Sunday, December 18, 2011

Early Review - Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey (5/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 416 pages
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: January 5, 2012
ISBN: 978-0803735040
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd in the Wilde Island series but stands alone well
Source: ARC from Librarything Early Reviewers Program
Rating: 5/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through the Librarything Early Reviewer's program. This was an absolutely stunning book. I loved it from page one and couldn't put it down, I was sad when I finished it because I wanted to read more. This is the second book written by Carey that takes place in this world, but the story is a separate story from the first book (Dragon's Keep) and stands very well on it's own. I never read the first book but now I really want to.

Tess is a blacksmith's daughter in a small town. Tess is drawn to the Dragonswood forest (which she is forbidden to enter) and occasionally has visions of the future when she looks into fire. Her father is abusive and Tess flees to the woods at night to escape him. When a noblewoman arrives in town Tess is intrigued but not concerned; that is until Tess and her friends are accused of witchcraft and forced to flee. The adventure will lead Tess deep into Dragonswood and into intrigue and adventure beyond her wildest imagination.

I loved this book. The book kind of goes through two phases the first part has a very medieval feel to it with witch hunts and humanity living somewhat in misery and fear of the unknown; there is the occasional appearance by a wondrous dragon but they aren't a huge part of the story. As Tess spends time with Garth and her friends in Dragonswood the tone of the story changes. The story becomes more about magic, intrigue between magical races, and prophecies. I loved both parts of the story and enjoyed the classical fantasy feel to this story; it really reminded me of Robin McKinely's The Hero and the Crown.

Tess is a plucky young girl; she is strong and not afraid to stand up for herself. I admired her, although she comes off as a bit standoffish at points, you can really tell that she has used that armor to protect her from her abusive father. I love how Tess has decided on what type of man she would want to marry. Then as the story progresses and she spends time with Garth she occasionally makes a mental note of how he matches up with some aspect on her list. Garth is a wonderful character; caring,mysterious, and tough in his own right he is a perfect match for Tess and loved watching learn about each other and slowly fall in love with each other.

Tess's two friends are also wonderful characters. You can't help but feel for Tess's friend who is a young mother and loves her husband but is forced to flee him; I was drawn in to that story as well. Tess's other friend is cursed with a beauty that blinds and captivates men and she also has an excellent and engaging side story.

The writing was wonderfully done, the descriptions are beautiful and writing flows nicely. I enjoyed the writing style a lot and found the story to be incredible engaging. The book wraps everything up nicely with an epilogue that shows how things end up for all of the characters involved. There are perfect measures of happiness, heartbreak, humor, and adventure in this story.

Overall I absolutely adored this book. It was a wonderful medieval fantasy with dragons, fairies, witch hunts, love, adventure, humor, and magic. It reminded me a lot of McKinely's The Hero and the Crown so fans of that book should definitely check this out. This isn't your typical fantasy about a plucky young girl who wants to buck tradition to make it on her own, this story is about so much more. It completely captured my heart and was incredibly well written and engaging. So what are you waiting for?! Go read it now!

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