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Nightspell Paperback – May 29, 2012
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“Transcendent and triumphant.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
About the Author
Leah Cypess wrote her first short story—in which the narrator was an ice cream cone—at the age of six. She has degrees in biology, journalism, and law, and has traveled to Iceland, Israel, Jordan, and Costa Rica, among other places. She now lives with her family in Maryland. She is also the author of the acclaimed fantasy novels Death Marked, Mistwood, and Nightspell.
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The characters of Nightspell are varied, though most are royalty and all are flat. I never seemed to care whether or not most of them were in danger or perfectly safe, because some-for example, Dari's brother, Varis-were detestable to me, and never redeemed themselves. I assumed that at some point he would grow into a better person, perhaps recognize what was wrong about his beliefs, but this never happened. I think that coming from my own experience, I was finding it unbelieveable that someone could care so little about whatever terrible fate their siblings fell to. I was hoping he'd at least get what he deserved.
And the ending barely resolved anything for me. The major conflict, which I was actually drawn into near the end, was never fully solved, just left as it was. Some sort of resolution was hinted at, and though sometimes I enjoy books that don't spell out everything that will happen after the action takes place, this just didn't do it for me. Some who were evil were never dealt with. Some of the problems they simply walked away from.
I did like the setting which was carefully constructed, so I have to acknowledge that. But most of the plot twists were easily seen before they happened, so there was little impact there, just a confirmation of my intuition.
I find it hard to see that these two books were written by the same author, let alone being set as companions for one another. I can't tell if my expectations were too high, or my tastes have changed since February, when I read Mistwood, but I know that I'm not entirely at fault. So I can say I will probably not be reading more by this author.
Callie, a very young Raellian princess, was sent to Ghostland to eventually marry Prince Kestin. Four years later, her older siblings Darri and Varis arrive at Ghostland. Darri will marry Kestin instead as they cannot afford to wait for Callie to come of age and form a crucial alliance. Darri, who had lived with the guilt of not stopping her father from sending Callie away, sees this as an opportunity to rescue Callie from the land where ghosts (abominations in the eyes of Raellians) roam freely. However, Callie might not want to be rescued and Varis may have a different agenda himself.
Nightspell is told through three (3rd person) point-of-views (Darri, Callie and Varis) so the narration switches off a lot. I did not really mind it for the most part because then I got the whole picture. However, I did not feel for or connect with any of them (or any of the secondary characters). There was nothing wrong with Darri, Callie and Varis but nothing really stood out either. I didn't truly empathize or care enough to root for their success.
Like I mentioned, the plot was complex. It's one of those where you have to read until the end to get the whole picture or to understand what is really going on. Sort of like Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road but set in a unique, fascinating fantasy world. I thought the author did a wonderful job with the world building. But the itself plot was slow-moving; it takes a while for something to happen to push the plot along. It was slow reading for me because of this.
And some of you all know how much I like a good romance in my reads. It doesn't have to be the main focus of the story but I like having even a hint of one somewhere. There is none in Nightspell and I can't help being a little disappointed about that.
Nightspell was interesting enough that I finished it but it wasn't one I was especially eager to pick up again after I put it down due to it's slow-moving plot, the fact that I didn't really care for the characters and lack of romance. Fantasy readers who do not mind that it lacks a romantic element may enjoy it as it has great world building, a plot unique and the overall the writing was lovely.
Written by Michelle for Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks book blog.