Dragonswood Janet Lee Carey
407 pages, Hardcover
Companion to Dragon's Keep
Summary from Goodreads:
Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens.
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.
I waited a bit too long (per usual) to write this review and now I've forgotten many of the details. While I generally enjoyed reading this book and overall I was left with a positive impression, Dragonswood was just missing that certain something that would have made it a great read. There wasn't anything particularly new or unique about the story.
What does make Dragonswood stand out is it's strong emphasis on basic feminist ideas: Women are not property, women should have basic rights--such as being able to marry who they choose, women shouldn't be beaten by their husbands, etc. For example, Tess says early on in the book that she doesn't want to get married, because for her, even the term "wedlock" implies that the woman is locked into the marriage and only the husband has the key. Not that I don't appreciate some good old-fashioned feminism and wish there was more of it in the YA romances coming out lately, but Carey's position on feminism is so basic that it doesn't lend itself to much more discussion than simply saying that I agree: women shouldn't be beaten or forced into marriage (or other such things) simply because they are women. All three girls get love and marriage on their own terms--yes, it means different things to each of them and not every woman would approve of each, but that seems to be Carey's point. That is, I identified more with Tess, who falls in love over a longer period of time and questions and debates her feelings, than Poppy who just falls head-over-heels for a hot fey man.
While I very, very much appreciate Carey's decision to incorporate feminist ideas, I would have like to have seen her take it a few steps further.