Thank you so much to North Star Editions via NetGalley for the digital early copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!
A Dragonbird in the Fern is a debut YA fantasy, fast paced and full of magic. I think we can all agree that the cover is absolutely stunning as well. Check out the book and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: A Dragonbird in the Fern
- Series: N/A
- AuthorL Laura Rueckert
- Publisher & Release: North Star Editions, 08/03[2021
- Length: 392 Pages
- Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for fans of the genre!
Here is the book blurb:
When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice.While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.
Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.
The Plot&Story: the book blurb does a great job of summarizing the book. Jiara is betrothed in her older sister’s place, and must overcome her dyslexia in a strange land while learning the language, winning over the people as a good queen, and solving a murder mystery. I loved the who-dunnit aspect and it was a true race against the clock as Scilla’s ghost got more and more violent, going as far as killing someone. The book is very fast paced as well, not repetitive, and there is blessedly little inner monologue so I was able to read it quickly and rate it 5 stars with no issues.
Themes: The book was a little heavier than some YA plots, as Jiara is married at the start of the book and juggling issues that many older characters generally face. She is overcoming a disability while investigating and avenging her sister’s death. There is betrayal on a massive level, lots of plotting, and she must adjust to married life as a 17 turning 18 year old. I liked the themes of family ties, found family, double dealing, international relations, and learning about new cultures and religions while still hanging on to what made Jiara who she is.
Bravo too for Rueckert showing the male in the marriage being the one hanging onto honor and personal beliefs in the marital relations department. In King Raffar’s country, adults are considered age 18 and he was absolutely not going to touch Jiara before then, and I just loved that. There was also a lovely found family aspect but let’s do that when we talk about the …
Characters: Jiara is a strong young lady, absolutely determined to succeed in establishing international relations, peace, as well as finding her sister’s murderer. On top of that heavy load she is severely dyslexic, so learning a new language is nearly impossible but she perseveres. I feel like she should have just explained to people that she had a real issue, instead of letting them all assume that she just didn’t like to read, but it was Rueckert’s way of showing how people treat those with learning disabilities I guess
King Raffar didn’t have a huge role but I loved his boyish charm and awe for magic despite his originally gruff appearance. He is a truly kind and honorable person, and I liked that he was there to support Jiara. He seemed to be the only one NOT getting in her way. The guards seemed to adopt Jiara after a while too, like Freyad and the other soldiers, and it was really nice to watch them come around to her. Most of the side characters did something or another that was special and they are a great lot
The Magic and Worldbuilding: For a standalone novel there was an immensely satisfying amount of world building and magic. The magic was in the form of vengeful ghosts, as well as Watchers and deities that had a small but critical role in the book. The giant ferns, playful mounts, and magically lit up lake were small touches in a well described world including scenery descriptions, wildlife, food, weather, architecture to some degree, and cultural things. I loved that everyone had tattoos too.