The Drowned Woods
by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Narrated by Moira Quirk
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Pub Date 16 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 16 Aug 2022
Hachette Audio, Little, Brown Young Readers
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.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 23 members
Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by NetGalley, Hachette Audio, and Little, Brown Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
So I LOVED Lloyd-Jones' novel, THE BONE HOUSES so I was very excited to see we were getting another Welsh mythology novel within the same world. I'd never heard of Cantre'r Gwaelod (basically Wales' version of Atlantis) before and now I need to go read more Welsh mythology to find out more!
THE DROWNED WOODS is a book about magic and the fae. It's also about loyalty and sacrifice (both personally and for the greater good). There is betrayal and double crossings... which should be part of any good heist anyway. And how could I not love a novel with a character of a corgi that may or may not be a spy for the fae. Overall I was swept up in the plot, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, and while the ending is somewhat convenient, I'm not mad about it.
I love that in both this and THE BONE HOUSES, there is affection between characters, and there ends up being a romance... but this isn't the main part of the plot. Too many YA fantasy novels are romance heavy, so it's a nice change. There is talk of a past romance between Mer and a woman, and there is literally ONE kiss between two characters on the page. That's it, the focus is on the story and the people, not on having a romance between characters and in some way, that makes the romance that does happen even more believable and realistic.
I hope that Lloyd-Jones has plans to give readers more books within this world. I'm curious about the ending though as there's a tie to THE BONE HOUSES there and now I have more questions I need answered.
Moira Quirk puts in an excellent performance narrating the audiobook and I appreciated being able to listen to this to get the correct pronunciation of Welsh names and places rather than me attempting to read them on my own.
Ahhh, I'm in love with this book!
I know for an absolute fact that I'm not the only person who falls hard for a narrative involving a disparate, ragtag group of eccentric characters who must come together to achieve a certain goal. It's a peak fantasy trope. In a way I'm tempted to compare The Drowned Woods to the Six of Crows duology, but that would be doing it a disservice.
The most notable for me being:
Mer- the untrusting, traumatized bean with a soft heart and a terrifying power. I adored her personality and commitment to making up for the atrocities she was forced to commit while in captivity.
Fane - The most cinnamon roll of a man. Poor guy can't risk having any physical contact without risking his fae curse rearing its ugly head. Seeing him open up to Mer was so rewarding.
Ifanna - The baddest of bad bitches. She's got a history with Mer that's so fun to unravel
Trefor - The most adorable corgi. Obviously the best character. I don't think it's a spoiler to say he's fine, nothing bad happens to him.
Suuuppppper slow burn, almost non existent but powerful. It feels far more realistic than the usual trajectory of YA fantasy romance. Very satisfying and meaningful.
So many if these characters have secrets, man. I guess that happens when you collect a bunch of criminals and outcasts with their own personalities and motivations. While a couple of the little twists and turns were quite surprising there was one major plot twist that was far most obvious. It's fair to say, however, that guessing did not hinder my enjoyment one iota.
Moira freaking Quirk!
My favourite audiobook narrator hands down! All hail Moira Quirk. Loved her interpretation of the characters in Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, obsessed with her work on Gideon the Ninth, worship her character work here. She's just so talented.
Thank you Hachette Audio and Netgalley for the audiobook ARC.
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