Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Mistwood

By Leah Cypess
Publication date: April 27, 2010
My rating: ***

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

My review:

I couldn't wait to read Mistwood because of the description and positive reviews I'd read. Some reviews compared it to Graceling by Kristin Cashore so I had really high expectations for Mistwood. I found Mistwood to be both promising and confusing. The suspense of figuring out who was bad and who was good and the mystery surrounding Isabelle kept me turning the pages. The idea of a being who could change appearance and shape at will was very interesting. Having Isabel be a character with limited understanding of her abilities was a great device to introduce the reader to a lot of information. It is new to Isabel just like it is new to us. It kind of reminded me of Jason Bourne in the Borne Identity film as he is reacting to his circumstances and surroundings on instinct without his full memories.

I couldn't always relate very well to Isabel's character. She had some amazing abilities and I liked her vulnerability when she couldn't remember things but she also came across as aloof sometimes. There were times when she would seem to empathize with the other characters and then she'd turn around and be cold and analytical. I liked Rokan more than I liked Isabel even when he behaved like an idiot. Rokan's sister Clarisse was venomous but I liked her character. It is apparent that she does not like Isabel from the beginning and that she is up to something. I enjoyed trying to figure out just what Clarisse was going to do and to whom she was loyal.

The resolution of the mysteries was quite surprising. I definitely wasn't expecting some of the revelations about the characters! I didn't completely buy into some of the things that happened and I felt that the explanation of one thing in particular was poorly done. I found the motives of some of the characters to be confusing. There were some poor explanations for why some of the characters did the bad things that they did. That is the main reason I was disappointed with the novel. As I read I was interested enough in the world and the characters to keep going but in the end I felt cheated somehow. I think this is the first book in a series so perhaps it will improve. What I did like about Mistwood was the strong female protagonist, the suspense surrounding the threat to Rokan, the mystery about Isabel's past and why she can't remember things, and Isabel's abilities as the Shifter. I thought all of that was interesting. What I didn't like was the way the book ended and that I couldn't always relate to the main characters or their motivations.

Overall I thought that Mistwood was promising but it didn't always deliver. I am hopeful that further books will provide more explanation and give us better insight into the characters. I gave this book three stars rather than two because I did enjoy reading it most of the time.


  1. I completely agree with your review. I was so excited for this book, but it definitely fell flat for me. Thank you for the honest review!

  2. Oooo o.k. I keep hearing opposing things on this one. Thanks for the awesome honest review.

  3. I always hear good things about Mistwood, so it's nice to know that it isn't perfect! Great review.

  4. Great review! I agree with you on many points, especially Isabel. I still enjoyed it though and really loved the setting, so I'll be crossing my fingers for a better companion novel! :D


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