Monday, July 25, 2011

Nightspell - Leah Cypess

Title: Nightspell (Companion novel to Mistwood)
Author: Leah Cypess
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2011 (Hardcover)
Length: 326 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: July 22, 2011
Finished: July 25, 2011

From the publisher's website:
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?

When I read Mistwood a year ago, I fell in love with it, mostly because the author not only knows how to write an awesome story, but she's a great writer too. Thankfully Nightspell, although only a companion novel and thus not including any elements from Mistwood (except one, but that'd be spoiling things), shines in the same areas that made Mistwood amazing.

Siblings Varis and Darri are the prince and princess of Raellia, traveling to Ghostland to marry Darri off to Prince Kestin and to exchange her for Callie, their younger sister who'd been sent off to the Ghostland court four years ago at the age of ten as a prospective future wife for Kestin. All Darri wants is to save her sister and bring her home, but unbeknownst to her, Varis has other plans she isn't privy to, and when they arrive and realize circumstances have changed, she'll need to go to extreme measures to follow through on her plan. But what if Callie doesn't want to leave....or can't?

Nightspell is a different book than Mistwood, it's completely darker and less romantic, but still wonderful. The author draws you into the world and the plot really quickly and gets you hooked right away. Nightspell is deliciously dark in a really creative way. Ghostland is populated by living subjects as well as dead ones, but the dead ones aren't quite ghosts, they can appear to have solid bodies and eat and can make their bodies respond in human ways, and what's even better is that no one can really tell the difference between who's living and who's dead (the dead can't even always sense that someone else is dead). In the midst of all this is the fact that someone in Ghostland is trying to kill Varis, Darri, and to some degree Callie. It's wonderfully creepy to read about them walking into an empty room and then having a ghost materialize behind their backs and put a knife to their throats. The plot twists are unexpected (at least for me they were), and really helped to make things more interesting.

If you read and liked Mistwood, read this! Even if you haven't read Mistwood, give Nightspell a try (you don't need to read Mistwood first to enjoy the story), the premise is creative, the plot is well done with lots of twists, and the author writes wonderfully, need I say more?

Thoughts on the cover:
Even though the two books aren't really related, I like the continuity between the covers for Mistwood and Nightspell (especially the use of purple). I love the image of the Ghostland castle at the bottom, the lighting and sunset around it make the picture look so cool. The image of Darri (I'm assuming it's Darri) at the top is integrated nicely among the stars.

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