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3.8 110
by Leah Cypess

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The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwood. But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is


The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwood. But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.

Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sustained ignorance, hostility, and confusion are difficult narrative materials, and debut novelist Cypess does not always succeed in controlling them. Her heroine, Isabel, is the Shifter, a legendary shape-shifting protector of the king; she vanishes every generation or so and must be sought anew. Brought back to the court from her lair in the Mistwood, Isabel finds that her social skills rapidly return, but not her thousand-year-old memory. King Rokan claims to know from an oracle that he is in danger, but can't--or won't--reveal where the danger lies. Isabel must negotiate the intrigues of an adversarial court and glean what knowledge she can before the warning comes to fruition. The plot has some fundamental holes--how, for example, can a creature born of a magical culture ever have functioned as a bodyguard if she is sometimes unable to sense magic being used? Still, it's evident that Cypess is an able writer: the premise is novel, her characterizations ring true, and the emotional bond that develops between Isabel and Rokan will for many readers be the most important part of the story. Ages 12–up. (May)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“A fascinating tale of loyalty and love that female teen readers will devour.”
ALA Booklist
“An unusual, suspenseful fantasy that is propelled by well-placed clues.”
VOYA - Marlyn Beebe
The being doesn't know how long she has lived in Mistwood. She doesn't know her name, either, until the prince (somehow she knows he's a prince) finds her and snares her with a jeweled bracelet. Prince Rokan tells her that her name is Isabel, and that she must use her abilities and powers as a shape-shifter to protect and defend him and his kin from all harm, as he prepares to ascend the throne. He takes her to his castle and ensconces her in a suite of her own. She doesn't remember the prince or any of his family, but somehow she remembers what to do and how to behave. She realizes that she distrusts the prince's sister Clarisse and the high sorcerer Albin. Or is she just responding to their feelings toward her? Knowing she's a shifter, she attempts to turn into another creature, but is unable to. Is her power tied to Mistwood? When a young man tells her that the prince is an impostor, and that he must not be allowed to declare himself King, her memories begin to trickle very slowly back. Who is telling the truth? Who is the True King? Does the bracelet compel her to obey Rokan, because he placed it on her or because the throne really belongs to him? Debut author Leah Cypess has spun a fascinating tale of loyalty and love that female teen readers will devour. Young women will definitely identify with Isabel's quest for her identity, both real and figurative, but the book may not be as popular with young men. Reviewer: Marlyn Beebe
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—For centuries, the kings of Samorna have depended upon the immortal Shifter for protection. When the Crown Prince Rokan ventures into the Mistwood to find the Shifter, she again allows herself to be caught, to be tamed, and to be tangled into the deception and danger of the human court. The Shifter is uneasy, though. First she woke with no distinct memory of the past and now she finds that she is unable to change shape. As she adapts to palace life and painstakingly hides her inability to embrace her past abilities fully, she seems to become more the Lady Isabel as she is known in court, unwittingly displaying human emotions and hesitating in her bound duties to the crown. As Rokan becomes king, he is thrust into danger, seemingly from all sides. Isabel learns much more than she bargained for as she hunts among courtiers for conspirators and finds her loyalties divided. This story unfolds gracefully, mirroring the slow path Isabel must travel to begin understanding herself and her place in the world. Her journey in self-acceptance takes place within a country in turmoil. Fans of Megan Whalen Turner's "Attolia" books (HarperCollins) will be drawn to similar hidden political currents within the court, and fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling (Harcourt, 2008) will wholeheartedly embrace Isabel as a reluctant warrior heroine treading in unfamiliar waters of the heart. An excellent addition for all collections with a strong fantasy following.—Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
The greatest magic is the power of choice in this lush, romantic debut fantasy. When she was brought from the Mistwood forest and bound to Prince Rokan, "Isabel" knew her true identity to be the Shifter, the legendary guardian of Samorna's kings. She has forgotten so much else-how to fully access her powers, even the reason for her catastrophic failure to protect the previous ruler. Still, she can tell that Rokan is lying to her. A traditional premise is transformed into a graceful meditation on the ramifications of loyalty, duty and purpose. While the magical system and palace intrigues clearly occur within a wider world, the narrative unfolds its intricate puzzlebox of secrets chiefly to explore the compassionately drawn characters. There are no simple heroes or villains here: All are trapped between past and future, burdens and hopes; every one, with the most honorable of motives, betrays and is betrayed. Yet for all the pain and violence, the story is far from bleak-above all, it celebrates the agonizing glory of being human. Astonishing and inspiring. (Fantasy. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years


Meet the Author

Leah Cypess has been writing since the fourth grade, but before becoming a full-time writer, she earned her law degree from Columbia Law School. She worked for two years at a large New York City law firm, then moved to Boston, where she now lives with her husband and two young children. This is her first novel.

