In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey

In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey

Title: In the Time of Dragon Moon
Author: Janet Lee Carey
Series: Wilde Island Chronicles, #3

Uma Quarteney, the daughter of the Adan, an Euit healer, and an English midwife, is determined to defy convention and become the first female Adan in her father’s tribe. News of her father’s infertility cure has spread throughout Wilde Island and the Queen, desperate for another child, orders her soldiers to bring the Adan to Pendragon Castle to cure her. When Uma’s father dies, the burden passes to his daughter, who knows failure will not only end her life but her tribe’s. Despite all her effort, time is running out. On Dragon’s Keep, Uma finds an unlikely ally in Jackrun, the King’s nephew and firstborn of a legendary prophesy. When tragedy strikes the Pendragon family, taking the life of one of their own, Uma and Jackrun discover it may not have been accidental at all, but the opening move in a larger scheme.

“The jagged crack running down the mirror cut me in two. The split image I saw startled me: Uma of Devil’s Boot, Uma of the Pendragon court. I spread my feet apart, trying to span my two worlds. My heart felt wedged in the crack between them both.”

I am in love with Janet Lee Carey’s Dragonswood, so I was delighted to discover that this book contained several familiar faces, even if they only made small appearances. A new layer to Carey’s world is discovered in In the Time of Dragon Moon, the third installment in the Wild Island Chronicles. Readers have already met with dragons, fey, and the English inhabitants of Wilde Island. Uma’s perspective explores the beliefs and customs of the native islanders. Half Euit and half English, Uma’s journey takes her from her home among her tribe to the foreign and often stringent formalities of the English court. And though her circumstances change, Uma struggles to reconcile who she is and who she wants to be when both worlds seek to limit her opportunities. She is subjected to threats and prejudice, but through it all she learns to accept herself and not to compromise her ambitions.

Jackrun is the first to have human, dragon, and fey in his blood. To many this means he is destined to rule, despite the fact that he isn’t the heir to the Pendragon throne. Chivalrous and kind, it’s hard not to see that he would make a just leader, but there is more dragon in Jackrun than the dragon scales that can be found on his arm. He struggles with his fire-breathing ability, an ability that has made him feel like an outcast in his own family. Both Jackrun and Uma don’t quite fit in among their own people. For Uma, her struggle is with being half English and a female healer in a tribe that values tradition. For Jackrun, his gift and the prophesy of his birth feel more like a curse and burden. Despite this, Uma is accepting of Jackrun’s gift and he in turn encourages her aspirations.

In the Time of Dragon Moon explores themes of identity, prejudice, and madness. With cunning characters and high stakes, this third installment is as delightful as the last.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Title: Dragonswood
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.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★

Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey

Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey

Title: Dragon’s Keep
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.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

ARC Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Title: Shadow Scale
Author: Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina, #2
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley which does not affect my review**

While the machinations of the exiled dragon Imlann were thwarted in Seraphina, it set off a chain reaction that thrust dragonkind into a civil war. For better or for worse, Goredd is being pulled into the conflict, siding with Ardmagar Comonot, as his Generals back in the Tanamoot, calling themselves the Old Ard, attempt a coup. When the dragon Orma discovers there may be a way to defend the kingdom with the help of half-dragons, Seraphina must use her ability to connect with others like herself and find them before the conflict spills into all of the Southlands.

It’s been two and a half years since the release of Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina and my expectations for the sequel were very high, especially when considering how awe-struck I was after rereading the first book. While Shadow Scale once again demonstrates Hartman’s skill at world-building, I found the sequel less satisfying than its predecessor. The ending left me wanting something different and very aware of missed opportunities regarding several characters.

One of the issues I had with this book was its pacing. It wasn’t until all the characters had been assembled that the story really took off for me, so the beginning was rather slow. At times the conflict felt a little understated because many of the battles were psychological. Seraphina’s story send her away from Goredd and several important people in her life, including her uncle Orma. I felt his absence keenly and by the end of the book I didn’t feel the subplot involving him had been properly resolved. Because this book focuses heavily on Seraphina’s quest to find the other half-dragons, her other relationships were put on the back burner, much to my dismay.

Still, Shadow Scale provided a lot of interesting contrasting characters and worldviews. The small colony of Porphyry has treated dragons and half-dragons, called ityasaari, with a lot more respect and reverence than Goredd. Meeting other ityasaari is a humbling experience for Seraphina, whose own struggles seem minuscule compared to those worse off than herself. The ityasaari Jannoula is a dangerous mixture of honorable intentions and deceptive means. As different as she is from Seraphina, I could not help but consider the possibility that our protagonist might have taken a similar path if she didn’t have her music, Orma, and her friends’ love and acceptance.

Rating: 3/5

★★★