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Dragonswood Hardcover – January 5, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The Dragonswood is off-limits, but Tess, who sees visions in firelight, is inexorably drawn there. Wrongly accused as witches, she and two friends escape into the forbidden heart of Wilde Island. There, Tess meets an intriguing huntsman named Garth and discovers she is destined to be more than a blacksmith’s daughter. In a nod to Robin Hood, the island’s rightful heir is off fighting in the Crusades, while a regent is doing his best to take over the throne. Humans, fairies, and dragons coexist in the lush setting (first introduced in Dragon’s Keep, 2007), which is so well drawn it practically serves as another character. As Franny Billingsley did in Chime (2011), Carey uses gorgeous, lyrical prose to illustrate a world of authentic period detail combined with fantastical elements. Although the supporting characters, especially the dragons, are well drawn, a first-person point of view keeps the focus squarely on Tess and her journey. This novel, a cross between fantasy and historical fiction, also has a touch of romance and will likely appeal to fans of many genres. Grades 8-12. --Charli Osborne


"Painful, cathartic and cautiously hopeful; a fairy tale for those who have given up on believing in them, but still yearn for happily ever after." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A perfectly crafted combination of history, mythology, and fantasy...The political intrigue, mythology of Merlin, and romances that bloom are all uncovered with precise timing and will have readers racing toward the end and then going back to savor the events more slowly." — School Library Journal (starred review)

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; First Edition edition (January 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803735049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803735040
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

~Things are never what they seem. Find the lost inside the dream ~
Janet Lee Carey is the award-winning author of eight Children's and YA novels including DRAGONSWOOD (Kirkus and School Library Journal starred reviews). School Library Journal starred review says of Janet's work; "Verdict: This is quite simply fantasy at its best-original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving."
Janet links each new book with a charitable organization empowering readers to make a difference in the world. She tours in US and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals, and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. http://www.janetleecarey.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I waited, for what seemed like forever, for my local library to get 'Dragonswood'. I am a huge fan of books such as 'Graceling', 'Fire', "Power of Touch', 'Eragon' and even 'Game of Thrones' and I particularly enjoy the history of merry olde England so I had high hopes for a book that centered on faries, dragons, humans and the myths surrounding magic on the island across the pond.

While I found the two main characters, Garth and Tess engaging, how the story unfolded was not so great. I enjoyed the fact that the author more or less jumped into the story, reader learns quickly why the island is in such a state of uncertanity. Wilde Island was a place that I would like to find myself lost in. I thought that it was clever how Carey (the author) divided the book into, what I would consider, development sequences, as opposed to authors who try (and usually fail) at connecting different elements of the story, With that said, I still feel that the story, the pace and the characters could and should have been flushed out more. I often find that with first person narratives this can be difficult, without switching between the two main character's point of views, but here in 'Dragonswood' it would have elevated the tale, with Garth and Tess being co-narrators.

As I finished the book I felt cheated. I spent a great deal of time reading about the witch hunters, the dragons, the lost Princes, and I felt the ending was rushed. The climax was weak at best and the romance, which I believe was the driving force of the story offered no deep impact at the end. To avoid spoliers, I will not say to much- but it left me wanting more in the romance departement.
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Format: Hardcover
First Impressions: It has been a while since I have read a good book about dragons, and I was itching for something different to read. I was thrilled to see Dragonswood coming out soon and the author was super nice to send me a copy for review. I love a good historical novel mixed with elements of the paranormal so I was really excited to start to read this book. I think the cover art of Dragonswood is also quite gorgeous!

First 50 Pages: The beginning of this book was heartbreaking. I was introduced to most of the main characters and the pacing of the story felt good to me. The book starts off with a burning of an accused witch when Tess is a little girl. Fast forward to when Tess is older and we are now attending the funeral of Tess's baby brother. All of her siblings have perished and she is the only child in her family to survive. Tess's father is a very mean man who beats her and her mother, but that is not unusual in their village and it is quite rare to find a man who isn't a complete jerk. In order to save her own sanity, at night Tess flees into Dragonswood to be alone and spot the magical creatures that live there. The only problem with this is that is completely forbidden. Anyone caught in Dragonswood is considered a witch and must stand trial for witchcraft and consorting with the devil. Not only that, but Tess occasionally has the Fire Sight, which are visions she receives while gazing into fire. Her grandfather, who now lives far away, told Tess never to reveal that she has the sight, unless she wants to be accused of being a witch.

Unfortunately for Tess, a noblewoman who is a witch hunter comes to her village to rid the people of witches before a new King is crowned, and Tess is named as witch since all of her siblings have died.
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1 Comment 21 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A. Copulos on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book has gotten mixed reviews. I can see why- having strong lead characters is incredibly important for a fantasy novel. For the first half of the book- I didn't find Tess incredibly likable. Although she made some mistakes, I never really felt like she geniunely felt angst about it. I will say, though, that I think that the characters really do start to develop halfway through the book.

I was glad I stuck with the book, I really did enjoy it. Once I started having answers about Tess, Garth, and the company Tess is keeping- I thought the book took a turn for the original and great. There needs to be more fun and creative fantasy novels about dragons, and I am so glad this one exsists!

This book had a complete and satisfying ending- it was the kind that made me give a happy little sigh as I finished the book. The fairies and dragons really take the mainstage in this book- don't let the synopsis fool you- this isn't a witch book (like other recent reviews I have done).

If you are a fan of fantasy, fairies, dragons, and a good adventure and love story- you will enjoy this book!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey has been on my TBR list for a while now. It's definitely a different tale, but I struggled to get a rating for it. It's somewhere between 3-3.5 stars.

Dragonswood stars Tess, a young village girl, who seems to have a power that she shouldn't have. That's not a good thing to have when there are witch hunts running rampant. She also has a longing for Dragonswood where the fey live. A witch hunter has noticed her going there, and she becomes sentenced as a witch. From there, she meets a ranger named Garth, and also takes with her some dear friends that are also in danger. The rest is a mixture of magic, containing fairies, dragons, and hidden treasures.

The writing is pretty good. The biggest issue I had with this book is that it really drags for the first 80% and that's really way too long for a book to drag. The last 20% is VERY good, and that made me feel sad I had to give it less than a 4 star rating. But there is way too much development going on. Add the fact that Tess is not a very likeable character for most of the book, and it led to me skimming until I hit the interesting parts. I liked the world building and the twists were wonderful (but again most of all the twists happened in the last 10% of the book). I also really liked the dragons-- they were probably my favorite part of the book. I noticed that this is the first book in a trilogy, and I wonder if the other two books have similar issues.

Overall, an interesting world mixed with fairies, dragons, and magic-- but the magic waits too long to happen.
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