Janet Lee Carey
Paranormal Young Adult
Available January 5th
Received for review through Teen Book Scene
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.
Beautifully crafted and atmospheric, Dragonswood is one of those stories we can see and feel clearly without a great deal of detailed description, the small town in which Tess resides and the mystical surrounding forest appearing easily in our minds as each word seems to have a corresponding frame for the moving picture taking place in our heads. Though we aren’t given much history with regard to the rather tenuous truce between dragon, human, and fairy, it doesn’t detract from our overall enjoyment of this tale, with the action taking place at present enough to capture our attention and hold it throughout. While fantasy elements dance across the pages in all their magical glory, we are truly anchored to the story through Tess—her pain, her desires, and her need to discover a place in the world she can call her own helping us connect on an emotional level that provides us with the comfort we require to open up our imaginations and let ourselves experience what Ms. Carey has written.
Tess has us in her corner from the first few paragraphs in the prologue, the unfortunate circumstances of her reality presented to us in blunt and raw fashion—facts only, with little drama or emotion to be found lurking beneath the black ink—and we find our hearts pounding in anticipation and hope that the concluding pages will paint us a happier picture than the opening ones. While Tess has intimate knowledge of the back of a man’s hand and the sound of his anger, she never loses hope that a better man than her father exists, and despite the recoil she occasionally experiences when Garth raises his arm or moves too suddenly, she never allows herself to be consumed by what was beaten into her. She is fiercely loyal and protective of those around her, constantly striving to help them find their happiness even at the cost of her own.
There are several things about Garth and Tess–as well as the dragons and fairies–that become obvious to us far before Tess even begins to entertain the possibility, however the story is interesting enough we still find ourselves enthralled. Events move rapidly at times and then slow back down to give us time to catch our breath before the next daring rescue, narrow escape, or emotional revelation, not drowning us in action nor boring us with too many quite moments but rather keeping a nice pace to guarantee our involvement every page and chapter. Sometimes the ease with which Tess and company achieve their goals tests the limits of believability, but ultimately our loyalty to the characters has us rooting for them strongly enough we don’t find it worth the effort to object to things working out in their favor.
Overall, Dragonswood will delight and entertain most readers, though fans of romance might find themselves wishing for just a bit more pay off between Garth and Tess after all the tantalizing tension sparking between them. That being said however, their relationship is one of sweet innocence and vulnerability as Tess opens herself up to Garth in a way she thought had been knocked out of her by violent touches where there should have only been loving ones, leaving us with a smile on our faces even though we long for more between the two of them. Readers who love adventure and light fantasy will no doubt relish the tangibility of this tale, finishing the last pages with an intense desire to read more of this world.