Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review of Mistwood

Mistwood by Leah Cypess
Pages: 304
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: April 27, 2010
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads says, "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 Mistwod.  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."

You know when you first hear about a book and you think to yourself......Yes, this book sounds perfect for me.  I need to pre-order it immediately.  Then you anticipate its arrival, read amazing reviews from bloggers, and then finally you get the book!  You tear open the package and the excitement is nearly killing you.  But that's when things change....when you actually read the book.  Hmmm.  It isn't what you thought it was going to be like.  (It's like a bad blind date where the person you were meeting up with claimed to an entrepreneur, but actually works at Subway.) You give the book the benefit of the doubt and you put the book down in order to re-read parts of it later, hoping it's just you in a funk.  But you realize after all this melodrama that the book really isn't for you.  Unfortunately, I'm just not that into you....err...Mistwood.  Who can relate to this?  This was my experience with Leah Cypess' debut novel, Mistwood.  The premise, the book trailer, and the cover all sounded/looked amazing to me, but when I finally got my hands on it and read it, it fell unbelievably short.  

Isabel, the protagonist, is a shifter that protects the kings of Samorna and will for centuries as she is an immortal, mystical creature that is bound to protect the royal family.  I enjoyed the character of Isabel and the many issues she faced as a shifter.   For example, she suffers from a type of memory loss in which she can't recall some of her former powers.  Reading about how she is going to handle this conundrum was entertaining as well as her relationship with the king.  However, the character development, for me, was weak. I was not invested in the characters and I couldn't connect to them.  When I read a book, I want to be involved and rooting for the protagonist, but there wasn't enough back story for me to feel emotionally attached.   Unfortunately, the characters were one-dimensional and on top of that, the first half of the book was pretty bumpy.  I wish Cypess would explain more about the history of the shifter and the legend as I found that to be the most fascinating part.

Don't get me wrong.....there are some things that I do like about this novel.  It should be noted that after the first half of the book, things truly picked up.  I was pretty intrigued towards chapter fifteen or so and I thought Cypess did a good job developing the mystery.  As I said before, the premise is amazing and I wanted to enjoy this book, but I have to be honest with my review.  I also thought the setting was incredible; I kept visualizing Ireland in my head as Cypess described the castle and the surroundings.  In fact, I wish she would have developed the historical fiction aspect of the book a bit more, because the castle and Mistwood itself was pretty interesting.  

I feel like this book had a lot of promise, but for me, it just didn't click.....much like that bad blind date I was referring to before.  Some parts of the novel worked together beautifully and then other parts completely fell off track.  For example, one chapter I'd be hooked and then the next chapter would fall short for me.  I found myself cheating on this book with other books that I had a strong connection with (Ahhemm....City of Ashes) and I just couldn't get into it.

However, I have a strong feeling that this book would be enjoyed by younger teens/tweens. I will be, without a doubt, sharing this book with some of my younger students as I think it's is right up their alley.  I feel that I could comfortably recommend this book to my students without worrying about anything controversial, which is nice, because lately that hasn't been the case.   I also think fans of Kristin Cashore may enjoy this book, but be forewarned, Cypess has very large shoes to fill.   If you were hoping for a mind-blowing read filled with fantastical elements and a love interest, you are unfortunately pining after the wrong book.  If you want something fun and in the same neighborhood of Cashore, definitely pick Mistwood up this summer.  I have been reading more positive reviews than negative and perhaps it's just that simple case of I'm just not that into it; whereas, this book may be someone else's literary soulmate.  To each its own.

*You should decide for yourself if this is a book you'd like. Read the first three chapters here.  

*Buy the book here:  Mistwood

Watch the book trailer:


  1. Aw, how disappointing. I'm going to check out the first three chapters and see what I think.

    This has certainly happened to me with books. Firespell sounded pretty much like my perfect book, and then I read it and didn't connect with it at all. Also, I disliked 'The forest of hands and teeth' which is one everybody else I know loved.

  2. I've been let down with a few books as well, that I thought were going to be ones I would like. I was thinking of getting Mistwood when it first came out, but then I ended up choosing a different book. I'll probably get around to reading this eventually.

    I love how you compared it to a blind date. Great review!

  3. Thanks for the honest review! I had a hard time with Graceling so maybe this is one I'd have a hard time with as well. I did LOVE Fire though, so who knows. I'll have to make sure its one I get from the library though. I've only saw one other review and it was 3 stars. Good, but not great.

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys! Leanna- I'm glad I am not alone with this experience! Adriana- Thanks! :) Candace- I definitely want to read Fire- I've heard such great things! Thanks for visiting my blog!

  5. Awww, I'm sorry this one disappointed you, that's never fun when your expectations are so high.

  6. Sorry to hear that it was dissapointing! I feel the same way about the book that I just read, it looked and sounded really good, but I couldn't connect with any of the characters. I hope the next book you read is going to be off the roof. LOL :)

  7. Yowsa! LOL I love your honesty in this review. My copy was dispatched today. I have been looking forward to this book for so long so I will give it a good shot. At least my expectations are lower now so that should work in my favour. Maybe because City of Ashes was so good it took a little of the magic of this book away? Maybe?

  8. Thanks for your comments, Carrie, Nina and Becky.

    Becky- I was really looking forward to it as well. Perhaps I was in a fog from City of Ashes....definitely a possibility! I'll be interested to see what you think. I hope you enjoy it!

  9. I have a little something for you over on my book blog:

  10. Yes! I had an experience like that back in February with a book that I heard so many good things about and then I ended up despising it in some ways. I don't like that feeling. :( Luckily it doesn't happen very often and when it does I know other people will enjoy it. (I don't know why I tend to feel bad or guilty when I don't like a book. What's up with that?)

    On a side note, you named two authors/books in this review that are some of my top fave YA all time: City of Ashes and Kristin Cashore. :D

  11. I am glad that you suggested that people should try the book to see if they like it more and that you plan to suggest it to your students. It is very possible that teens would enjoy it more than we did. Since I am an adult who reads YA I am probably expecting different things from the books I read than when I was a teen. I bet I would have loved Mistwood then.


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