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Mistwood

I have been wanting to read Mistwood by Leah Cypess for quite sometime.  I love books about fantasy kingdoms with lots of palace intrigue and that is central to the plot of this book.  It was an engaging read which kept me thinking and guessing (usually wrongly) all the way to the end.
Isabel has no memory of her life before Prince Rokan finds in her in the Mistwood and brings her to his castle.  Everyone there is telling her she is the Shifter, an ancient immortal power bound to protect the kings of Samorna.  Isabel definitely posses extraordinary powers of strength, speed and agility but her abilities are not the stuff her legend is made of.  Snatches of memory come back to her as she maneuvers through the palace intrigue leading to Rokan's coronation as the next king.  While protecting her  prince comes naturally, she knows he is lying to her about something.  As more memories of Isabel's past come back to her, the strength and nature of her loyalty and very being will be utterly challenged.

The author did a good job of portraying to the reader Isabel's feelings of distrust, confusion and anxiety.  It was very hard to identify with or decide which of the characters were worth trusting and liking.  Isabel was torn through most of the novel and so is the reader.  Confused by feelings she shouldn't have and memories she doesn't understand, Isabel is relying on instincts that aren't entirely reliable.  She has no one she could completely trust because everyone is lying to her and she knows it.  I enjoyed the way all the characters were written with such ambiguity.  There were unlikable characters abounding, some with very little to recommend them, but the choice Isabel faces in the end is not an easy one (understatement of the century).  I was a little bothered by the resolution.  I agreed with Isabel's choice but not the reason that she made it.  I felt that it really did a disservice to her character.  Although the pieces are all there to lend some layers to her decision, I don't feel they were brought together as well as they could have been.  This opinion is also due to the fact that I had a hard time believing the romantic thread of the story.     

The book is full of mystery and intrigue.  It made for good edge of your seat reading, waiting to find out how it would all come together in the end.  The language used in the book is concise but renders the setting and Isabel's feelings beautifully.  It would make a really good read aloud for upper elementary students. 

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