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A Sorceress And An Assassin Walk Into A Cave ...

Magic meets killing for the greater good in Leah Cypess’ Death Sworn.

A Sorceress And An Assassin Walk Into A Cave ...

BOOK REPORT for Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah Cypess

Cover Story: Highish Fantasy
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: The Earth is Flat
Bonus Factors: Assassins, Not a Trilogy
Relationship Status: Surface-Level Attraction

Cover Story: Highish Fantasy

There aren’t any dragons or unicorns on the front of this novel, but this looks very high fantasy nonetheless. The ornate window/portal. The ominous tower. The crows/ravens flying from the ominous tower. The mountains and clouds and the title in a sturdy serif and all caps.

However, the majority of this book take place inside a series of caves. I suppose the designers thought a dark cover with images of stalactites/stalagmites on it wouldn’t appeal to the masses?

The Deal:

Illeni is a young sorceress who was once the most powerful magic user her people had seen in generations, but her power is waning. Because of this, she is given the dubious task of traveling to the Assassin’s Caves to teach the young assassins who study within the basics of magic use. What the assassins don’t know, however, is that being their teacher is only half of her duty—the other half is to discover what happened to the two sorcerers who taught before her and who died under mysterious circumstances.

BFF Charm: Eventually

Illeni spends much of Death Sworn lamenting the powerful girl she once was. Since she’s only 17, this “woe is me, my life is over” pity party gets kind of grating. I can’t begin to understand what losing such power would do to a person, but at the same time, it’s not like she’s physically dying. Illeni gets less pitiful by the end of the book, but it took a long time for me to get past her end of the world attitude and see the strong woman underneath.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Illeni begins the book brokenhearted, pining for a love she had to leave at home. He sounds kind of douchey, to be honest, because he dropped her like a bad penny after learning that she was losing her gift.

When Illeni gets to the caves, she meets Sorin, who’s been tasked with protecting her. He’s got a bit of a mysterious loner dude aura about him, but at the start, neither of them can really stand each other. Of course … feelings change.

Talky Talk: The Earth is Flat

Leah Cypess has a knack for telling a story in the present, but her world building leaves a little to be desired. From the first pages of Death Sworn, readers are thrown right into the action. We learn a lot about the Assassin’s Cave, but only the smallest amount of why the group came to be in the first place. Cypess also gives us a glimpses of lleni’s past and a little about the larger world she lives in, but it’s never quite enough to create a well-rounded plot.

Bonus Factor: Assassins

Although they kill people for a living, there’s something wickedly sexy about assassins. Cypess describes the way Sorin and his fellow students move as a kind of poetry, and I can imagine someone with that kind of power and grace would be hard to resist.

Bonus Factor: Not a Trilogy

Death Sworn is a duology, which means that anyone interested in reading the conclusion to Illeni’s story won’t have to wait five years to find out what happens.

Casting Call:

Zoë Kravitz as Illeni

Toby Hemingway as Sorin

Relationship Status: Surface-Level Attraction

Our first date was good, Book, but not great. I spent the entire night entertained by your story, but after you dropped me off for the night, I realized I didn’t really know anything about you. I wouldn’t turn down a second date, but I’m really going to have to ask you to be more open with me in the future if this is going to go anywhere beyond that.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from HarperCollins. I received neither a trip into space nor money for this review. Death Sworn is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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