Isabel is a shifter. Not just any shifter, but the shape-shifter of legend who is supposed to protect the king. In times of peace she lives in the Mistwood, taking the forms of cat, deer, dew, and mist. Blissfully unaware of time passing and seasons turning, Isabel barely remembers her name or how to speak when two princes come looking for her on horseback. That future king Rokan requires her protection is enough to persuade her to return with him to the castle. But answering the call of allegiance to the king is a simple and almost primeval instinct for Isabel to follow. What isn’t so straightforward is Rokan’s sister Clarisse, the sorcerer Albin, his apprentice Ven, and the scheming royal court. Rokan is not all ears and is withholding information that she needs to protect his life. Clarisse appears ambivalent to her presence. Worst of all, now that Isabel is out of the forest she can’t remember how to shift, recall the mysterious circumstances surrounding her flight from the last king, or know if she will stay loyal. In fact she’s having a difficult time remembering anything, including the human emotions she seems to have now. Amidst all the confusion and misplacement, how will Isabel be the shifter she’s supposed to be and unravel the plot endangering Rokan’s life?
This read was an interesting experience for me. Initially all the unknowns regarding the shifter and the characters of Rokan and Clarisse and the little we knew about anyone else sparked my curiosity rather effortlessly. Likewise the enchantingly mysterious atmosphere of the Mistwood forest and the creature of Isabel swiftly drew me into the story. My curiosity was still piqued after Isabel’s arrival at the castle and her first meeting with Clarisse. It was when she’d been at the castle for several days and we were still no closer to knowing or understanding any of the characters around Isabel that I started to lose interest. Without really knowing who the shifter is and what her motivations were as well as any of the other characters made it difficult to form any kind of connection to them. Rokan was just a mold, and Clarisse, though contemptible and even suspicious was lackluster. As a result I couldn’t nurture real care and concern for them, and this indifference was enough to put the book down. When I did pick it up again however, a few more pages was all it took throw me a few bones and commit me to the story. Once I embraced being in the dark and the slow but steady plot development, I enjoyed Isabel’s self-discovery and the inconveniences of not being able to trust anyone – even the shifter herself. The winding unpredictability caught me off guard more than once and I contently accepted that all my guesses would be wrong. I was pleasantly surprised through to the ending, which left me sad to leave this world behind and already nostalgic for the Mistwood.