Review: The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey

The Secret of Dreadwillow CarseTitle: The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse
Author: Brian Farrey
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Goodreads

A princess and a peasant girl must embark on a dangerous quest to outwit a centuries-old warning foretelling the fall of the Monarchy in this modern fairytale. 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.



Rating: ★★★★/5 stars
The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse tells us the story of two 12 year old girls living in Emberfell; princess Jeniah, and Aon. The princess’s mother is dying, and she will soon have to be queen. Jeniah is terrified she will mess up because she has no idea how to rule, and her mother has only told her one thing: do not enter dreadwillow carse, or the monarchy will fall. However, this only spikes Jeniah’s curiosity. What is in the carse that could ruin thousands of years of peace? 

Then there’s Aon, a girl with a secret. She is the only one who can feel sadness in a world where the only emotion people feel is happiness. She doesn’t understand why, but she knows one thing: the dreadwillow carse holds the cure for her sadness. Together, the girls form a plan to send Aon into the heart of the carse to discover it’s secrets, but when Aon doesn’t return Jeniah has no choice but to find her friend. She enters the carse herself, even though it risks the entire monarchy. 

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse was very different from what I thought it would be. Where I thought I’d get a cutesy book that wouldn’t be more than just a fun read, I got so much more. The book, while disturbing at times, had a truly magical feel to it. It read like a dream, and I couldn’t help finishing it in one sitting.

This book has it all: 2 amazingly strong main characters, an incredible friendship, a (very creepy) fairytale like setting, beautiful writing, and a valuable message for it’s readers. It’s a great book for any middle-schooler, or anyone who loved middle grade novels, like me.


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