Sunday, June 3, 2012

Book Review: Nightspell -- Leah Cypess

                First, I must say that Leah Cypess is incredibly, delightfully nice. Since reviewing Mistwood ages ago, I’ve started following her on Twitter, and I’ve had the chance to read some short stories by her and give feedback.

                Which was awesome.

                I also won/was-gifted-for-reviewing copies of her books.

                And she did not just sign them, people.

                She doodled mythological creatures upon them. *-* I’ll put pics at the end of the post.


                Nightspell is a story that picks up quite a while after Mistwood ended, in a whole other kingdom (reminiscent of the progression of Graceling and Fire, by Kristin Cashore). This kingdom is very different than the one in the first book, most notably due to the fact that all murder victims come back as ghosts.

                The official, back-of-the-book summary:
Here be ghosts, the maps said, and that was all.
In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger—not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours.
Darri's sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister . . . if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom—not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else.
In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all?
                Even though the setting’s changed from the first book, there are strong ties between the two that come out as the book goes on. Fans of Mistwood will be intrigued by the reappearance of Clarisse, and will enjoy trying to figure out exactly whose side she’s on.

                There is a twist in Nightspell that I began to suspect early on, but that’s alright because there were a million and two other twists that kept me guessing at every turn.

                I find that Leah Cypess is very good about planting false leads—about giving every character their own agendas. Even when you think you know what’s going on, you never really know exactly what’s going on.

                Figuring out who can trust who, and uncovering hidden motivations is something that I find very enjoyable in Cypess’ books. Court intrigue and political maneuvering is something I rather enjoy, yet there’s also plenty of action, and knives, and—in a court half-full of ghosts bent on revenge—murder.

                I really enjoyed the premise of Ghostland, and yet I also enjoyed allusions to the plains tribes, and this whole other culture some of the main characters left behind.

                And then… There’s the ending.

                I wish things had turned out differently. And yet the slightly melancholy, bittersweet kind of ending suits Cypess’ writing, in my opinion. Even though it’s not necessarily the ending that I—or the characters—wanted, it might be the one that was needed.

                All in all, I found Nightspell to be a wonderful, intelligent book, and I would highly recommend it.

                Now, look at the pretty pictures!



                Pretty, yes? Have you read either Mistwood or Nightspell? Will you? Do you enjoy twisty, mysterious books that keep you constantly thinking, or is nonstop action more your cup of tea?