Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 403 pages
January 5, 2012, Penguin Young Readers Group

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.

Source: Janet Lee Carey (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Tess was the daughter of the blacksmith living in Harrowtown, a small town in Wilde Island. She lived with constant pain and bruises given to her by her father. Because of this, she learned how to dodge fists, developed fast reflexes and feared and looked out for signs of anger in men. I found her easy to like. Tess was a girl who wanted freedom, love, respect and security. She was capable, independent, loyal and considerate. She was also talented when it came to drawing. But as a girl, she could never be an artist by profession. It was not allowed. The society and the rules that came with it bound the women – they couldn’t completely express their thoughts and follow their dreams. I cheered Tess on as she struggled to survive away from her home, with a burden on her shoulders. I was intrigued by her gift, fire-sight, which allowed her to glimpse the future through flame.

Garth, the man that Tess kept seeing in her visions, was an intriguing character. He was a woodsman who lived and worked in Dragonswood. I found him compassionate and helpful when he offered Tess and her friends to stay at his lodge. But Garth was also mysterious. He kept secrets and was careful with his words. His relationship with Tess was an interesting one. Both of them were careful with their words, keeping secrets while falling for each other.

The characters were very realistic for me. Each and every one of them had a good side and a bad side. No one was perfect and all of them, including Tess, made mistakes at some point in the novel. What really made me like her was how she tried to make up for her mistakes. She faced the consequences, the anger and hatred of her friends and the sadness instead of running away and making sure that she was safe. I admired her perseverance and her loyalty.

Fey and dragons lived in Dragonswood, a sanctuary set up by Queen Rosalind to protect both races. But in Wilde Island, not everyone wanted Dragonswood to remain a sanctuary. The fey in this novel were the classic faeries. They didn’t have the same concept of love, commitment and attachment like humans did. There was also a hierarchy in terms of magic. A child fey had to go through everything to learn magic and obtain power. The dragons were fascinating. They were wise, loyal and majestic creatures. I loved reading about their history, especially the ones related to the Pendragon royal family.

Fey, dragon and man were all set to keep the sanctuary safe but some of them just wanted to fulfill the ancient prophecy. Tess was swept up in the middle of it all. Secret after secret unraveled and plan after plan was laid out before her. Would Tess do what she’s destined to do or would she choose her own fate?

Dragonswood was a well-thought and well-written novel. From the language to the culture to the fantasy, everything was perfect. The author dropped enough hints for the reader to get an idea of the story as a whole. The story was good, starting from Tess’ point of view of her world before fanning out to the magical world of fey and dragons. But I was a little surprised with the somewhat sudden ending.

Dragonswood is a fascinating and dramatic story with a strong heroine in a world of intrigue, danger and magic. It’s a medieval fantasy treat for historical readers, fey fans, dragon fans and fantasy lovers. I highly recommend this!



  1. oooh so liking the sound of it

  2. Oh I cannot wait to read this, Precious!! The world building and mythology sound so good.... so curious to see how the dragons, fey and humans all combine together. And I love that you say the characters felt so realistic, love when they're so layered and flawed!

    You've made me more excited for this now :D Brilliant review!

  3. Woot this sounds awesome!!!! I read some lala-reviews but you seemed really to like it! I'm truly looking forward reading it!

  4. Wow, this one sounds fantastic! I especially love how the characters feel real: that's SO important in a book. Wonderful review!

  5. Oh it sounds truly wonderful. I'm adding it to my list for sure.

  6. Happy New Year, Precious!

    Thank you so much for your friendship! My year is so much better because I met you. Thank you so much for reading some of the earlier chapters of Taste and giving me your honest feedback.

    May 2012 bring you continued joy and much happiness. Continue your blogging awesomeness! Your posts are always a joy to read.