Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey (2 stars)

Some friends recommended Dragonswood to me ages ago. I finally got around to it and, despite finishing in two sittings, we didn't get on well.  The general idea of a magical creature reserve on an island kingdom is interesting enough. Unfortunately, the story around it fell flat. My notes contained maybe one positive, so we're doing a quick mini-review to limit my ranting. :)

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
Series: Wilde Island Chronicles #2
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on January 5, 2012
Published by Dial
Final Rating: 2 stars

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.


  • The narrative skims over and through everything. As a result, nothing feels very important or meaningful. On the bright side, the skimming effect means I got through it quickly.
  • I didn't care about any of these characters. At all. I had to look up the protagonist's name while making notes. Two days after finishing it.
  • Tess keeps whining about how Garth isn't hitting her like her dad did but she must be ever vigilant in case he turns on them. I understand this is her mindset, but this would have been a beautiful time to mention it once or twice in the beginning to establish her character's viewpoint and then shut up about it.
  • The romance. I didn't care. I don't think the characters even cared. It's treated with the same fly-by skimming manner as the rest of the story. Hi, bye.
  • The prophecies and plot "twists" hold no surprises and aren't especially entertaining. It made dragons, fairies, fae, witch hunters, princes, a potential palace coup, visions of the future and hiding from all of the above boring.
  • The witch hunter's motivations turns out to be so simple and so unbelievable for me.
  • The end. Oh my goodness. After going on and on about how she wants to be independent and illuminate scripts with her art skills and blah blah blah... (SPOILER- highlight to view) In the epilogue, Tess is reduced to marriage and having given birth to a new kind of magical kid. Not that marriage and children are bad- and theoretically, she's also drawing and running through the woods and being independent- but bluh. It left a sour aftertaste.

You might ask, with all these negatives, why didn't you give it 1 star? The answer: I disliked many things upon reflection, but I was fairly apathetic while reading most of the book. Since I didn't exactly dislike it while reading (except for the end), it got 2 stars. More like 1.5, but round it up.

If you like light, simple fantasy stories with prophecies, romance and happy endings, Dragonswood may be for you. Also, I didn't realize this was part of a "series," but it looks like each book works as a standalone, so read them in order or individually. Whatever works. :)


  1. This seems like a mediocre book all around :/ Not my thing either.

    1. Mediocre pretty much sums it up. Luckily, there are many more fantasy reads out there! :)

  2. From your review, I give you props for at least FINISHING. Gosh. For me, I'm not sure if a book is worse if I dislike it or if I'm indifferent for it. At least with dislike, there's EMOTION. And that's what this book needs if it seems like the characters didn't care at all. Blech. Good job on finishing though, Kel ;)

    1. Thank you! It's weird. I was in this reading funk where I only seemed to finish books that weren't very good, but I finished them fast. *shrug*

  3. Dragons, fairies, witches and princes/princesses all in one book? Seems a bit much.

    1. I've seen other authors pull it off, and I think the ideas could have worked, but this book didn't pull it off. Robin McKinley's Spindle has a good mix of fairies, princes/princesses, evil fairies/witches and sentient buildings. :)

  4. That cover is beautiful! But everything else sounds not for me! I need to care about my characters and a solid romance. Glad you found something to like, but thanks for steering me away from this one!

    1. I liked the cover, too. :) I'm surprised it was such a major miss for me because several readers I'm usually in tune with loved it, but there you have it. You're very welcome!

  5. ehhh and no - I think I might actually own this one also. But don't remember buying it - so obviously it didn't leave an impression even before acquiring it somehow.

    1. Yeah, aside from the cover, it didn't leave much of an impression. At least I got it really cheap. :)