Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn't expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races - dragon, human, and fairy.
For the most part, this novel wasn’t what I expected at all. Rather than a thrilling and action-intensive piece of epic fantasy, I instead found Dragonswood to be a cute, light-hearted fantasy novel that’s obviously geared toward middle grade readers. I still enjoyed this book, though had I known it was intended for a younger audience, I never would have picked it up. I have nothing against middle grade fiction, but I’m really at the point in my life where I can no longer enjoy them.
Tess, the novel’s protagonist, was likable in the way I find many fantasy heros are. She was rough around the edges, wouldn’t take crap from anyone, and managed to save the day in the end, as well as winning her Prince Charming. Tess wasn’t a particularly deep or emotionally troubled character (in spite of her past as a victim of abuse at the hands of her stepfather). I’m typically used to reading deeper, more mature portrayals of humanity; that’s just what I prefer to read. Technically speaking, there was nothing the matter with Tess or with her gang of compadres.
In terms of plot, Janet Lee Carey told a very simple story that was easily and happily resolved. Nothing was overly complicated—the interweavings of fey, dragon, and human culture where more or less simple to sort through. With the aid of dragons and her fey relatives, Tess swooped in and saved the kingdom of Wilde Island from the hands of a scheming courtier, and the reader was then treated to an almost nauseatingly sweet epilogue, where everyone is a big, happy family and all three species are getting along magnificently. It was very touching, and probably something I would have enjoyed in elementary school, but did nothing for me today.
I feel like, in general, books where everyone—even the villain—gets a happy ending are good to have in the world. My sister, who reads middle grade and young adult fantasy almost exclusively, would no doubt love this book. Personally, I enjoyed Dragonswood, but wasn’t wowed. Carey’s simplistic prose and predictable plotting didn’t sell me.
Fans of Gail Carson Levine, Tamora Pierce, and middle grade fantasy will doubtless enjoy Dragonswood much more than I did. It really is a good book, entertaining and fast-paced. Sadly, it just wasn’t as amazing for me as it would be for most other readers.
I won't say I was captivated by page one, but definitely page two. Page one is a brief history about the world you are about to dive in, and then from page two to about 150, there is nonstop thrillrides and intrigues. And then it slows until about two hundred. Which it then proceeds to pick up pace all the way unttil the end.
There were a lot of surprises abut Dragonswood. I won't say that I was completely offguard by them, but some were a LITTLE surprising. Which is good. Because if each surprise in the plot is TOO farfetched, then the reader doesn't believe there was any way it could have happened. You know?
I think one thing that REALLY surprised me was the characters. I really like a lot of the characters. Although at times it seemed like the main character, Tess, was immature but not so much that it took away from the story.
Another aspect that really intrigued me was the absence of Vampires and Werewolves. The mythical creatures present in this novel were fairies and dragons. An odd combination if you ask me. But, they worked well in the story together. The little rhyme in the beginning really brought the whole story together.
To Sum it All Up: Don't read the description; just read the book. The characters are likable, and the plot is different.