Saturday, February 8, 2014

Review: Death Sworn (Leah Cypess)

Death Sworn (Death Sworn, #1)Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Greenwillow
ARC Provided by Publisher in exchange for Honest Review

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.
But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world. 

Pre-Order Death Sworn Here:

Leah Cypess
I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).
However, I took a few detours along the way to becoming a full-time writer. After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother's importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I am going to be a published novelist. I am very excited about this!
I live in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with my husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and our two daughters.
You can reach Leah Cypess Here:

"The first step should have been the hardest. The cave entrance angled so sharply that one step was all it took: plunging her from light to darkness, from the fresh scent of snow to the smell of musty earth, from the touch of the breeze to the weight of dank stone. Ileni stopped for a moment, and not only to allow her eyes to adjust. Melted snow trickled down her hair and dropped on the back of her neck, and her skin was chapped by the wind, but inside the entrance to the Assassin's cave, the air was dry and still. She could hear the slow drop of snow melting off the rocks, but with her next few steps, she would leave snow and wind-- and sunlight, and falling leaves, and everything she had ever known--behind her forever."

....and that is how it begins. 

Ileni is a young sorceress who has been sent to a dark cave full of assassins-in-training in order to teach them the art of sorcery. The past two sorcerers that have been sent into the caves to train these assassins died under mysterious circumstances and Ileni intends to delve into the mystery and discover the truth behind their deaths. 

Ileni realizes before she even arrives at the cave that her magic is leaving her. With every spell and use of her magic she loses it more and more. She knows it will not be long before her magic is completely gone. She knows that she must discover the secrets of the deaths before this happens. 

The first person Ileni meets is a young assassin named Sorin. Sorin has been tasked by the "master" to protect Ileni while she is teaching in the caves. Sorin is mysterious, handsome, and deadly. I immediately knew that he would be the love interest in the story and loved it. He is strong and determined and yet completely obedient to the wishes of "the master."

"She knew this would end badly, It was so ridiculous and so doomed that she could almost despise herself. Except, except... except her whole life was ridiculous and doomed, so if a brief interlude of happiness had come her way, why not grab that? She had forgotten how good it felt to be happy."

The story is very dark and the scenery is written almost completely in the caves the entire time. I found this at times a little bit distracting. The world-building could have been a little deeper with more descriptive explanations of the world that Ileni left behind and what was occurring in "the outside world." 

Ileni is a sorceress and yet she is portrayed as somewhat weak and in need of Sorin's protection from other assassins during most of the story. I wanted her to be strong and deadly and learn to defend herself against these young assassins yet that did not happen. I have a feeling that the second book in the series may explore her character deeper and she will evolve into exactly what I imagine and what I want Ileni to be. 

Overall I enjoyed the story and the mystery behind it. Ileni was more a detective than a sorceress in the story and she discovered so many well hidden secrets. There were twists in the story that I didn't see coming and found them very enjoyable. There were characters in the book that will surprise you and some that you will find yourself urging to be punished. 

Fans of young adult, fantasy, romance, and mystery will find this book quite enjoyable. It was a quick read and kept my attention throughout the entire book. I am looking forward to the sequel to see what direction Leah Cypess takes the story and where Ileni goes from now...

*I want to say a huge thank you to Greenwillow Publishing (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. The quotes in my review were taken from an unedited proof of the book and are subject to change by the time the final print copy is released. "

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