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Mistwood 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Isabel is the Shifter. She is bound to protect the kings of Samorna at all costs. When she is not needed, she resides in her forest, Mistwood. When they need her, she goes to the castle. When Prince Rokan comes for her in Mistwood, she does not remember why she had left Samorna many years ago. She also doesn't remember how to change forms. Isabel knows the prince needs her to be the Shifter. But she also knows that he is lying to her. The truth can change everything, and Isabel must make a choice. MISTWOOD is a beautifully written debut novel. Isabel is a confused character who in the end figures everything out. I'm not that big on reading fantasy, but I loved this storyline. I thought the idea of a Shifter was really cool, and the twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing on what was going to happen in the end. I didn't see the *almost* end coming, which always makes a good book even better. My only problem with the novel was the actual ending. I didn't care for it because it was very abrupt, and it left a cliffhanger. I really wanted to know how things were going to happen, but the story just ends. But other than that, as I said, this was a wonderful book, and I look forward to reading more by Ms. Cypess!
Emily Neil More than 1 year ago
bored to death i literally fell asleep it didnt have a good support backround
Burg More than 1 year ago
Talk about the author staying one step ahead of the reader until the very end! Leah Cypess is a mastermind in my opinion, she had me guessing until the very end. As her YA debut novel, Mistwood is sure to make an impression on readers everywhere. This was a story of mystery, intrigue, romance and danger and although Cypess presents readers with clues and puzzle pieces throughout her tale, I didn't stand a chance at putting it all together until she was good and ready to tell me. I will say that at times I loved that I was no closer to solving the mystery that is at the center of Mistwood, but it also frustrated me to no end. Her writing style and character development have set the stage for what I'm sure will be a fabulous future of upcoming releases from Cypess. The main characters in Mistwood were incredibly unique and fresh and my only complaint where they are concerned is that I would have liked to have been able to get to know them even better. Will there be a sequel? I think there's room for one and would definitely enjoy reading more about Isabel and the whole royal family. The ending left me torn. On one hand the surprises blew me away, but on the other hand I did feel like it was all wrapped up very quickly. And after having a mystery like this one last throughout the entire book, I thought it was strange the the conclusion really only took up a few pages. I'm hoping Cypess just didn't want to drag out an ending that wasn't meant to be the final glimpse we get, if there's a sequel in the works than I'm slightly happier and more understanding as to why the ending wasn't stretched out with more detail. With the paranormal genre being so popular at the moment and the repeated characters like vampires, werewolves, fairies, etc...being in just about everything it was a nice change of pace to see a completely new type of character. Isabel is completely unique and I for one do not want this to be the first and only time we see the shifter, more of the likes of Mistwood would be completely welcome!
