Title: The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse
Author: Brian Farrey
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
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.
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.