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A princess and a peasant girl embark on a dangerous quest to outwit a warning foretelling the fall of the Monarchy. In the center of the verdant Monarchy lies Dreadwillow Carse, a desolate bog the people of the land do their best to ignore. Little is known about it except an ominous warning: If any monarch enters Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall. Twelve-year-old Princess Jeniah yearns to know what the marsh could conceal that might topple her family’s thousand-year reign. After a chance meeting, Princess Jeniah strikes a secret deal with Aon, a girl from a nearby village: Aon will explore the Carse on the princess’s behalf, and Jeniah will locate Aon’s missing father. But when Aon doesn’t return from the Carse, a guilt-stricken Jeniah must try and rescue her friend—even if it means risking the entire Monarchy. In this thrilling modern fairytale, Brian Farrey has created an exciting new world where friendship is more powerful than fate and the most important thing is to question everything.
About the Author
Brian Farrey is the author of the Vengekeep Prophecies series and the Stonewall honor book With or Without You. He knows more than he probably should about Doctor Who. He lives in Edina, Minnesota, with his husband and their cat, Meowzebub. You can find him online at brianfarreybooks.com and on Twitter: @BrianFarrey and on Twitter: @BrianFarrey.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review This is a wonderful book about what it means to be truly happy. The pursuit of happiness is the main goal in life for so many people, and surely living in a kingdom such as the Monarchy, where no-one is ever sad but always joyful must be bliss. Or is it? Where no-one mourns the loss of a parent, no one worries about accidents or missed opportunities – or anything at all. In the whole kingdom, only two girls know worry: the peasant Aon and the princess Jeniah. Both believe they are entirely alone and quite abnormal. Both are drawn to the Dreadwillow Carse – a blot on the otherwise perfect landscape – a place where no-one goes or acknowledges its existence. But for Aon it becomes a sanctuary: “Yet it was here, giving in to her worry and sorrow, where Aon felt less broken. No one would understand her sadness. She could not understand their glee”. For Jeniah it encapsulates the duties of a monarch. All her life she has known the warning, that if a monarch enters the Dreadwillow Carse, the Monarchy will fall, yet she can find no reason for the warning or its origin. Is a warning based on fact or Chinese whispers and mythology? If something is repeated often enough, does it become true? And can Jeniah risk everything to find out? Jeniah has doubts about becoming a good queen, and even more doubts about the way people live in the Monarchy: “What good was the never-ending bliss of her subjects if it meant they could never truly mourn what they lost? Was real love possible without the fear of loss?”, and will the Dreadwillow Carse provide the answers? The Carse holds many secrets, and many surprises – few of them pleasant. But all of them necessary for both girls to learn. This is a unique twist on a fairy tale, that will astound you with its depth.
First off let me begin by saying I love the book and secondly I just want to add that in my opinion this book would make a terrific movie. Having taught the recommended age group I know that they all would be captivated by the story but better yet? I would love as a classroom teacher or a school librarian to read it aloud to my students. I know they would be enthralled by the tale from the very first paragraph to the very last one. The main characters are 12 year old girls, for which I applaud, fabulous to have empowered girls as leads. Both need each other to complete the adventure that is set before them. The duo are full of curiosity, questions, bravery and strength, all components needed to solve the secret of Dreadwillow Carse. In the centre of Emberfell, a place where happiness rules and nobody feels sadness, anxiety, fright, or any other negative emotions, lies the Dreadwillow Carse. This dark forboding bog is strictly off limits to the residents there and has a warning sign that reads: "If any monarch entered Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall." Princess Jeniah longs to know what the bog is hiding that could possibly destroy her family's thousand-year reign of peace and prosperity. She is about to become Queen because her beloved mother is dying so she presses forward to unravel the mystery that hangs over her upcoming duty as Queen for her subjects. The Princess by chance meets a commoner, a girl named Aon, who is different from everyone else who lives in Emberfell. Aon can feel grief and sorrow. She feels the full range of emotions and the only word she can find to describe herself is that is "Broken." She determines herself to go into the carse all on her own to find out why she experiences these feelings. Together the girls devise a plan to send Aon (a surrogate for the Princess) into the deep dark bog and find out what mystery it has been hiding all these years. Each time Aon enters in she gets bolder and bolder. The deeper she goes into the heart of the bog the more clues are revealed to her. Then one tragic time.... she doesn't come back out. Oh my! Poor Princess Jeniah is guilt-stricken and terrified when she is told of her friend's predicament. The Princess rushes off to try to rescue Aon even if the results may lead to the total destruction of her Monarchy. The power of the bond of their friendship trumps the success and continuation of her rule as the next Queen of Emberfell. The plot is very well written and the characters are so believable. The author is always planting ideas in the characters to question, to ask why, to explore their potential, and to share it with others. "The author feels leaders that stop questioning, and just accept the obvious, who say things to be popular, who act purely with good intentions but aren't guided by critical thinking - aren't doing their jobs. Leading is so much more than just making decisions and telling people what to do. Leadership, without empathy and critical thinking, is dangerous. And that's exactly what Jeniah and Aon, in "The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse, come to realize." I highly, highly recommend this book. Good to the last word.