GirlintheStacks More than 1 year ago
It was a rough start, flow a little choppy, but it recovered and in the end was an enjoyable read. Mistwood is a mythical forest and home of the immortal shifter, Isabel. The shifter's emotionless purpose is to protect the kings of Samorna, when needed. This time she has pledged to protect crown prince Rokan. She is an exceptional guard and very loyal, however she just can't seem to remember details of her past, is having trouble shifting and is full of emotions. Just who is the Shifter and why is she acting human? Where do her true allegiances fall? There are so many great characters in this story that are well developed and multi-dimensional. I pretty much liked them all, even the bad, evil ones. First off Rokan is a great name. I like saying it. Rokan, Rokan, Rokan. He was an extremely likeable character, though not very kingly, he was too nice. While reading the book I bordered between thinking he was a bad judge/good judge of character. I still am undecided. Though I do think he was smart, always thinking a step ahead. I really liked Isabel. She always kept a level head and had good instincts. She was true to her character. However, she had such an internal struggle throughout the whole book, which caused her to make some tough decisions. She was put into such an unusual circumstance, pitted against each other that no matter what she chose it would hurt. The biggest surprise and my favorite character from the book is Clarisse, Rokan's sister. She was evil, conniving, and resourceful and up until the very end you didn't know whether she was an ally or not. The storyline and plot were also fascinating and very original. I like the idea of a mystical forest where the mist can shift into various forms. My one complaint. Kissing. There should have been more of it. Oh, and I really dig the cover. A castle and fog equals my kind of story. Though, I am not crazy about the title font. I give this book 3.5 out of 5 STACKS for more reviews check out girlsinthestacks.com
AndAnythingBookish More than 1 year ago
This was UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING AND BRILLIANT. I am at a loss of words at how it left me. I never knew what was coming, and all the characters were so well rounded that they left me yelling at the pages when every chapter ended although I would have liked the secondary characters explored a bit more. I just HAD to find out what would happen next. Not reading it would be like an a drug addict quitting on drugs--bad comparison, but really, I couldn't stop reading. In all the pages, it packs suspense and mystery. It was rivetting going through everything Isabel went through throughout the book as she discovered herself. I never expected to like it this much, not to mention love it. Even though toward the end it became a teensy bit predictable, I didn't really care. The plot is indeed amazing with subtle romance and a great big hunk of mystery. Definitely appealing. I really recommend this to everyone! On the back of the book, it says "For fans of Kristin Cashore..." I could see how it was similar with a girl protecting a prince and all, but it is surely really, really special in its own way. I have been told not to compare books by completely different authors so I'll just shut up for now. Shift-shapers are now my favorite supernatural creatures!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This work captivated me in a way very few bookk have accomplished. Bringing forth the ever complicated themes of love and betrayal, revenge, suspicion and trust, this book has indeed proven to be a work of literary art. Highly recomended for anyone. This book starts out with mystery and keeps you guessing the whole way through. It was impossibk to put down. Although slightly confusing in som areas, the good outweighs the bad as this book combine the art of magic, mystery and action. Worth every cent.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
This book was a nice surprise. I think I found a new favorite author. Its nice that the story isn't dragged out as a trilogy but with this and the author's other series, its more of a 2 parter. I'm okay with that. Anyway Mistwood is one of those books that I've been wanting to read for a while now. I see it sometimes as a suggestion but hadn't gotten around to reading it until after reading the Death Marked series. With Mistwood I went in knowing nothing, my expectations low. I found this to be a really good book. What I like about Cypess's books so far are that the pacing isn't slow well sometimes but you don't really mind it. That and the writing makes up for it. The descriptions of what goes through the main characters and what they think of their situation and etc, is really well done. I also like the character of Isabel/Shifter. One of my new favorite characters who actually like does something isn't of just pondering what she'll do. But she shows she does have flaws and isn't sure of everything and I like that. Plus her scenes with Rokan. It was nice that it started off not as a romance but they merely talk and get to know one another. All the while question what they think they know about the other, etc and I like that. Nice of change of pace than the usual the two characters fall each other right off the bat or just stare at each other or something. Just when I think something will turn out one way it turns out the other so I appreciate that the book tries to take the story and characters in a direction even if you can kind of tell how it will end. But at the same time I don't mind that and like the book even more for it. Overall, loved it and looking forward to the author's next series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was absolutely disgusted by the conclusion of this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is an wonderful book full of twists and suprises that will leave.you on the egde of you seat. Although the book in whole was wonderful I think it was missing something that I just couldnt put my finger on. Perhaps it was the death of Kaer or the fact that Rokan ended up on the throne instead of Isabel. The book was very well writen it deserves at least 3 out of 5 stars!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book that when I started it I couldn't put it down. The plot and all the characters were very well created and the storyline kept you entertained throughout the whole book. The only complaint I have with this book is the ending. I feel like that it could have (and should have) gone differently, I'll not mention how because it would ruin the whole book for you. and I hate reveiling the contents of a book, or someone else that does that. You ruin the chance to get sucked into another story. Other than that, I have no complaints about this book.
