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.