Hair-raising narrow escapes and unlikely alliances encumbered by bitter, uncertain loyalties abound in this thrilling heist tale by Lloyd-Jones (The Bone Houses), set in a melancholic world of fae magic drawn from Welsh mythology. When farmer’s daughter Mererid was eight, she was taken from her family by cold-blooded human Prince Garanhir for her ability to manipulate water. After years under his thumb, Mer, now 18, has escaped and is horrified by the atrocities that Garanhir committed with her unwitting help. She is soon recruited by former spymaster Renfrew, one of the prince’s closest confidants, for a quest. Renfrew proclaims he has betrayed the prince and is building a team—which includes Fane, a man endowed with magic by the fae; Fane’s pet corgi, Trefor; and Ifanna, a thief from Mer’s past—to pull off a daring caper to destroy the heart of Garanhir’s power, a hidden magical well containing unknown treasures that protect his land. Each of Lloyd-Jones’s characters is plagued by guilty consciences, past grievances, and personal traumas, making for a profoundly detailed, fully formed cast. Tense romantic entanglements, intricate lore, and Trefor’s well-timed comic relief elevate this moody, ethereal read. Protagonists present as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sarah Landis, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)
"Infused with Welsh folklore and mythology, this beautifully written, otherworldly, stand-alone fantasy packs a punch as it examines topics relating to power, agency, and accountability... A gorgeous, intricate fantasy."—Kirkus, starred review
"Tense romantic entanglements, intricate lore, and Trefor’s well-timed comic relief elevate this moody, ethereal read."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This adventurous quest and its unlikely crew will provide an enjoyable escape for readers of all types of fantasy novels."—School Library Journal
“Lloyd-Jones weaves a wondrous tale, one that feels timeless and divine.... This queer-normative fantasy heist novel based on the Welsh myth of Cantre'r Gwaelod is an absolute blast, the kind of book perfect for long plane rides or rainy weekends because you're going to want to read it in one go.” —Buzzfeed
“Thrilling and perceptive, The Drowned Woods blends the most-loved aspects of a heist narrative with meaningful, profound portraits of characters who satisfyingly defy archetypes and expectations alike.” —BookPage
Praise for The Drowned Woods: "Impossible to put down once you’ve started, The Drowned Woods is the perfect book for fantasy readers everywhere. Steeped in Welsh mythology and intricately, beautifully written with characters who live on long after the book is finished, Emily Lloyd-Jones has once again shown she’s a force to be reckoned with in the fantasy genre."—Kailey Steward, Oak Brook Barnes & Noble, Oak Brook IL "Equal parts grounded and magical, The Drowned Woods is another textured, evocative tale rooted in Welsh mythology from Emily Lloyd-Jones that settles into your bones and submerges you fully into its world. Lloyd-Jones crafts a riveting heist where the stakes feel both epic in scope yet intimate for its complex crew of characters. Lovely and mythical from start to spectacular finish!"—Kalie Barnes-Young, Barnes & Noble at the Grove, Los Angeles CA "Dark, but all the best fairy tales are. There's so much anger and betrayal, but also beauty and hope and love and forgiveness and redemption. I can't wait to put this book into the hands of readers."—Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books, McMinnville OR "Lloyd-Jones once again nails the nuances of classic fantasy, but her brilliant character work and flair for turning tropes on their head elevate The Drowned Woods above the expected. This story feels like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign come to life in the best way, and I can't wait for more fantasy adventures from Lloyd-Jones."—Sami Thomason-Fyke, First Regional Library, Oxford MS "Emily Lloyd Jones again displays an intimate knowledge of Welsh folklore and legend while masterfully weaving an epic all her own. The Drowned Woods is thrilling, darkly funny, and sexy, heartbreaking and heart-mending, with an inclusive cast and a keen social conscience. It’s as irresistible as an impossible heist to the city’s princess of thieves—or a stranger’s boot to a certain magic-sensing corgi—and just as satisfying. I read it in one sitting, then immediately cracked open my copy of The Bone Houses for a re-read."—Katie Bircher, Papercuts J.P., Jamaica Plain, MA "The Drowned Woods is a timeless wonder. Pure magic is immortalized in a fiercely told fairytale with impeccable imagery and unforgettable characters. The fabled otherfolk have an unbreakable hold on this one. Listen closely—you never know what lurks in the treacherous depths below...."—Cody Roecker, Barnes & Noble Tanasbourne, Hillsboro, OR "The Drowned Woods is a lush and haunting heist novel inspired by Welsh folklore. Emily's beautiful prose and world building draw you in from the first page. Every character is wonderfully nuanced and unique. As an added bonus, fans of The Bone Houses will be delighted to find another four-legged, heart-stealing sidekick in Trefor the corgi. If you like atmospheric fantasy, high stakes adventure, and a touch of romantic tension, you will love The Drowned Woods."—Gabrielle Belisle, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA
Gr 9 Up—As the world's last living water diviner, Mererid has been branded as the property of the prince and expects to live a life on the run if she is to have any freedom at all. Then Renfrew, the spymaster who was her childhood mentor, proposes a deal she cannot turn down—a chance to have enough money to walk away and never be seen again, if she will just help him with one last task. Along with Fane, a boy cursed by the fae to kill anyone he strikes; his magic-sniffing Corgi sidekick, Trefor; Mer's ex-girlfriend (and Princess of Thieves) Ifanna, and some other less savory individuals, Renfrew and Mer set out to be the first to successfully destroy the well of power that keeps the prince protected and bring him down, once and for all. In this work based on intriguing Welsh folklore, Lloyd-Jones has crafted a dark fantasy heist that maintains a consistently quick pace with gripping action scenes and complex (if somewhat static) main characters, though some side characters feel somewhat dispensable. Mer's fiery temper, sharp tongue, and proclivity for violence are well-balanced by Fane's gentleness despite the curse that makes him deadly. Mer's bisexuality is of no consequence to the other characters in the story, and the dynamic between Mer and her ex, the Princess of Thieves, is rife with angst and emotion. VERDICT This adventurous quest and its unlikely crew will provide an enjoyable escape for readers of all types of fantasy novels.—Allie Stevens
A group of misfits comes together to perpetrate the ultimate heist in a fantasy novel imbued with Welsh folklore elements.
It is a risky plan, one with high stakes, dark magic, and a treacherous journey, but in the end, whoever survives gets a share in a mythical treasure. And if their heist also happens to help remove corrupt Prince Garanhir from power, so much the better. This is how former spymaster Renfrew manages to convince Mererid, the last water diviner, to go along with her old handler’s scheme, especially since it could mean gaining her freedom in the end. Their crew includes Fane, a cursed ironfetch; Trefor, his corgi; and Ifanna, a thief and Mer’s old flame who once betrayed her. As their dangerous journey progresses, the ragtag band realizes nothing and no one is as it seems, and their heist has much bigger consequences than they expected. Infused with Welsh folklore and mythology, this beautifully written, otherworldly stand-alone fantasy packs a punch as it examines topics relating to power, agency, and accountability. It features a twisty plot that is full of surprises, well-developed and grounded characters with fully formed backstories, funny moments as well as deeply emotional ones, a touch of romance—and an adorable dog companion (who survives in the end). Characters are assumed White; Mer is bisexual, and Ifanna is lesbian.
A gorgeous, intricate fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-adult)