Well, I was disappointed with this one. For one thing, I was hoping for a book about a shape-shifter. Instead I got a heroine who is supposed to be a shape-shifter but pretty much isn't. The Mistwood, along with the “intrigues of the court” mentioned in the description, are glanced over, but never actually explored. I still kinda liked it, I guess, or I wouldn't have finished it... but at the end of the day, all this book ever made me feel was, “Eh.”
The first thing that tipped me off about this book was the use of the mirror trick. You know, as a writer they always tell you not to describe your character by having them look in the mirror. It's hard to describe your POV character, sure, and it works when writing rough drafts. But if you see it at the beginning of a book, it's usually a sign of laziness. Often throughout this book, days at a time are passed over in a few paragraphs, which basically tell us that Isabel is good at getting information from people and playing court. It doesn't show us how. And every time someone feels something, it's told to us. “Anger crossed his face,” or some such. People don't give cues, we're just told what they're feeling. Which makes all the emotional moments fall flat. Description=failure.
Dialogue was also not the author's strong suit. Everyone sounds the same, their conversations feel forced whenever something important comes up, and the people think they're so good at keeping all of these secrets and getting other people to do what they want. And good old Clarisse is master at this game, because the author says so. Not. Because Isabel is so sweet and trusting, counter to the Shifter's given personality, she falls for Clarisse's tricks, falls in love with Rokan and Kaer even as they spit obvious lies at her, and still somehow ends up with the truth. Probably thanks to Ven—the only character I liked (even though he was an eager cliché of a character).
My only real investment in the book was in the concept: inhuman creature somehow losing the ability that makes her unique, invulnerable creature able to feel pain and fear. I wanted to know what happened in that past of hers, what made her run away... while the basics were obvious, the details were fuzzy, and I was hoping for a nice flashback or realization that went beyond those basics. (Spoiler alert: there are no details. You'll never find out what spell was used on the Shifter—it gave the badguys five seconds. That's all you get.)
The world around that concept, though, fell flat. I had a hard time understanding the magic system—sorcerers take so much time to develop spells but anyone can buy those spells and use them, and there seem to be an infinite supply of teleports in the world. How is that supposed to work? It doesn't make sense. Also, there's mention of politics but they have no substance. I guess that comes back to the “intrigues of the court” that supposedly exist in Mistwood.