Nightspell by Leah Cypess

I enjoyed reading Leah Cypess’ debut novel, Mistwood, last year and I’ve been looking forward to her next novel, Nightspell, ever since. Thankfully, my friend Celina allowed me to borrow her copy so I bumped it up the TBR pile.

Here’s the summary from Leah Cypess’ website:

When Darri rides into Ghostland, a country where the living walk with the dead, she has only one goal: to rescue her younger sister Callie, who was sent to Ghostland as a hostage four years ago. But Callie has changed in those four years, and now has secrets of her own.

In her quest to save her sister from herself, Darri will be forced to outmaneuver a handsome ghost prince, an ancient sorcerer, and a manipulative tribal warrior (who happens to be her brother). When Darri discovers the source of the spell that has kept the dead in Ghostland chained to this earth, she faces a decision that will force her to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned – and lead her into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens the very balance of power between the living and the dead.

So I’m usually not a fan of ghost stories but I made an exception with Nightspell because of its intriguing premise. Besides, even if the Ghostland setting is a bit creepy, it wasn’t really scary. I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to ghosts, I don’t even watch horror films. I didn’t have to worry about that in this book. Darri travels to Ghostland, a country where every murdered person comes back as a ghost to avenge his or her death, only then could they move on. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way in the past hundreds of years. Most ghosts are content to just pretend to be alive instead of focusing on vengeance. They distract themselves with various amusements and the intricacies of court life. The dead would rather exist as ghosts than fade away into the unknown. Also, the ghosts in Nightspell only become insubstantial when they want to. Foreigners are never even sure whether a Ghostlander is alive or dead until they get confirmation. Darri, with her brother Varis, land right smack in the middle of the political conflict between the living and the dead in Ghostland. Add to that her shaky relationship with her both siblings, Callie and Varis, and Darri is one unhappy Ghostland visitor.

I’ve heard others say that they liked Nightspell more than Mistwood but I like both about the same. Both books are set in the same world but in different places and they share only one common character. Just like Mistwood, there’s also a lot of court intrigue in Nightspell and you never know when a character is telling the truth or keeping secrets. I did figure out one plot twist but I was kept guessing for the rest of the book and I enjoy that kind of suspense. I wanted to keep on reading until I discovered how everything fell into place. One minor quibble about the book, I didn’t feel like there was enough romance in it but maybe that’s just me. I’m kind of used to having a swoon-worthy male lead in my YA fantasy reads. Darri reminded me a bit of Harry from Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword because their names rhyme. Just kidding! It’s because Darri is strong-willed, loves to ride horses and is more comfortable in the company of the warriors in her tribe than with the courtiers of Ghostland. Recommended for readers who like their YA epic fantasy with a dash of political intrigue. I’m curious where Leah Cypess will go with her next novel.

Other reviews:
See Michelle Read
Book Harbinger

13 thoughts on “Nightspell by Leah Cypess

  1. That’s funny, I totally understand your quibble about the romance but I didn’t really mind. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I will admit that my favorite YA fantasies do have a bit more romance in them. So is she writing another companion book right now? I should look it up myself but I’m too lazy. :p

    • Most of my YA fantasy favorites have romance in them but Brandy (in her comment below) explained it better than I did. I think I would have been okay without the romance if it wasn’t there at all. LOL not sure if she’s writing another companion novel, it wasn’t mentioned in her website.

  2. I still have not read it yet. (Waiting on library.) I find it interesting that you didn’t like the romance. I felt that was a weak point in Mistwood too. I don’t mind when romance is absent. I mind when it is there and not developed well which was my problem with Mistwood.

    • Yes, that is exactly it! Hirondelle (not sure what her LJ username is) and I were discussing this on Goodreads and it felt like the romance in both books wasn’t fully developed. I look forward to seeing what you think of this when you can finally borrow it from the library.

  3. This looks really interesting to me! It reminds me of a short story that I once read online about a princess sent to an underwater necropolis. I’ve been looking for the link so I could send it to you but my Google-fu is failing me. :/

  4. So, I obviously didn’t read the synopsis of this book before buying it…I might have been a bit creeped out if I did read it (I’m a scaredy cat too!) πŸ™‚

    But, I’m glad you liked it. I’ve missed reading fantasy books with political intrigue.

    • Celina, you had no idea what the story was about? πŸ˜› That’s funny! But yes, no need to be scared of this one, I didn’t have a hard time getting into even though the book has several ghostly characters.

      I miss reading fantasy in general! That’s why I’ve been reading more fantasy than contemporary lately. I’ll try to keep it up in the next few months.

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