Cover Image: The Drowned Woods

The Drowned Woods

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Member Reviews

This was quite the enjoyable audiobook. The narrator was fantastic and the story was unique. I enjoyed this even more than the Bone Houses. The corgi was also a very nice edition especially for a Welsh based fantasy book.
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What a cracking story. This book was based on Welsh mythology and now I really want to read more books like this one. I loved the storyline. Great character all with interesting back storys that kept me hooked. Story flowed really well. Didn't want to put it down. This is my first  book by this author and I really want to read The Bone House's next. 
Great audio narration. The narrators voice was enjoyable and easy to listen to. She sucked me straight into the story with her storytelling.
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Emily Lloyd-Jones has done it again with another magical world and intriguing characters. The first book I read by Lloyd-Jones was 2019's The Bone Houses, and from there on I was converted. Afdter finding out The Drowned Woods takes place in the same universe, I knew I had to snatch it up. In The Drowned Woods, we meet your stereotypical rag tag band of misfits, but each character has a back story that makes them more than they may appear. In addition to the human characters, we also had the joy of the loveable furry sidekick in the form of a corgi "spy" (Obviously, the tiny puppers work for the Fae). Despite their being a little bit of a dip in the middle, the audiobook managed to keep me hooked and I am so glad I saw it to the end.
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A fun heist book with terribly high stakes and a romance that took me completely by surprise. 
Emily Lloyd Jones delves into themes of family, abandonment, choosing your own family  and what it takes to make a happy ending for yourself, all couched in a world inspired by welsh mythology.
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While I haven’t actually read The Bone Houses, which is set in the same world as The Drowned Woods, I had no trouble following along with the story.  In fact, reading The Drowned Woods made me want to read The Bone Houses even more, because I loved the system of magic and Emily Lloyd-Jones’ style of writing!  She combines humor and adventure so wonderfully that I was laughing one minute and on the edge of my seat the next!  My favorite character (and I doubt I will be alone in this opinion) simply has to be Trefor, Fane’s beloved corgi dog.  He is such a fun presence in the story, and one of my favorite scenes was when Trefor decided to “help” Fane out in a fight.

In addition to reading a physical copy of The Drowned Woods, I also had the pleasure of listening along to an audiobook version from Hachette Audio.  Moira Quirk, the narrator of The Drowned Woods, is one of my all-time favorite narrators, so I knew that I would be in for a treat with her take on The Drowned Woods!  I loved the way that her voice pacing matched the cadence of the story, making it so easy for me to get sucked in while listening!

My Recommendation-
If you love adventurous fantasy novels with lovable characters (and even more loveable dogs!) you need to grab a copy of The Drowned Woods!  I would especially recommend this book to fans of Fable, Six of Crows, and Avatar: The Last Airbender!
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Audiobook ARC provided by Hachette Audio, Little, Brown Young Readers via NetGalley.


The Drowned Woods returns to the world of Emily Lloyd-Jones’s 2019 novel, The Bone Houses. It’s a standalone YA fantasy novel that does have a connection to the earlier book, but I’d say they can be read in either order (it might be more rewarding even to read The Drowned Woods first, since sequentially it precedes The Bone Houses, and the latter is a slightly stronger novel, if I’m remembering correctly). Audiobook narrator Moira Quirk, who reads both novels, is excellent, breathing life into the characters and adding texture to the story with her well-performed accents.

As in the previous novel, Lloyd-Jones builds her fantasy world on (generally quite spooky) elements of Welsh Mythology, which lends it a satisfying creepy richness. The Drowned Woods is at heart a heist novel, with an appropriate mix of questionable loyalties, unexpected betrayals, etc. I did feel like the cast of characters could have been fleshed out a little more thoroughly, and the magic of the world given a little more room to breathe. It might have benefitted from being a little longer, even. Naturally, Trefor the corgi dog was the MVP.

The Drowned Woods was an engaging listen, and though it felt like it could have been developed more richly in character and plot, I liked it and it made me want to reread the first book. Also, such beautiful cover art! I’d love to have a physical copy too.
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I thought this was a really light enjoyable fantasy, that was easy to consume but also retain the information through audio format. 
Animal companions are one of my favourite tropes in any genre, and Trevor, the mischievous magic sensing corgi was a fast favourite. 

