Mistwood by Leah Cypess is a young adult fantasy novel. It is about a being said to be formed from wind and mist and with the ability to shape shift into whatever animal form desired. At the start of the novel, this being, the Shifter, is captured by the king. She is captured by a magical bracelet and the strength of her eons-old promise to protect the kings of this country. She goes with him to the royal palace, intent upon guarding him from all harm. She faces many barriers in achieving this goal, not the least of which is the secret the king keeps from her about the very nature of his kingship.
Central questions of this book revolve around the question of what makes a person who they claim to be. By what right does the king rule? What element makes the Shifter who she is? What is the nature of the Shifter? And who should you trust?
The story is well told. The descriptions are apt and make the reader experience the scenes being described. Perhaps the author did her job too well. I was simultaneously repelled and sympathetic to the character of the king’s sister. Also, I was confused about the nature of the Shifter until the author revealed information towards the very end of the book. The political intrigue is twisty and leaves the reader uncertain as well. I was pleased with the traces of romance throughout the book, but remain unconvinced about the depth of feeling behind the protestations of love, perhaps because of the political intrigue informing all the action in the story.
I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a fantasy. It should also appeal to readers who like historical fiction and are not averse to the paranormal.
On a side note, the cover of the book is really pretty. It’s hard to see in a digital image, but the blue background shimmers with a pearlized element. Its elusive quality mimics that of the Shifter. Also, the castle on the front and back of the book tickles me because it is the castle I visited in 1999 and 2005 in Segovia, Spain. It is often used as a stereotypical castle image. I love it!