Book Reviews

[review] Dragonswood – Janet Lee Carey


Release Date: January 5, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Finished copy received from Penguin Canada

Wilde Island is in an uproar after the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter with a hidden agenda whips villages into frenzies with wild accusations. Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of fate when she is accused of witchery and has to flee for her life along with her two best friends.

Not even Tess’s power to see the future can help the girls as they set off on their desperate journey, but she keeps having visions of a man wielding a sword. And when she finally meets him, Tess has no idea how to handle the magnetic attraction she feels for him, or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.

In this epic romance, an ancient prophecy comes true in a way neither dragon, fairy, nor human would have predicted.

Discovery: In the last few months, I’ve been really interested in young adult fantasy novels. With its unique plot and mix of dragons and faeries, Dragonswood seemed like a book that would give past fantasy stories a run for their money.

+    Fantastical elements. The saying “go hard, or go home” is something that fantasy novels need to subscribe to if they want to succeed. Dragonswood hit early and fast with its references to witchcraft, a mysterious and magical forest and the appearance of dragons. I didn’t have a hard time adjusting to the setting or the way the characters spoke. Carey’s prose is peppered with sentences that set up the mood of the book well. The reader is immediately thrust into a world where no one can truly be trusted, and you never really know what to expect.

The romance is just as beautifully wrought as the rest of Tess’ world. I loved the way Garth and Tess developed feelings for one another, and I especially admired how Carey took it slowly. Readers don’t need a love story that develops at NASCAR speeds–they need a relationship that they can believe in and Carey delivers.

+     Voice. Tess is a bright narrator, afraid but unwilling to succumb to that fear. She does things no regular girl should ever have to do, and she does them without a single complaint. Her courage is unmatched, which has the effect of making her friends Meg and Poppy seem less than worthy of the reader’s attention. I never connected with them as well as I did with Tess. She carries the story so well that I can’t imagine any other character taking her place. That strength of character is capable of making the reader believe in anything Tess says or does, and hope that she succeeds.

The final say: Dragonswood is the kind of story you read over and over again, because there is always some new detail that adds colour to its rich tapestry of words.

Rating: Very good.

Be sure to visit Janet Lee Carey at her website!

You can check out Dragonswood on Goodreads and order it over on The Book Depository.

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6 replies »

  1. This sounds really good. Fantasy novels are really interesting lately, glad to hear you’ve gotten interested in them! I love that you say this is a book that will be read over again (I love those books that you just have to keep going back to). Great review! 🙂

    • I like to alternate between fantasy, paranormal, dystopian and contemporary novels because otherwise, I’ll be sick of them. 😄 Thank you for reading!

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