Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
Series: Wilde Island Chronicles #2
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on January 5, 2012
Published by Dial
Read From: 3.18.12 - 3.21.12
Wilde Island is in an uproar over the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying and the royal witch hunter begins a vengeful quest to hunt down girls with fire in their hearts and sparks in their soul.
Strong-willed Tess, a blacksmith's daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, 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. The journey is bleaker than they ever imagined and they have no choice but to accept when a enigmatic huntsman offers them shelter in the dangerous Dragonswood. Staying with him poses risks of its own: Tess has no idea how to handle the attraction she feels for him - or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.
Wonderful in every way. The story, the characters, the descriptions. I was initially opposed to there being any romance in the story - I usually am because it ruins a good adventure. And I was even more so opposed when I discovered that Tess was a character who had no intention of getting married. Why can there never be a story where the girl who swears off marriage actually remains unmarried? I lamented to myself. But the scenario was not at all like that. Tess hadn't sworn off marriage because she was a tough girl who didn't need a man around to help her. Tess swore off marriage because she had only known abuse at the hands of a man, and did not want to be tied to someone like that for the rest of her life. She longed for marriage, but did not think there existed out there a man who would treat her as an equal. So this was not the case of a young woman who didn't like marriage, and then changed her mind when she "met her match." Instead, it was a young woman who wanted to marry, but was afraid for a very legitimate reason. And then, of course, I met Garth, and fell in love with him in the way that Readers fall in love with all good characters, and I was totally in support of the relationship.
Meg and Poppy get a little irritating from the standpoint that they seem to always assume that Tess behaves the way she does for selfish purposes. They never seem to consider that maybe she's so distrusting because of how she's treated by her father. Their anger at Tess I can understand when she betrays them to the witch-hunter, but not their lack of understanding of why Tess doesn't trust people easily.
The "twist" concerning Tess's background is not necessarily original, but I was not really expecting it, either, and the rapidity which Tess pieces together her past is blessedly quick. I hate it when a character is about to tell the hero/heroine something earth-shattering about their past, and then they get interrupted, and the hero/heroine spends forever putting together the pieces that the Reader has already assembled.
As for the ending, it's good. It's quick and not at all dragged out. The final "twist" is also easy to figure out, but it's still a wonderful "revelation" and the way in which the fey prophecy is truly fulfilled is satisfying.
Others in the Wilde Island Chronicles: