Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

26 February, 2014 Reviews 31 comments

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Death Sworn by Leah CypessDeath Sworn by Leah Cypess
Series: Death Sworn #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on March 4th 2014
Pages: 352
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

From Goodreads

Death Sworn, what the hell happened?


I’m sorry, that’s harsh. You weren’t the worst and at a few points I really did almost enjoy myself, but the fact remains, you put me to sleep. Four times. Once would have been highly unusual behavior for me, but four? Something’s wrong.

Here’s the thing Death Sworn, looking back I can see you had a plot arc but while I was reading it felt like things were just happening. I didn’t buy the villain in the slightest, the romance seemed abrupt and jerky (did the characters even like each other before declaring the other irresistible and making out?), the twists and turns came out of no where in a way that was more wtf than clever, the MC whined ALL. THE. TIME. and the cult of kamikaze children aspect unnerved me (but less creepy plot element and more in a I do not understand why this is happening, but I know I don’t like it).

Wow, put that way, I look a little annoyed, don’t I?

The thing is, I didn’t hate you, I just didn’t particularly like you either. You didn’t give me a chance to get engaged. You spent so much energy on your descriptions, I never felt like I got to know your characters (although, thanks to you focus, I had a very attractive picture of Sorin and the way he moves fixed firmly in my head from the first chapter).

Ileni could’ve been cool I guess, but she spent more or less the entire book focused on the loss of her magic (and Terris, which, what the hell? Why? You could take out every reference to him and it wouldn’t affect the rest of the book at all). Instead of making her a sympathetic, brave little toaster, which I believe is what you were going for, it made her whiny and repetitive. You could argue that I should’ve know from the summary that the loss of Ileni’s magic was going to be traumatic for her, but I didn’t expect it to be so much of her focus.

I’m not sure if the plot didn’t make sense or I kept zoning out and missing the connecting bits, but I do know that the villain was downright laughable. You expect me to believe that an old man, who as far as I can tell, never leaves his study, is so fearsomely smart, far-seeing and badass, he not only doesn’t get immediately killed by the HUNDREDS OF ASSASSINS ALL AROUND HIM, but is so awe-inspiring to his cult that these kids (KIDS) willingly kill themselves simply because he tells them to? No, not buying it, not even a little bit.

That was basically your problem, Death Sworn. I didn’t buy it. There were a few too many ‘wait, what?’ moments.

(The following scenarios have been extremely paraphrased)

Example 1:
Kid, jump out the window so I can show this random teenage girl who clearly won’t say boo to a ghost and that I already have total authority over how badass I am.
Random, brainwashed child: Okay. *jumps*
Wait, what?

Example 2
I’d like to teach you how to defend yourself because you are surrounded by trained killers who all hate you for inexplicable reasons and you are clearly incapable of defending yourself.
Ileni: Nooooo fighting is bad and weapons are dirty, I will use the magic I’m rapidly losing to feebly protect while I decide whether or not I actually have a death wish because I can’t seem to stay consistent on the issue.
Wait, what?

Example 3
Even though I have mostly ignored you while being an inscrutable stone wall of a person, I actually like you an inconvenient amount and plan to sleep with as many women as possible to get you out of my head.
Ileni: Seems legit, let’s make out.
Wait, WHAT?!

Example 4
Just kidding! Fade-to-black make out scene because ew! Gross! Cooties!  SERIOUSLY BOOK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING AND WHY?

*sings* Tell me whyyy (ain't nothing but a miiiistake)

This is the part where I’d like to summarize my feelings, but I don’t really have many about you, Death Sworn. You had some charm, but not enough for me to forgive your flaws. Don’t feel too bad, plenty of other people really liked you, I just…didn’t. I wish you the best of luck in future endeavors, maybe your sequel will blow me away, but for now I think we should part with grace and whatever dignity we have left and go our separate ways.


(Totally unrelated, in the course of my research I came across my favorite of all the early 2000s boy band dance moves and I wanted to share it with everyone:

Backstreet Boys dancing

Enjoy the rest of your day.)

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

31 Responses to “Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess”

    • Meg Morley

      This is my first Leah Cypess, but I will take your word for it. I was so sad, MAGIC AND ASSASSINS. HOW COULD THAT NOT BE AMAZING?!

      • Anonymous

        Donno if u tried it yet, but magic and assassins or should I say assassins and magic can be found in Sarah J Maas Throne of Glass series.
        I’m trying Death Sworn right now, I’m an hour in and already my attention is floating around…but I still hope it’ll get better. ^_~

    • Meg Morley

      I hope you like it, a lot of other people did. I haven’t read Mistwood so I have no idea how it compares.

  1. Ellis

    Oh okay, we’re bringing the piemel synonyms with this one. Got it. I am ready. (The luls. I’m talking about the luls.)

