Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Genre: YA Fantasy
Expected Publication: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow
Page Count: 352

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.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher*

I've never read any of Cypress's books before, but this one really caught my eye. Just look at that cover! It screams everything that I live for in fantasy. I was excited to read this book. Even the premise of the story sounds interesting. Except . . . after reading it, I have no idea what to think of it. There were certain things that made me enjoy the novel . . . and then there were other things that made me literally cringe.

To begin with, while I didn't feel as close to Ileni as I could, I liked her. Her flaw was that she made stupid decisions because she thinks very rashly, but that's okay. I could deal with that. You know, I've got to give her some kudos, though. She walks into this assassin mountain hovel and isn't as afraid as to be expected by others. I'm pretty sure, in her situation, without magic, a home, and stuck with a bunch of killers, I'd be a catatonic ball of hair and clothing on the floor while a pool of tears surrounds me. Also, she doesn't let other people push her around. She sticks to her ideas (however, dangerous and ill-planned) and follows them through.

While her stubbornness is a great quality for a character to have, sometimes I was left thinking 'Are you kidding me? Come onnnn.' Throughout the novel, her rash thinking and other various actions left to some mild annoyance on my side and had me not caring occasionally.

The biggest problem that I had with the novel was its romance. Alright, so I can deal with a forbidden and dangerous love fest between an assassin and a former sorceress. Sweet deal, if you ask me. However, the hot and cold feelings between the two of them was giving me mental whiplash. Sometimes, you could tell that there was some attraction, and within about .2 seconds (not even joking!) they're heatedly fighting with each other and hate one another, and I'm wondering how they could possibly end up liking one another because this didn't even look like a healthy relationship even to YA standards (and there are some pretty unhealthy relationships there). So obviously, there's this side of me that wants them to get all smoochy-smoochy and then in the next, I'm rolling my eyes.

Another thing that irked me (that mostly involves said romantic relationship) was the inconsistent characterization. I don't expect an assassin to have a really mushy and gentle side at the turn of a switch, so when he did, I was literally cringing at the book. Ileni also had some inconsistent characterization towards the end of the book that came out of nowhere and left me a little confused, but I won't divulge that here.

But in all, the plot interested me. Death Sworn has such a good idea for it and I am left wondering what will happen next. However, there were plenty of things that bothered me to no end. I was tired of the romance and the characters. At the end of the book, I just wanted some answers. Yet, I can't help thinking about this book. And this where I come full circle and once again state that I have no idea what to think of this book in the end. I can see that others have deeply enjoyed this novel and hope that others will too.

A confused and hesitant 2.5 Splashes


  1. I haven't read any of Cypress's books either though I'm not the biggest fantasy reader. I do enjoy them from time to time, though. It sounds like parts of it would frustrate me though especially the hot and cold romance. There's a very tight balance in that kind of romance where I either love it or get completely annoyed. This one sounds like it gets a tad extreme. And the inconsistencies in the characters is something I have been seeing more and more lately for some reason. Maybe it's just coincidence from the books I pick. Sounds like this one has a lot of potential though. Too bad it didn't hit its mark with the romance and characterization (which usually goes hand in hand). Great review, Millie!

  2. Ugh, this book was just awful. I agree with everything you said! That and the fact that the book was BORING. I was so bored I was falling asleep! *shakes head*


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