Nightspell by Leah Cypess
Release (paperback): May 29, 2012
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?
Nightspell got a number of mixed reviews, so I was a bit nervous when I got a copy form Leah Cypess for her paperback promotion. What if I didn’t like it? What if I, in fact, hated it? This fear forced me to push reading it off, in favor of other books until I couldn’t avoid it any longer.
What Darri finds, though, is a rather withdrawn and not-so-innocent sister who has secrets of her own...
And fortunately, I enjoyed Nightspell!
Nightspell is the companion to Cypess' first book, Mistwood. You don't have to read Mistwood to understand and enjoy Nightspell. I didn't have to. Both books, however, take place in a very unique and interesting setting: Ghostland.
Yeah, my eyebrow raised at the name, too. A more unique name could have been thought up, but oh well...it is what it is.
Anyway, this world is, as you might guess, full of ghosts. But not just any ghosts. They are ghosts of people who have been murdered who can only be relieved by avenging their death. These ghosts can also take on very life-like forms (if they choose) making it hard to distinguish between the two. And now the delicate balance is strained.
Nightspell stars off with a bang. Darri, a Princess from a foreign country, has decided to travel and take the place of her younger sister, Callie (who resides in Ghostland as the promised bride to the Ghostland Prince, once she is old enough). Darri simply cannot imagine her precious and innocent younger sister in a land filled with the dead.
This book isn't full of action, but there are still many twists and turns that I didn't expect. For those who are interested in court intrigue and mystery, this might be the book for you. But I can't write a review without addressing some of the book's faults...
First, is a lack of connection with Darri. This story alternates between three POVs (Darri, her brother Varis, and her sister, Callie). It's safe to say, though, that Darri is the "star". For some reason, I didn't connect with her, or the love she claimed to have for her little sister. Neither was I convinced of Darri's supposed "barbaric" upbringing, according to Ghostland residents. My biggest gripe, however, lies with the "death" of two particular characters. I didn't mind their death, just their killer's motivation. Even after Cypess explains, I still didn't completely understand the whys and hows.
There is also a noticeable lack of romance. And actually, I'm glad that this differed from typical YA books in that way. Usually, though, a lack of romance ought to be replaced by a strong human bond/connection. The relationship between Darri and Callie was supposed to substitute for the lack of romance, but like I said, it fell short. It lacked depth. I was also somewhat disappointed by ending....
Sure, there are ways that Nighspell could have been more policed and the writing more effective. But I still recommend Nightspell to certain readers who enjoy fantastical world-building and ghosts.
AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY: Leah Cypess was kind enough to provide a signed hardback copy. Enter below to win, or head to your nearest bookstore for a copy. The paperback version is now out. Sorry, giveaway is open to only US entries. Winner has 48 hours to respond with mailing address. If I get no response, I reserve the right to choose another winner.