Author: Janet Lee Carey
Series: Wilde Island Chronicles, #2
(can be read as a standalone)
Wilde Island is the last refuge for dragons and fey alike, but with the passing of King Kadmi, the sanctuary known as Dragonswood is in danger. The heir to the throne, Prince Arden, is away at war and in his absence, the ambitious Lord Sackmoore has taken control, a man who harbors ill will toward the island’s mythological creatures. With his support, the Lady Adela has taken it upon herself to cleanse the land of witches.
Tess of Harrowton feels a strong connection to Dragonswood and though it is forbidden, she finds herself drawn there. When Tess and her two friends are accused of witchcraft, they barely escape. On the run, Tess leads them into the wildwood where the mysterious Garth Huntsman offers them refuge. But the struggle between humans, dragons, and fey is about to spill over and Tess will soon discover she may be the key to saving Dragonswood.
She tipped her head, considering. “You say you’re not a witch…There are only two reasons a girl enters Dragonswood. Either she goes to join with Satan, or she’s drawn in by the fey.”
Filled with petulant dragons, fervent witch hunts, and clever fey, Janet Lee Carey’s Dragonswood is a beguiling fantasy read. Tess is a breath of fresh air in terms of characterization. Raised in an abusive home, she has a deep seeded mistrust of men. She longs for independence in a time when unwed women are regarded with suspicion and are far more likely to be accused of witchcraft. Tess isn’t above making mistakes, she misjudges people, but does everything in her power to make up for it. She’s brave and a little prickly, but I love her for it.
Because her father made it a hobby of beating her and her mother, Tess believes there is something ugly to be found in almost every man. She fears the anger underneath and in many ways reminds me of a skittish animal, always ready to flee at the first hint of danger. Garth is something of a conundrum to her. He shows her a level of respect that confounds her, he listens to her and considers her opinions. Their relationship grows quietly with every shift earned, their openness with one another is gradual and genuine.
The fey and dragons work hard to find a solution to the threat to their sanctuary. With the people hungry to blame their problems on witchcraft and less inclined to show favor to the old ways, the otherworldy beings have few allies and less power than ever before. To find a way to save Dragonswood, fey, dragons and humans must work together. Janet Lee Carey’s Dragonwood is one of my all-time favorite fantasy books and one I highly recommend.