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
I've procrastinated reading Mistwood for a long time; in fact, I probably wouldn't have picked it up yet if this hadn't been a prescheduled review. I wasn't a fan of the cover and even though the summary sounded cool, I didn't feel a need to pick it up. Do not make my mistake of putting off reading this. Stop whatever you're reading if you have this in your to be read pile and pick it up. Now. Yes, you. I mean it. Go pick it up. Mistwood has got to be one of the best books I have read since I started WORD - I know I said that about contemporaries and Deb Caletti's Stay, but I mean it about all the books I've read. Maybe it's because the book is fresh in my mind as I'm writing this and I haven't gone back to reread it and look for flaws, but damn, this was a good book. I mean, let's start with the plot. You have a Shifter who doesn't remember being the Shifter; she simply knows she is. You have the intricacies of the court itself and how the Shifter has to try to protect the Prince. And you have the prince lying to her. And then you have the most fantastic plot twist at the end that made me gasp and giggle and go, "That makes sense! Why didn't I think of that!?" Each thread of the plot came together in an unexpected way that still managed to make sense. I loved it. Then there's the characters. The Shifter (Isabel) was bloody amazing. I loved her. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed reading about somebody so thoroughly, especially in a fantasy; the characters are usually interesting but balanced with a good plot for which I prefer. But the Shifter was so decidedly unique that I loved seeing what she was thinking and how she was thinking and her development throughout the story as secret after secret came to life. The other characters - Clarisse and Daria in particular - were interesting to read about and see how they played the court and everything to their advantage. Isabel was the best, though. Maybe it's because I'm in excessive fangirl mode at the moment - I write reviews almost immediately after reading books - but this just worked it's way onto my favorites shelf. It's been a long time since I read a fantasy, especially young adult fantasy, with such a fantastic characters and plot. (And world! I'm cutting the review short because I can ramble on for a while, but the world and the Mistwood in particular were well crafted for such a short time spent talking about them.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. Enough mystery to keep me interested & fast paced action as well as just a touch of romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This wasnt likt the rest of ya and im glad for it. Enjoyed the perspective and the main character. If i had to compare her to another protagonist it would be katsa... or fire too. Good quick read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book alongside Enders Game, The nine pound hammer, Claire de Lune and Moon-Linked. I did'nt expect the ending. Hoping for a sequel.
Laurab68 More than 1 year ago
Prince Rokan is to be crowned king Samorna and will need the help of the shifter to protect his throne and his kingdom. Political unrest surrounds Samorna, so off to the Mistwood does he go to capture the shifter and bring her back to the castle. Isabel is brought to the castle in human form with a protective bracelet on her to protect the King and to keep Isabel in the dark as to the reason why she needs to protect the prince. Honestly this story is going to be hard to review because there are so many great twists and turns and the writing is lovely, although, my only problem with the story was the way the story was broken up. The first third is all Prince Rokan. We see him through Isabel's eyes, and she's starting to have feelings for him. This is something that should never happen to the shifter. They do not care about people, they only care about doing the job they are sought out to do. When Isabel learns that Prince Rokan's father staged a coup and toppled the previous King who the shifter was protecting, killing the former King's children in the process, she still knows that she must protect Rokan. However, during the coronation, the threat makes itself shown and we learn that the son of the former king did not die. He was rescued and sent away to plan for his own coup to regain the throne. Once Rokan is overthrown with the help of Isabel, that's when it got a little choppy. Rokan's story is somewhat over, and now we are watching Isabel with Kaer. The right heir to the throne. Throw in some magic that surprises just about everyone and now Kaer is worried that Rokan will try to regain the throne and kill Kaer. Especially now that they are holding Rokan's sister, Clarisse, who may or may not be privy to everything that is going on. Again, the jump was a bit confusing. Yet there is another twist! Which I will not reveal here, because, c'mon guys, I don't spoil! Leah wrote a superb high fantasy story with strong world building that will remind people of Graceling or any of Diana Wynne Jones' books.
Reader13LW More than 1 year ago
Good book that will leave you guessing. I didnt see the end coming. I fell in love with the characters and loved the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago