Death Sworn

Leah Cypess
Death Sworn
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Harper Collins Publishers
Release Date
March 2014
Fantasy Romance, Young Adult Romance

Ileni is losing her magic. And that means she's losing everything: Her status as the renegade sorcerers' most powerful rising star. Her purpose in life. The boy she loves. Her home.

Exiled to teach sorcery to the assassins hidden deep within the mountains, she expects no one will ever hear from her again. The last two tutors died within weeks of each other. As Ileni unravels the mystery surrounding their deaths, she'll uncover secrets that have been kept for decades—and she'll find an unexpected ally and dangerous new love.

But even he may not be able to protect her. Not when she's willing to risk everything.

Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
May 07, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
120 people found the following review helpful
Leah Cypess grabs the reader from the first page, first paragraph. You identify immediately wtih Ileni, with her fears and hopes and trepidation, and the mystery of her situation draws you in to turn the pages. Moreover, the author layers the clues like tidbits, inexorably drawing the reader forward in a compelling read.

In a treaty between their peoples, Ileni was sent to teach magic to a group of assassins living in a cave. In reality, she was sent because she was expendable to her people, and her real motive was to find what had happened to her two predecessors, who had died within months of each other. She discovered that the truth was not what it seems, and that the cave hid more secrets than she could've imagined.

The entire story happened in the caves that the assassins lived in, and the worldbuilding was amazing, in that the author can make the caves sound interesting and even beautiful, with the mention of the glowstones and the riot of colors when all the stones were lit up. I went to visit some caves once in Tasmania and I can understand how Ileni felt, how when she first entered the caves, as if she was being pressed down into the earth, the thought that at any moment, the mountains above would come crushing down and bury her alive in there. And how she'd crave the open air and the sky, after weeks of living underground.

The story was told entirely from Ileni's point of view, and it's a good thing I like Ileni. She was real, with her fears and frustrations and heartache and fatalism, and it's easy to like her and to root for her. She was the wildcard in the master's (the leader of the assassins) plans, having been once the most powerful sorceress of her people. But her power fizzed out, leaving her with no power at all, an ordinary. Why this happened wasn't explained at all; just that this could happen to anybody. I hope this could be explained in the next book, because for sure the story wouldn't just end this way! However, while some YA series seem to have books 2 and 3 for the sake of having sequels (though how this trend came about, I'm not too sure. Because if the first book wasn't that compelling in the first place, why would people bother to read the next books?), this wasn't the case with DEATH SWORN. There's a very legitimate reason for the sequel/s and I, for one, am looking forward to them.

Sorin was the dangerous assassin, feral and fierce, who was assigned to protect Ileni. He certainly caught my imagination! There was no insta-love between them, but instead they circled around one another at the start, until the inevitable happens. However, I wish there could've been more romantic development between them; their relationship could've used the additional scenes to cement their feelings for one another. As it is, I felt that their relationship was like a flickering candle, liable to be snuffed out at any moment. However, perhaps the author has plans for this and intended to give it more substance in the next book/s. I certainly hope so.

The story flowed well, and the writing was imaginative and interesting, the plot throwing out twists and turns that shocked and amazed. However, I do wish we could've seen more of Ileni's thought processes to support her actions, especially toward the end. That said, I've read some YA books, only to be disappointed at the juvenile writing and thin plot. This is certainly not one of them! I'm glad to have discovered this gem. A great YA read, one adults can enjoy and one I highly recommend. I can't wait for the next book!
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