Review: Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Publication Date: January 5th, 2012
FORMAT: Hardcover, 407 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars


Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens.

Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn’t expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races – dragon, human, and fairy.

This is a story about Tess – a blacksmith’s daughter who has suffered through most of her life in the hands of her father. And through the nights when the bruises and broken bones were the most painful, she would escape to Dragonswood – a forbidden place inhabited by dragons and faes. Suspected of witchcraft, she was taken by hunters led by Lady Adela to be tortured into submission. She was left with no choice but to give up the names of her friends, who then were forced to escape and hide from the clutches of the witch hunter. This led them right into the cottage of Garth Huntsman – a warden of the Dragonswood who were often aloof and sometimes enigmatic. The series of events that followed unearthed a prophecy that if came into fruition would lead to a peaceful existence between human, dragons, and fae folks. And as a true testament to any good fantasy novels, the road to fulfillment would be rife with adventure, danger and treachery with a side order of romance fit for a fairy tale.
It took me 2.5 seconds to get sucked in to this book; and it wasn’t so much as the appeal of the dragons, faeries and whatever creatures lurked in its pages but more so because of the author’s writing. Once upon a time, you couldn’t get me far away enough from historical and fantasy novels. But I seemed to have developed quite a taste for them now.
Dragonswood is as good as any other fantasy novels out there. However, I was disappointed with some of the aspects of the story. Tess’ power was a big miss. I had a hard time identifying her visions of the future as it came into fulfillment. I think the author could’ve worked it better. But perhaps I’m just the type of reader whose hands had to be held through the novel. There’s also a certain disconnection between the first part of the book and the other half. There was no smooth transition – no bridge; it was almost like reading two books in one.
The world building was stunning; none of the elements felt like it was manufactured but rather a flawless execution of a vision. There were times when I thought I was missing some character introductions and background and this is because of the fact that I’d never read the novel’s predecessor, Dragon’s Keep. But do not fret; some of them didn’t really play a big factor in the novel.
There were some disturbing realities to the story; the harshest one was the acceptable practice of abuse toward women and children. And of course, what happened to women accused of witchcraft. The writing of these scenarios was almost matter-of-fact that I couldn’t help but feel mildly turned-off.
VERDICT: Dragonswood is a fantasy novel that will sate your taste for one. But don’t expect it to be epic. It had all the key elements for a good one but not enough to be swept away by being a great one. This book has been sitting in a pile of books behind another pile, so the chances of my bumping it up my reads are pretty much minimal. I insist that the author’s writing is amazing that it’s the primary reason why I fell in like with this book.

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