14 April 2016

The Secret of the Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey

Publication: April 19, 2016
# of Pages: 256
Source: ARC Copy from NetGalley **This does not affect my review in anyway. 

In the center of the verdant Monarchy lies Dreadwillow Carse, a black and desolate bog that the happy people of the land do their best to ignore. Little is known about it, except for one dire warning: If any monarch enters Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall. Twelve-year-old Princess Jeniah yearns to know what the marsh could possibly conceal that might topple her family’s thousand-year reign of peace and prosperity.

Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Emberfell, where everyone lives with unending joy, a girl named Aon hides a sorrow she can never reveal. She knows that something in the carse--something that sings a haunting tune only Aon can hear--holds the cure for her sadness. Yet no matter how many times she tries to enter, the terror-inducing dreadwillow trees keep her away.

After a chance meeting, Princess Jeniah and Aon hatch a plan to send Aon into the heart of the carse to unlock its darkest secret. But when Aon doesn’t return, a guilt-stricken Jeniah must enter the carse to try and rescue her friend--even if it means risking the entire Monarchy.

A bayou, Louisiana type atmosphere serves as the back drop of the The Secret of the Dreadwillow Carse. With a pleasant, happy, and care-free monarchy, an area is closed off to everyone including the Queen's daughter Jeniah. While Jeniah is curious about the desolate forbidden bog, a young peasant girl by the name of Aon questions why everyone in the monarchy is unable to feel an other emotion outside of happiness. 

What I enjoyed most about this was the underlying message related to being able to express one's emotions. A lot of times children either are taught not to express their emotions or they feel uncomfortable doing so. With the publication of this novel comes a vital catalyst for children of all ages to express how they feel about certain things and be comfortable in doing so. In addition to this aspect of the novel, I really enjoyed the character Skonas. He is supposed to serve as a tutor for Jeniah; however, he proves to be so much more. I loved the way he pushed her curiosity and provided her with the necessary tools she didn't know she needed. He's endearing and pushes her to be successful. I wish the reader was able too see more of him throughout the text. 

A few things I did not care for within the novel included a certain lack of exploration. Although the reader is presented with the issue of the monarchy living in complete bliss and joy, it seems that if the author would have explored this particular element just a little more it would have led to a more complex and dynamic story. In addition to this, the ending of the book seemed a bit rushed. The plot was building to this amazing climax and the resolution seemed to come too quickly. Nevertheless, this book ended on somewhat of a cliff hanger so I'm interested in seeing where the story will go if there is a sequel. 

If you are interested in middle grade fantasy with some supernatural elements and interesting twists and turns I would recommend giving this novel a try. 


  1. The atmosphere sounds fantastic!! I hate rushed book endings though. I'll have to pass on this one. Great review though! :D