I think this would be a good start for any readers looking to get into fantasy, as it introduces you to many tropes within high fantasy writing but it wasn't overly dense. 

I think my favourite part of this novel (corgi aside) was the interwoven Welsh mythology and background.
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4.75 Stars

Thank you to Hachette Audio and Netgalley for an ALC of this book.

Mer is the last living water diviner, and she is on the run from the prince that wants to control her. But when she runs into an opportunity to bring down the prince who hurt her--and runs into a fae-cursed boy she feels a connection with--Mer does everything she can to be free.

This book was so good! Mer is a FANTASTIC main character. I love her. I love her relationships with the people around her and her struggles and her magic and everything about her. I also love Fane. He is mysterious and soft and bad-ass. And there is a CORGI. A MAGICAL CORGI. So like...obviously I loved this.

ELJ's writing is fantastic as always and the world-building is lush and magical and subtle and wonderful. I want more from this world and I want more stories about Mer and Fane and MAGICAL CORGI!!!!

Did I mention there is a magical corgi?
 
Content Warnings
Graphic: Torture, Death, and Violence
Moderate: War, Murder, Blood, Physical abuse, and Confinement
Minor: Child death, Slavery, and Suicidal thoughts
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A fantasy standalone perfect for fans of A Sorcery of Thorns and Six of Crows, The Drowned Woods manages to pack a punch in a mid-sized package. 

This story follows Mer, a water diviner, and ragtag group as they partake in a heist that they hope will weaken the savage prince of their kingdom. The looming presence of “the otherfolk” is a tangible stream throughout the book, adding an air of mystery and mysticism to the story. Trevor, the magic sensing corgi, is a balm to the weary soul of both the characters and the reader. Together, the cast makes an engaging group I was always eager to learn more of. 

This story features F/F and F/M romance, though the F/M romance felt a bit strained or forced to me. I felt more of a sense of friendship than attraction between them, but loved the role Trevor played in their connection. 

I really enjoyed the smaller scope of this story. It was a refreshing break from epic fantasies spreading across a series, and the faster pace was perfect for holding my attention. From the first sentence of the story to the last, I was enthralled with the beautiful writing and compelling worldbuilding. The Welsh influence was the perfect flavoring for this story, and the narration was spot on to bring it all to life. 

Overall, I gave this story a 4 out of 5 star rating, and would definitely recommend either the written or audiobook to any fantasy lover looking for a lovely standalone.
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"The Drowned Woods" is one of those stories that truly embodies retelling a legend, as the author gives their own spin on the kingdom of Cantre'r Gwaelod. The characters are all lively and real, and while we only follow a couple select point of view, each of the characters felt very unique in their own fashion. The novel follows a motley band of characters, including an ex-spymaster, the last known water diviner, a hired mercenary, a noble's cousin scholar, a true guild's thief, and an iron fetch (and his dog). I felt like I liked the idea of the heist and the differing personalities in the group creating interest, but the plot felt like it came suddenly at the end and there wasn't much in between the group coming together and the climax.

As part of my experience with the book, I listened to it; I quite enjoyed the narrator who gave unique inflections for each of the varied characters to tell them apart.
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THE DROWNED WOODS was an atmospheric and all around fun new fantasy from Emily Lloyd-Jones. First off, I loved Trefor, the corgi, the most out of anything out of this book. He was so precious and perfect, and as far as I am concerned, the MVP of the entire novel. I also loved the influences of Welsh folklore all throughout the book. It gave the world a very atmospheric feel to it which drew me in  so quickly. I really enjoyed this quest gone wrong kind of story and the emotional arcs that the characters end up going through. There is a twist about 2/3 of the way in that changes everything and really gets the blood pumping. The story is like a wave, building and building until it crashes to shore, making the pacing perfect in my opinion. Elemental magic, morally grey thieves, and otherfolk all come together to form a delightful narrative about betrayal and redemption that is just as beautiful as Lloyd-Jones's prose. You can't help but be invested in Mer's, Fane's and Ifanna's story and all the entangled relationships herein. It's kind of a love triangle but not really. We have a quest, a heist, and found family dynamics here in a fantasy that will just transport you to another world, which is a magic all on its own.
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It’s safe to say that if Moira Quirk narrates a book, my enjoyment of said book is pretty much a guarantee and The Drowned Woods was no exception.

Here we have a rich and vibrant retelling of Welsh mythology where Mererid ‘Mer’ is the last living water diviner who has spent her life in servitude to the evil prince and killing on his behalf. Mer has finally escaped the Prince, but her plans are thwarted when her old mentor offers her the opportunity of a lifetime. And then there’s Fane, a human indebted to the otherfolk for avenging his family’s murder and Trevor the magical corgi who steals the show. 

This story was so incredibly fun to read. I loved the high stakes heist scenario where we all know that it’s a matter of time before things go absolutely sideways.

While they seem like unlikely companions, Mer and Fane have both been through so much at such an early age that it’s no wonder they both are wary of trust and even friendship. Trevor plays a huge role in helping these two find their own way, which I loved! 

I really hope Emily-Lloyd Jones continues writing these wonderful magic adventures with magical pets that I wish I had!
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Thank you NetGalley, Hachette Audio and Little, Brown Young Readers for an advanced copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

A heist you say--a magical heist even? A motley band of morally gray characters? Inspired by Welsh mythology? AND it includes a cute corgi?! SOLD!

I adored 'The Drowned Woods' because of all of the above, but particularly because of the characters. I agree, to a degree, with other reviewers critiques around pacing...but I found myself unbothered by the pages spent introducing and developing the characters and making me care about their world and their fate. And I still felt Emily Lloyd-Jones interspersed plenty of action and suspense-filled moments along the way, even before the true 'heist' began. Plus! All the little twists and turns and reveals and betrayals were so smart and well-written!

I laughed. I cried. I would die for this corgi--and if you have not read The Bone Houses, I definitely recommend you snag that one next and fall in love with a goat too!  5 STARS
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This book was a solid 4 stars read for me, and the epilogue was a perfect way of ending this book. It's set in the same
world as The Bone Houses, and while I don't think you have to read that book before this one, I think you would miss out on really
understanding why the end is so amazing. 
This was a really great read and it can be read as a stand-alone or as a spin off.
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I was excited to read this after having loved the author's previous book.  I loved the narration of the audiobook as well as the iron and water magic each character possessed.  The characters seemed older than young adult characters which I very much appreciated.  I enjoyed the animal companion as well.  I didn't connect with the characters though.  I didn't sense any chemistry between any of them even as friends so their relationship progressions just didn't seem real for me.  I'm not a real big fan of heist plots either so at times I was just thinking, "okay let's move this along". A good story overall though and I love that the author continues to write such unique stories.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I have enjoyed Emily Lloyd-Jones other novels and looked forwarded to reading this on, "The Drowned Woods".  I think if we could give half start ratings I would give this one a 3.5.  It was slightly better than the average YA fantasy one might pick up.  This is because I found the story pretty slow to start with.   Mer is a water diviner and was used by the prince to locate and poison the wells of his enemies.  She gets away and hides out as a bar maid.   One day her old mentor finds her in the tavern and asks her to accompany him on a mission to find a magic well and get revenge upon the prince.   The readers are then introduced to a variety of other characters who join up into the this mission/heist of sorts.  Notably there is Fane who has a task that ties him to the Otherfolk and his little maybe a bit 'other' corgi who is a joy to read about.  It was hard to care about the heist or the characters the first half of the novel because the book (although beautifully written) fails to draw depth to her characters.  The book reads like an old fairy tale in that the myths and plots points are established but you don't really know why the characters act as they do.  The conclusion of the book, the climax and the follow up were wonderful though and that brought my rating up a bit.  I really enjoyed the climax and thought it was quite different than anything I had read before in how the story resolves.  I liked the epilogue quite a bit as well and thought there was a cute nod to the author's previous work The Bone Houses.  I will say Bone Houses was probably the stronger of these two books.  Still we can't discount the author's creative plots and lyrical writing.  I just think she needs to flesh out her characters more fully to engage her readers.
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3.5 stars
The Drowned Woods is about our main character Mer who is the last water diviner. Mer is in the service of the prince who tricked her into finding his enemy's wells so he could poison them, killing hundreds of innocent people. At the beginning of the book Mer is on the run from him but gets discovered by her old handler and gets her to bring down the prince. 
Unfortunately there was nothing I absolutely loved about this book, nothing really jumped out at me as being fantastic. I liked the characters although none stood out (I mean there is a corgi who stole my heart though). I think my favorite character was Fain (not sure about spelling as I listened to the audiobook). He had been cursed by the other people to enact his own revenge. He just seemed to have the most oomph. 
The pacing and plot felt a little lacking. I liked the beginning, the middle felt very slow and not super interesting and then I really enjoyed the ending. The plot twist near the end really grabbed and kept my attention until the end of the book which didn't happen in the middle. 
I read that the narrator of the audiobook was Moira Quirk which rung a slight bell in my nostalgic brain and remembered that she had hosted GUTS on Nickelodeon which was a fun little tidbit of information. I think she did a great job narrating. Sometimes narrators with accents make it hard to tune into the story, but she didn't. 
This is a standalone, but set in the same world as The Bone Houses which I haven't read. While reading a few reviews, I see that the epilogue of this one tied it in with The Bone Houses in a really cool way, which I obviously didn't understand. It made me wish I had read The Bone Houses first, but now I really want to read it to see how the stories are connected!
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I wanted to love this one. In fact, I expected to love it like I loved the Bone Houses. But I just.... didn't.

