When Darri rides into Ghostland, a country where the living walk with the dead, she has only one goal: to rescue her younger sister Callie, who was sent to Ghostland as a hostage four years ago. But Callie has changed in those four years, and now has secrets of her own. In her quest to save her sister from herself, Darri will be forced to outmaneuver a handsome ghost prince, an ancient sorcerer, and a manipulative tribal warrior (who happens to be her brother). When Darri discovers the source of the spell that has kept the dead in Ghostland chained to this earth, she faces a decision that will force her to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned - and lead her into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens the very balance of power between the living and the dead. (Publisher's Summary from Goodreads)
Leah Cypess takes ghosts to a whole new level in her exciting new novel Nightspell. To say I was spellbound by the world of Ghostland only touches the surface. While this is an extremely plot driven story Leah’s characters added layers of complexity and surprising twists that kept me riveted until the very end.
The plot is greatly dependent on the setting in Nightspell, which is so unique that I truly marveled at Cypess’s imagination. Ghostland is a kingdom where both the living and dead tenuously co-exist. The ghosts have the ability to be substantial, drinking and eating with those who are alive. The tenuous existence is because the ghost have all been murdered and unless their deaths are avenged, they are stuck living a nonlife in Ghostland. While the main conflict revolves around Darri’s need to rescue her sister, Callie, who was sent to Ghostland to marry the King’s son, it soon becomes evident, that a lot of political intrigue surrounds Ghostland, and if Darri is to save her sister and herself, she must break an ancient spell that binds the dead to Ghostland’s earthly plane.
Darri is an interesting character. Ever since her little sister, Callie, was sent to Ghostland by their father, Darri has thought of nothing else but saving her, which for the most part is both a strength and her greatest weakess. Darri is as fierce at riding and fighting as any man, including her brother, and has little regard for her father’s politics. Sadly, once she arrives at Ghostland, she finds Callie very different than the little sister she once tried so hard to protect. It is hard for Darri to understand how living with the ghosts and the court’s subterfuge has left its toll on Callie, and it clear that Darri has much to learn about Ghostland including how to keep from being killed herself. As Cypess carefully reveals the various subplots involved in this tale, I was amazed at the intricacies that went into the scope of the story, and just how difficult it was for Darri overcome her guilt and forgive herself.
Callie was also an engrossing character. Cypess’s use of third person omniscient point of view allowed the reader to see what four years of living in Ghostland was like, and just how much it affected Callie’s growth, from an innocent girl to a jaded and unfeeling young lady. In many ways, Callie blames Darri, for not saving her from being sent to Ghostland in the first place. She is cold to Darri and her brother. However, she does still care enough about them to save their lives. Callie is a very complicated character, and while at times I felt sympathetic towards her because of having been sent to Ghostland so young, I also felt angry at her coldness towards Darri, who was not to blame for her situation.
The story moves at a steady pace and build suspense for the reader all the way through. It also left me wondering how things would evidently play out. The climax was thrilling and the end unexpected. I was truly engaged throughout the book and left thinking what a fantastic and original ghost story Nightspell truly is.
Source: Received an ARC copy of Nightspell from publisher