I will start off saying that I really needed this book to “wow” me. Last week, I tried starting Matched by Ally Condie and I could only get through about fifty pages before stopping. I was thoroughly disappointed because of all of the great things I’ve heard about Matched. For some reason, I just wasn’t drawn into the story and I wasn’t a huge fan. That being said, I decided to start Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey with very high hopes…
Dragonswood tells the story of a young girl named Tess who lives on Wilde Island, where there are kings, dragons, knights and even fairies. In a time when the relationship between humans, dragons and the fey are beginning to strain, Tess finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between the three races. When an overzealous witch hunter tries her as a witch, even Tess’s power to see the future can’t help save her or her friends.
Overall, I did like this book. It reminded me of reading the fantasy novels that I loved as a kid, but I can’t say that I got my “wow” that I was hoping for. I felt like the first two hundred pages or so could have been condensed into one hundred pages and that the latter part of the book should have been stretched out. I was often bored at times during the beginning of the book, waiting for the plot to pick up. Once things got exciting, I felt like information was thrown together too quickly and details that should have been hammered out a little more were left unrefined.
There were some aspects of the book that I really liked. First and foremost, I loved the setting. With the backdrop of 1100’s Europe, Carey was able to paint such a clear picture of the landscape in which the story took place I was completely immersed in the ancient cities, castles and mystical forests full of fairies.
I also really liked the main character, Tess, and her love interest, Garth. I felt that Carey brought a reality to Tess in that she was imperfect and didn’t do what was right all the time. She wasn’t the most beautiful, she had no talent for healing or comforting the sick and she even ratted out her friends as possible witches. While we all might say we’d never sell our friends out to an evil witch hunter, who’s to say what you’d do or say while you were being tortured? I thought that Tess brought a real honesty to the story and she was somewhat atypical to the heroines we’re seeing in a lot of today’s fiction. Garth, too, was an interesting character, especially in his interactions with Tess. While you figure out from the beginning that he will end up being her love interest (no shockers there, as he’s the only other non-married man in the story) he chastises her for her betrayal of her best friends. Instead of comforting her and telling her it could have been anyone’s mistake, he takes her to make up for her grave fault and rebukes her apologies.
While Dragonswood didn’t blow me away like I had hoped, I still enjoyed reading this book. It was a good break from stories that bring mystical creatures into modern times.