Nightspell by Leah Cypess

Title: Nightspell
Loved it
Author: Leah Cypess
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 2011
Elements: Ghosts, political intrigue
Series: Part of the Mistwood universe, companion to Mistwood

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?

I don’t know how Leah Cypess does it. You know, churn out one book after another that doesn’t really have any romance, but have character interactions that make me swoon with the banter and the possibility of romance.

This is the companion novel to Mistwood, set in the Mistwood universe, but probably nowhere near where Mistwood the book was set as it consists of absolutely different mythology and history of the land. The most interesting aspect of Nightspell, were the two new cultures introduced. Both these cultures are unique, but they have aspects that are similar to us.

1) Ghostland, where most of the book takes place. Here, the living and the dead cohabitate, the dead as spirits rather than zombies ala Torchwood: Miracle Day. They live in a normal society, similar to kingdoms we see here, the difference being that death being a necessary hurdle into immortality. Then it’s a never-ending party for those who once lived, with the court and palace being one big playground.

2) Darri’s land. They are self-proclaimed barbarians, both in lifestyle and way of managing their empire. They live in tents on the plains, hunting is a hobby, etc. Where the ladies at court in Ghostland play the dangerous game of seduction and secrets, Darri is a warrior princess, a Xena in her own right. On the topic of ghosts, however, her people are similar to us: ghosts are unnatural. People that are dead should stay dead, and not have their spirits linger. The fact that they can solidify at a thought and trick foreigners is horrible to Darri, and to me as well.

When these two cultures clash, it’s because Darri, daughter of the ruler of  has been sent to wed the prince of Ghostland. And in the process, save her little sister Cassie, who was sent there years before for the first failed political union.

I loved that I learnt so much about the two different cultures, and come out understanding both lifestyles and not siding with either one.

I’m intrigued by Darri. She’s strong, and at times brash compared to the cultured elegance of Ghostland, but what struck me the most was that she stayed true to herself, which is the refreshing and at times, I felt relief at not being part of the court intrigue and politics.

This is not a pretty book, with loose ends that are tied. This is a book that shows us almost gently, what we don’t want to acknowledge: that uncertainty of what happens after death will stay, and most importantly, we can’t cheat death. It’s bittersweet.

  2 comments for “Nightspell by Leah Cypess

  1. Sunday, 25 December 2011 at 1:45 PM

    I loved Mistwood and just got a copy of Nightspell. I hope she can repeat the magic of the first book here.

  2. Sverige
    Sunday, 20 May 2012 at 4:55 PM

    I thought reading books like this will be boring or something, but when I started reading and fall in the characters, I realized that I’m starting not just to like it but I fell in love with the book.

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