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THE DROWNED WOODS by Emily Lloyd-Jones

A magical, ethereal fantasy from IndieBound bestselling author Emily Lloyd-Jones.

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.

The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale. 

Title : The Drowned Woods
Author : Emily Lloyd-Jones
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Minotaur Books
Release Date : August 16, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 

Hollis’ 3 star review

While I don’t want to say that the pitch of this story is wrong — part heist novel, part dark fairytale, delightful Welsh world — I do want to stress the importance of the words “part”. Because the heist part.. well, it’s there but might not be the kind of heist you’re used to. And the same with the dark fairytale; in fact that might be the least present, I think. But they are all definitely players in this story. Just.. bit players. Mostly the whole story is just tiny pieces of things, really. They don’t feel disjointed by any means but we never get full solid bites of anything.

Overall this didn’t move me or enthral me the same way as The Bone Houses. I did like some of the characters — notably the corgi — but never felt the love for any. And I only got the slightest of tickle at the back of my throat near the emotional bit. But the writing was so good and I do love the Welsh setting.

I’ll admit I did spend most of the book trying to figure out how this connected to the aforementioned other novel and I thought it was just my memory failing me (I read too many books to remember lots of details.. it’s my curse) but then the penny finally dropped. And it was very well done.

I would definitely not want to deter you from picking this up, particularly if you’re a fan of the other book this connects to, but for me this had a strong start and a good ending. But the middle is where I got a bit lost and the characters couldn’t quite keep me in it. Having said that, I’ll absolutely continue to read this author.

Also, shoutout to that cover. Stunning!

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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