Thursday, February 20, 2014

ARC Review: Death Sworn

by Leah Cypess
3.5/5 stars
Greenwillow Books, 2014
352 pages
YA Fantasy
Scheduled to release March 4

Source: Received an e-ARC through Edelweiss from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a hard review for me to write because I liked this book but I didn't love it. I think there are a lot of cool ideas played with here and I read it pretty easily but I'm not left dying for the second book and I don't feel motivated to make people in my real life read it (the sure sign of a winner.)

The basic concept of this book is super cool. Ileni, the main character, is a sorceress whose power is diminishing and is basically sent as a sacrificial lamb to an underground tavern of assassins. She fulfills a treaty between their people, attempts to minimize the knowledge of magic that the assassins gain, and can investigate the death of the previous two wizards sent there. BUT, it's more complicated than that (isn't it always?) as Ileni comes to question her very upbringing, seeing the different philosophy of the assassins and how they are working to slowly chip away at an oppressive empire.

How can I describe Ileni? She's tough for sure with extensive reserves of inner strength. Her life has been dedicated toward increasingly complex magic but as she loses that ability, she loses the very essence of herself and she's not entirely sure what to do now. She's also flustered by a certain handsome assassin and his life, based around the Master's long-term plan and his ease at always facing death. She's clever, coming up with different strategies to compensate for her loss of magic and she's not afraid to ask questions as necessary. But she was a little tough to connect with for me-I don't know that I've ever had such a great talent as hers and thus have never had to lose such a thing. The other characters have some defining characteristics but do not receive the same definition.

I liked seeing the plot come together as answers were given while still setting up tension for the second concluding book in this duet. But I'm just feeling overall lackluster about it. You should give it a try if you've liked Cypess' writing before and if you want some fantasy in your life.

22 comments:

  1. I have the same feelings about this book and I believe I rated it 3/3.5 stars. It was good, but not fantastic - and it could have been! With such an interesting promise (and gorgeous blurb :p) this could have been so much better.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy

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    1. There were times I thought it was ticking up but then something would happen and I would grow less excited about it. I'm pretty sure I want to continue with the series though just to see how all this buildup pans out.

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  2. Great review sweetie :) Aw, I'm sorry you didn't love this one. I really, really loved it, hih. But I do understand what you mean :) Thank you for sharing. <3

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    1. I'm glad you can see my point of view even though this book worked better for you than it did for me. I can see so many positives for it but the overall piece doesn't entirely thrill me.

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  3. I've heard great things about this author, but maybe I'll try her Mistwood series first.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. I wasn't that impressed with Mistwood either-just to warn you!

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  4. It's so hard to write a review for a book that's good, but not anything you're passionate about.

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    1. I've had to do that for several titles recently and it does suck. At least when I dislike a book, I have plenty of reasons to list and I have some passion behind my words.

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  5. I liked this one more than you, I think, Stephanie. But it definitely started slow for me. I grew to like it more and more as it progressed--same with Ileni's character--at first I felt disconnected from her but now I am really looking forward to reading the sequel. I'm also excited that the next book sounds as if it will have a different setting. The caves grew on me too--I liked how the dark, claustrophobic setting set a definite mood and tone in the book--but i'm glad to see that the next book will be different:)

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    1. I was liking it more as the book progressed but it never recovered that early ground. The dark setting of the caves set a great tone-I'm not sure I fully appreciated that aspect. I do hope they leave the caves because I want to see a bigger world out there.

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  6. I'm super excited for this book! I didn't read your review because I like reading reviews after I read the book but I just wanted to say how jealous I am that you got to read it :)

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    1. I hope you love it-it just wasn't the title for me.

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  7. I'm reading this one right now and totally agree, I can't really connect with the main character. I feel like it has a lot of potential, but it's not one that I will remember a year from now.

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    1. I'm sure I won't remember this by the end of the year other than the fact that I keep track of all the titles I read. There have been books that have made a much bigger impression on me, both for good and ill.

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  8. The concept of it all sounds fantastic! But the fact that it didn't blow you away makes me think I should probably skip it. At least for now. I'm glad you still enjoyed it okay though.

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    1. I certainly wouldn't urge you to check it out but it's not a horrible fantasy so if you had some time, it could be worth a read. At least it's not too long.

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  9. I've been looking forward to this but sorry to hear that it didn't completely wow you.

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    1. I hope you do still give it a chance to blow you away-some readers have just adored this title!

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  10. I think I am going to enjoy this from the sounds of it. I'm glad you did. :)

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  11. That sounds similar to my reaction to her first book. I liked it, and I keep thinking about it, but it seemed like it was missing a little something. Still, given all that and your reaction to this, I think I'll give it a try. Thanks!

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    1. I think that's how I felt about that book too; I wanted to try her writing again since it was a new world but I think my reaction is pretty similar.

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