    Hehe, the romance was jerky. Oo-er. Luls, there you are. Okay, so I get wanting to create a hate-to-love relationship or forcing reluctant people to admit that yes, they do have emotions, and um, they might possibly have said emotions for each other. I love it, especially the last one, when it is done right. This just sounds like a big ‘ole mess, though.

    Kamikaze children. That’s Christina’s biggest nightmare right there.

    I am so confused. Even just summarising this books shows how random and disjointed the “””plot””” line is. I know when you told me you’d only read 30% in four days or so and that you’d fallen asleep repeatedly. I was shocked – still am, btw – but I guess it shows just how much this book didn’t hold your attention. BOOO. Bad book.

    “Nooooo fighting is bad and weapons are dirty, I will use the magic I’m rapidly losing to feebly protect while I decide whether or not I actually have a death wish because I can’t seem to stay consistent on the issue.”

    Are you fucking kidding me? How is she not dead? GIRL. PRIORITIES.





    Because no one will break you out. Because not only should you be dead by this point – I mean, seriously, look at your attitude, you should be dead – you are endangering the people around you because FOR SOME UNFATHOMABLE* REASON they put their trust in you. So the math cage it is. To protect you from yourself and also to protect the world.

    *And I’m talking unfathomable as in Delirium!world Is Out Future unfathomable. I don’t care what the book shimmy awards say, a dystopian based on thou shalt not love is not realistic and if you think it is, you have issues and also you need help.

    Somehow these gifs make me think of Shane West. Hmmmmm.

    “I came across my favorite of all the early 2000s boy band dance moves.” —> YES

    “I wanted to share it with everyone.” —-> THANK YOU
    Ellis recently posted…Rewind Topic: Top Ten Things On My Reading WishlistMy Profile

    • Meg Morley


      This was not hate to love done right this more like ignore ignore ignore I HAVE FEELINGS LET’S MAKE OUT ignore ignore I LOVE YOU weirdness end of book. Okay then, I totally feel like my romantic needs were fulfilled.

      The plot is just a series of things happening. There was kind of an arc? Maybe? But it wasn’t apparent until I was thinking about it after. I was kind of surprised (and relieved) when I got to the end. Like oh, hey, we’re doing this now, that’s cool.

      Ileni’s priorities are fucked. We should keep her in a math cage for her own well being. She’ll be stuck because I doubt she can break herself out and who the hell knows if Sorin will care enough to help and everyone else in the book inexplicably hated her. I say inexplicable because they instantly hated her before she had a chance to do anything worthy of hating.



  2. Nikki

    Great big YES to this whole review. You didn’t miss anything – the plot made no sense. Ileni had zero backbone for 90% of the book; the kamikaze children were totally unbelievable; and the villain was annoyingly all-knowing and boring. And the romance was just… blah. No feels. For anything. NO FEELS. 🙁
    Nikki recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Plus OneMy Profile

    • Meg Morley

      Glad you enjoyed the review, and yes, skipping was probably a good call unless you enjoy going out of your way to find boredom.

  3. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I FUCKING HATE MY LAPTOP (it’s actually a very good laptop but this stupid thing happens when you scroll upwards that makes it go back and thus erasing my entire badass comment. Dang flabbit!)

    I’m pretty sure Terris is a person, but when I first read that name I thought it said Tetris and was so confused because I was like, “I don’t think a really weird-slash-addicting game is in this book,” like the wonderfully intelligent person I am. And if I ever have to read this book, I think I’m just going to rename the villain the Joker because he’s laughable which makes me think of funny things which makes me think of jokes which makes me think of the antagonist to Batman (or was it Spiderman? One or the other, I’m not very familiar with my superheroes lol!)

    Anywho, definitely gonna be avoiding this one! Although I do like the sound of my very own brainwashed child to help prove the point of my position of authority and dignity in the world. Definitely like the sound of that! Also, I’d make him or her make me food and at the same time burn off fat for me. That’d be the total life.

    Fantastic review, Meg! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Nil by Lynne MatsonMy Profile

    • Meg Morley

      AHHHHH COMMENT LOSS. Been there, done that, flipped out and threw things. I feel your pain is what I’m trying to say.

      Terris is a person who exists totally (and COMPLETELY POINTLESSLY) in Ileni’s memory. But ha! Tetris! Mmmmm, Tetris, good game.

      You are correct, Joker is one of Batman’s nemesi, however he is far more interesting and complicated than this villain (at least, based on his actions in the book, supposedly the Master is totally badass but HOW? WHY? I DO NOT BELIEVE IT, BOOK)

    • Meg Morley

      YES. The creepy cult thing bothered me so much, it would have been weird and disturbing even if it had an explanation to go along with it. Ileni could’ve been so great if she’d crawled out of her pit of self-pity, but alas, she did not.

  4. Nyx @ Unraveling Words

    Your comment about the badass villain made me chuckle cause it brings to mind the way he went down, which is LAUGHABLE. I mean seriously? The man is omniscient, has everything planned out to the the last dot, and he didn’t see that one coming? And from a teenage girl with no magic? Just no.

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