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 loyaltyâ€”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.
* * *
I’ve had my eye on Mistwood for a long time now, but a part of me has always dismissed it as a paranormal romance novel that I never had that much interest in it. It popped up in my radar last year again, and when I read the reviews, I had to admit my mistake on labeling it as paranormal romance because it’s not. Of course, the cheapskate in me then didn’t want to buy the hardbound version, so I had it in my wish list hoping someone would get it for me. Thanks to the Book Blogger Holiday Swap, though, I got a copy of this book from Tarie. :)
Mistwood is where the Shifter hails, a creature of legend that is bound by an ancient spell to protect the king of Samorna. When Samorna is peaceful, she goes back to Mistwood, but when she always comes when she is needed. Isabel remembers nothing, not until before Prince Rokan fetches her from Mistwood. She can’t remember what happened, what her powers were and she gets glimpses of memories that doesn’t make sense. All she knows is she has to protect Rokan, even if she feels that she can’t trust him. As Isabel tries to uncover the threats to her prince, she tries to piece together her memories and weave through all sorts of court intrigue. She can’t trust anyone, and when she finds out the truth, she wonders if she can trust the person she’s sworn to protect.
Mistwood is beautiful, in writing and in the characters. It was easy to slip into the kingdom of Samorna, which made it easier to focus on the characters which really made the story move forward. Like other readers, I was never sure who to trust — not even Isabel. I wasn’t sure who to root for, and I wasn’t sure who is telling the truth. I liked how the story tends to defy expectations — just when you thought you’ve had it all figured out, the author takes a different turn, keeping you guessing. I have to admit that there was a time when I just wanted to figure everything out once and for all and skip a few pages, but I’m glad I kept on reading.
However, I think this book kind of fell into the “I shouldn’t have read this right after reading really awesome books that blew me away” category. I liked Mistwood, but I think I made a mistake of reading it right after I read the first three books of Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series. It was kind of hard to shift from Sounis/Eddis/Attolia to Samorna, and I can’t help but feel like Gen was going to pop up in a page in Mistwood. That was my mistake — learn from it!
Still, I liked Mistwood. It’s very good fantasy, and if you’re looking for a standalone book to get lost in, this is a very good choice. I’m looking forward to reading its companion novel, Nightspell. :)