happy you did! I agree on all points. It just got better and better.

  11. I'm excited to see that you liked this (and angie in her comment above says she does too, yay) so I have a feeling I'll like it as well. It's net up on my to read list!

  12. I just read this and absolutely LOVED it. One of the best books I've read in a long time. Thanks for a great review!

  13. This is a great review! I have to agree with you... the cover just isn't that great. It could have been SO much better! I really recommend this book as well!

    I'm also excited, because my interview with her is going up on my blog tomorrow :D


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