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Dragonswood is a YA fantasy novel by Janet Lee Carey.

Still reeling over the recent death of their king, Wilde Island’s already paranoid people become even more riled when a cold-hearted, dangerous witch hunter arrives.

Tess, a seventeen-year-old blacksmith’s daughter, is aware of the tensions – especially regarding the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans. However, she still enters the forbidden Dragonswood – a mysterious, magical sanctuary set apart for the use of dragons and fairies. She’s drawn there, especially after each particularly bad beating from her malicious father, or after yet another death of a newborn sibling.

But someone has spotted her on her excursions to Dragonswood. Now, Tess finds herself in the midst of an accusation that could take her life: witchery.

She manages to escape, with the unanticipated help of a dragon, and flees with her two best friends. If they’re caught, they will die.

Her guilt weighs on her as she sees how she’s ruined her friends’ lives. And the secret of her fire-sight, in which she sees glimpses of the future, doesn’t help at all. Their journey appears doomed – if they don’t die at the hands of the witch hunter, then starvation and harsh outdoor conditions will do it.

Yet when they cross paths with an enigmatic man, a man she’s seen visions of, things begin to change. If for the better or worse, Tess isn’t sure. But her attraction to him unsettles her.

As an ancient prophecy begins to take its first steps toward coming true, how can Tess know who to trust and where her loyalties must lie?

Dragonswood is a sequel of sorts to Janet Lee Carey’s Dragon’s Keep. Though you could read them as stand-alone novels, I recommend reading Dragon’s Keep first because of the extra knowledge it brings to the table, as well as making some revelations even more meaningful.

The stunning prologue of Dragonswood gives us the impression of a forbidding, distrustful world and a girl who eludes it whenever possible through spending time with the magical elements, which are portrayed in an ethereal, dreamy way right off the bat. Carey sets a fantasy tone, with her characteristically mature, melancholy backdrop.

Almost instantly the novel is effectively frightening and suspenseful with an alarming glimpse of mob mentality as the witch hunt begins in all its irrational fury. Carey uses historical detail of the time period and real witch trials to bring a raw, convincing, chilling feel to this situation. I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Janet Lee Carey!

It’s hard not to just rattle off adjectives! I loved Dragonswood. This is an epic fantasy but with roots. I always, always admire roots. If you are a fan of books that are intense, heart-wrenching, and nerve-wracking before fifty pages are even through, then here you go!

My goodness, Tess is a phenomenal main character. She’s relatable, sympathetic, and brave. There is such a loneliness and wounded core to her that I attached myself to her very, very fast. That is the mark of a great author, making you care that quickly! Just as in Dragon’s Keep, this is a novel just about personal growth and finding a place in a world you feel distanced from as much as it is an epic fantasy tale. I’m always captivated by that.

Dragonswood has non-stop movement and plot developments, a true page-turner of the fantasy sort. It’s sad, stark, hopeful, lovely, emotional yet strong. I was entranced and hypnotized by the intricacies and subtleties of the world, as well as by the character development, unique plot, and simmering-beneath-the-surface potential romance.

There’s a feeling of uncertainty in the character and the reader – keeping us involved, interested, and fully invested with shockers that kept me on my toes. This is a new, mesmerizing take on fey – I devoured and soaked it in all at once.

Plus, there are wonderful touches that follow up on Dragon’s Keep – creating a feel of a continuing story. I cannot wait until there’s a third book in Wilde Island!

I hope I’ve convinced you to pick up a copy of Dragonswood, because it is more than worth your time!


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