Author: Janet Lee Carey
Series: Wilde Island Chronicles, #1
(can be read as a standalone)
Rosalind should feel blessed, the future 21st Queen in the Pendragon line, the young princess is prophesied to bring back the honor of her family and end war, but all Rosalind longs for is a cure. Born with a dragon’s claw in place of her ring finger, she has spent her entire life hiding the ailment. Only her mother knows of the wretched mar and will do anything to see her daughter healed. Wilde Island is plagued with the threat of a dragon, one who shows no mercy, but when Rosalind comes face to face with the monster, her claw may be the only thing that can save her.
“Wormwood, vervain, bows, spears, and sharpened swords: In years past I’d believed in such herb spells and weapons. But now I’d seen the beast with my own eyes. He was as a dark god to us, and our knights had little chance against him.”
I am a huge fan of the second book in this series, Dragonswood, and although these books can be read as standalone novels, I really wanted to read the first book. Janet Lee Carey’s Dragon’s Keep reads very much like a fairy tale. Rosalind, sequestered because of her malady, dreams of a cure and true love. With only her mother in possession of her secret, Rosalind grows up ashamed of herself and in constant fear that someone will discover what she hides under her gloves. As the story progresses Rosalind matures, but the woes she endures from both human and dragon are a testament to the wickedness wrought when you allow prejudice to blind you.
Rosalind’s mother, Queen Gweneth, is a mixture of good intentions and relentless means. She is driven more by fear than love and does more harm than good when it comes to protecting her daughter. Rosalind suffers at the hands of various healers and the Queen, hardened against her daughter’s suffering, is blind to the torment she is inflicting. When Rosalind finds a friend in the mute Katinka, who alleviates some of her loneliness, the Queen discourages the friendship, causing her daughter further pain.
Dragon’s Keep‘s lyrical writing structure at times felt too flowery. While the second half of the book focuses on Rosalind’s experience with the dragon Lord Faul, I wanted more backstory regarding the tumultuous relationship between dragonkind and humans. There are also several characters with important roles in Rosalind’s life who had little page-time and thus lacked enough depth.