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Monday, July 8, 2013

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

On Wilde Island, there is no peace between dragons, fairies, and humans.

Wilde Island is in an uproar over the recent death of its king. As the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans begins to fray, the royal witch hunter with a hidden agenda begins a vengeful quest to burn girls suspected of witchcraft before a new king is crowned.

Strong-willed Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet, wants more for herself than a husband and a house to keep. But in times like these wanting more can be dangerous. Accused of witchery, Tess and her two friends are forced to flee the violent witch hunter. As their pursuer draws ever closer they find shelter with a huntsman in the outskirts of the forbidden Dragonswood sanctuary. But staying with the mysterious huntsman poses risks of its own: Tess does not know how to handle the attraction she feels for him—or resist the elusive call that draws her deeper onto the heart of Dragonswood.

Released: January 5th 2012         Pages: 407
Publisher: Dial                            Source: Library
First Look: ****This book looked interesting because, well, dragons. Until I was about halfway through this book, I didn't realize that it was a companion to Janet Lee Carey's other novel, Dragon's Keep.  I had seen Dragon's Keep at the library before, but I had never wanted to read it because the cover grosses me out.  (Long fingernails + weird green skin=nope nope nope.)  I hadn't made the connection between the two books until then.  It's a bit weird that there is no indication on Dragonswood that it has a companion novel.  I haven't read the companion, but I had no trouble understanding this book.

Setting: *****   
Wilde Island is an island?  Either I missed that, or it was never specified.  I only realized it by rereading this book's inside cover description.  Anyway, the description says "Wilde Island is in uproar".  I never got that sense.  It seemed almost sleepy, to me.  Apparently tensions are high, but for half the book the biggest problem was an abusive father and false accusations.  These are big problems, but not necessarily for the entire island, and not enough to cause a huge uproar.  So, I'm not sure where these so-called tensions were coming from.

Other than that, I didn't care one way or another about the setting.  It was just...there.  In high fantasy, this is not a good thing.  High fantasy should make me care about the place so, in turn, I can care more about the people trying to save it.

 Characters: ***** I didn't care much for the main character, Tess, but I didn't outright dislike her, either.  The only thing that bugged me was that she wanted to be an independent woman, not owned by any man and not stuck in an abusive marriage.  I support all of these things.  Then, however, Tess went and fell in near insta-love with Garth, based on nothing but his looks and the fact that he owns a cozy little cabin in the woods.  So Tess wants to be loved for her personality, but she's okay with loving Garth based on those two little things?

Apart from that, I never had much opinion about her.  She didn't stand out as a particularly fleshed-out character, but she was okay.  I wish I would've been able to see her as more of a three-dimensional human being.

 Plot: *****  I feel like I read two different books.  The first part was about Tess's escape from the witch hunter.  About halfway through, Tess learns something about herself, and suddenly the book becomes the story of Tess getting involved with the fey and a plot to make an ancient prophecy about the princes come true.  Um...what happened there?  I felt like the second half didn't really connect to the first, and was a weird transition.

Also, I can never really get into a book involving the fey.  I'm open to being proven wrong, but so far I have never loved a book about the fey.  For some reason, in basically every single book I've read that involves them, I get bored and feel disconnected from the story.

Uniqueness: ****
The world of this book had a few aspects that were different, like the interaction between the fey, humans, and dragons.

Writing: ***** I kept getting disoriented.  It wasn't an every-so-often I have to reread a paragraph thing.  It was a consistent thing that happened every few pages.  I don't know if this problem had to do with lack of description wherever a transition happened, or what.  I'm not sure.  I kept getting a little confused, like "Wait...weren't they just outside?  When did they go inside?"

Likes: For the first time in over two months, I am officially caught up on my reviews.

Not-so-great: Nothing not already mentioned above. 

Overall: Meh.  Something about this book just didn't click with me.  Nothing about it compelled me, but I have few specific reasons to dislike it.  I never really connected with Tess, nor could see her as a three-dimensional character.  The first half of the plot was totally different from the second half, and it felt a little weird to me.  Finally, the narration disoriented me on a regular basis.
Similar Books: It involves the fey like The Iron King, has a softer medieval fantasy feel like Brightly Woven or Witchlanders, or even The ReturningIt also reminds me of Auralia's Colors.

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