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I Belong

Review: Death Marked by Leah Cypess

Death MarkedTitleDeath Marked

AuthorLeah Cypess

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Death Sworn (Book #2)

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062221248 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13978-0062221247 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She trained the assassins in magic—and fell in love with one of them. And she discovered her entire life had been built on a lie. After all of this, she wants to see the truth for herself. She infiltrates the Imperial Academy of Sorcery. She will see everything she despises about the corrupt empire—its thirst for power, merciless control, and careless violence. But she also finds something she never expected—friends, and a place to belong. Ileni no longer knows whose side she is on. Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Death Sworn.

Quick & Dirty: I wasn’t altogether satisfied by the enjoyable yet incomplete-seeming end to this duology.

Opening Sentence: The mirror shattered into a hundred pieces, a sudden explosion followed by a cascade of jagged shards.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Ileni was shaped into a weapon. But will she accept her role in the brutal destruction of the Empire’s unjust ruling, and therefore let the craveful of ruthless assassins free? To help her make a decision she abandons her precarious life in the caves and her budding romance with assassin Sorin, in order to see firsthand the Empire and what she would be agreeing to destroy. But there isn’t one right answer in this battle, and as she makes friends with a royal sorcerer the black and white mindset she has been taught since birth begins to fade. Will Ileni accept her newfound destiny? What other choice does she have?

My feelings are somewhat confused about Death Marked. For one, it had the same amazing qualities that made me fall in love with book one: intrigue, complex characters, plot and character development. I love how this author’s writing remained the same suspense-building, unique style that I adored in book one. Ileni was incredibly realistic. She had lots of flaws, one of the biggest being her strong temptation to magic, even though she knows she is using magic that is not her own — magic gained through suffering and pain and death. But she also was brave, strong, and held her pride. The other characters were just as real, such as Sorin, who sees his love as a weakness, and Evin, whose kind heart is fighting against the empire’s cruel methods.

For another, there were new concerns with this story that hadn’t come into play in book one. These qualities included a more confusing plot, lack of a concrete ending, and slower pace. There was a lot of soul-searching in Death Marked and not as much action, lots of Ileni reflecting on the morals of everything. Sometimes I would have to look back at the previous pages (at least four instances) and try to puzzle through what had just gone down, since some plot twists were more implied. And the ending — the ending was what struck me as the most devastating mistake of all.

Ileni tries to figure out whose side she is on the entire book, and by the end, she’s really on neither. Since it is a duology, and this is the last and second book, I was expecting half the book to be a fight to end the Empire or figure out a new governing system. Instead we got a whole freaking novel of Ileni deciding what is right and what is wrong, and a couple pages at the end that imply what she plans to do to make a change. There is no concrete ending, no decided future for the characters. It’s like the final book of Delirium in that way. And it was very annoying.

I was also irritated with the romance. There is the beginnings of a love triangle in this story, but like the endgame of the Empire’s rule, it is only implied who she chooses. If you have a strong ship from book one that you’ll defend to the end, this book might grate on you. Despite my problems with Death Marked, I still found it to be an enjoyable book. I don’t think that it was as great as book one but I did appreciate the strong characters and original plotline. I will forever adore the author’s awesome writing style! Would I recommend this to fans of book one? Yeah, I suppose. I feel that there is redeeming qualities that make it still a great read.

Notable Scene:

Hundreds of lodestones, representing hundreds of deaths, hundreds of innocents tortured and murdered. Harvested for their power. She had grown up singing songs of mourning for those victims, swearing vows of vengeance.

In the caves, she had thought she was surrounded by evil, She had no idea.

That evil was nowhere near as seductive as this one.

Death Sworn Duology:

1. Death Sworn

2. Death Marked


FTC Advisory: Greenwillow/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Death Marked. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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