It *should* be everything I like. Set in the same world as Bone Houses, a heist with magic, characters with mysterious pasts... But it just felt flat.

I tried reading the book and listening to the audiobook and neither one could keep my interest. In fact, it sent me into a bit of a slump where I just couldn't bring myself to pick up any book because I dreaded returning to this one. It just felt like a slog?

I'm finally calling it and DNFing at 60% of the way through. I mean, if you're 60% into a standalone heist novel and you're still slooooowly introducing characters / gathering the crew and none of them have been fleshed out enough to have personalities (and you can barely remember their names and certainly not what they look like) and you have almost no idea about the bigger picture or more than the sketchiest details about the characters' pasts or the heist itself ...then that’s a problem.

The one thing I did like was the relationship between Mer and her former mentor. There is obviously fondness there on both sides, mixed with quite a bit of mistrust on Mer's and a tendency for her mentor to go into teacher mode and/or fail to disclose critical pieces of his plot so that Mer has to follow him with a dose of blind faith.

In the end, too much is kept a mystery both from the characters themselves and from the reader. Mysterious pasts and gifts and magic and plans can intrigue the reader. But if so much is kept in the dark that all you can do is stumble around hoping to figure out what the heck is going on, it does not make for a pleasant reading experience.

The audiobook narrator, Moira Quirk, is one of my favorites. She has a great range of character voices and a good grasp of the pronounciation of the various Welsh names. However, even her excellent narration can't make up for the foggy vagueness that encompasses this novel. 

*Thanks to NetGalley, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and Hachette Audio for providing an e-arc and audio arc for review.
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I went into this book thinking I was going to love it, and I was not wrong. First, Emily Lloyd-Jones is able to imbue her world with magic and whimsy through beautiful and lyrical prose and lush descriptions. At the same time, her prose is far from purple. It is both down-to-earth and comforting, and also able to instill a sense of wonder in the reader. I enjoyed the Welsh-influences on the tale, probably all the more because of the audiobook. This is definitely a story where I would recommend looking to the audiobook for pronunciation. I think that the musical lilt of the Welsh accent also just adds a whole new layer to the story. 

The fantasy genre needs more sedate quest fantasies, and if you were a fan of T. Kingfisher's Nettle and Bone, you will like this book. It has the sense of adventure that you get with questing, a ragtag group of travelers, and all the conflict and bantering, and betrayals that go along with that. Reading this book was a true delight.
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This is the first welsh mythology book I've read. It was a quick read and not to complicated to understand. Plus it had a adorable corgi in it.  Definitely loved the fairytale story telling vibes it was giving out.
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