This one’s a keeper!

So Many Books So Little Time by Edward Gorey
"So Many Books So Little Time" by Edward Gorey

So, I went  back to the bookstore during my lunch break at work and returned Thief with no Shadows. Felt immensely relieved that it wasn’t too late to get a refund (there was the tinniest scratch at the corner of the book – no, I did not scratch it, I don’t mistreat books like that!!) I bought that book because I wanted to try a new author. But I’m terribly picky when it comes to adding to my book collection.  I actually spent a very long time carefully reading the synopsis of each book, the excerpt at the front of the books, the reviews and awards for the books, and even acknowledged the publishers, all this in order to help me make up my mind which one I’d buy.  I don’t like buying books that end up being the bane of my bookshelf. I’ve done it before with books such as Mother Ocean, Daughter Sea by Diana Marcellas, Never After by Rebecca Lickiss and World Fall by Douglas Niles.  They’re all still on my shelf, in the furthest corner, collecting dust.  Not that they’re bad authors, just I never enjoyed those stories, didn’t find them believable in their context, and never found the characters endearing. The fact that I had bought them made it worst to swallow. Anyway, despite my precautions, didn’t end up enjoying Thief with no Shadows either. All this explains my love of libraries and used bookstores.

Back at the bookstore, I looked at my watch.  I was loath to return from my break early, and I told myself that I wasn’t going to buy anymore books because, with my luck, I was going to end up buying something not so good. I went up the third floor, to my favorite section (fantasy!), browsed there a bit, snuck a look at what other customers were interested in: there was one man who was thumbing through a Terry Pratchett and a girl with a few Anne Bishops in her hand.

Looking looking looking…. finding nothing new compared to last week when I bought the disappointer. Despite this, I refused to leave the bookstore (there was a sale!). Two customer services people had already come over to ask me if they could help me with anything, and I told them I was browsing. After I went through the aisles, I started at the beginning again, desperately searching every single book. You’d think I was looking for real treasure somewhere between the glossy covers of these paperbacks.  Finally, I randomly picked two books: Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey and Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul. Yeah, they both have dragons on the front cover, what are the odds? If you’re wondering, no, I don’t have an obsession with dragon stories in particular. In fact – haven’t read one for a while.  I raced down the stairs ’cause whaddya know, time had passed so quick that I had ten minutes left to leave the bookstore, buy something to eat, cram it down my mouth, and run all the way back to the office.  I always seem to find myself in these dire straits.

So, about the actual book. I’ve just finished Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey. Fantastic! I didn’t even spend the time to go through my usual process of selection. I just bought it on a whim. A dragon-ish whim, apparently.

This novel is about a princess, Rosalind, who spends all her life living in fear of having the secret of her dragon’s claw revealed in a time when the peasantry could grab a hoe or a rolling pin at a moment’s notice and holler “witchcraft” over spilt milk. Everyone around her who finds out about her secret end up disappearing or dead. Her mother is a crazed, poppy-drugged queen who loves her beyond reason. One balmy May Day, Rosalind’s life is totally turned about to a new perspective that changes her view of the world forever and leads her on the path to fulfilling the prophecy surrounding her birth.

The story is full of tragedies, hypocisies and base treacheries of the more serious sort. Janet Carey’s writing made me believe I was in Princess Rosalind’s shoes, and everyday events such as picking fleas out of the hair, to earth-shattering things such as how easily a friend could disappear or die, really gave a sense of the medieval times and the helplessness of the people to nature and their fear of the unknown or inexplicable. She did an excellent job weaving all the witch lore,  medieval beliefs and scraps of great medieval tales (Merlin!!)  into her fantasy world.

Rosalind’s growth as a character was very well developed as well. From her spoilt, closed-in world at the Pendragon Castle on Wilde Island, to the 360 degree turn of her perspective at Dragon’s Keep, from her self-disgust  to her courage, pride and acceptance of that which makes her different. It was wonderfully done.

The only chapter that got me annoyed was the “Witch Trial” chapter. I dislike witch trials. They’re always headed  by those pompous fools who newly get into power, or use other’s fears to get into power, and they twist and twist words until the victim appears an evil-wishing witch.  One of my recurring nightmares is to have my words twisted or come out to seem like something I didn’t mean. When I was in elementary school,  I had a friend who did things like that. She was almost my best friend too, but she had the worst tongue.  I don’t know what happened to her. But, I hate being accused of things I didn’t do or say, especially if I don’t have a chance to explain myself. So, reading this chapter where Sir Magnus kept gagging Rosalind before she could say anything, irked me. *Huffs* Now that that’s off my chest, the fact that I could get so riled up from one chapter of injustice is good proof that Janet Carey writes very well.

This beauty-beast tale set in medaeval times is definitely a good find and a great addition to my library-to-be.

And, today, despite the sudden snow, I bravely set out to my library in order to pick up a copy of Juliet Marillier’s Heir to Sevenwaters that finally, after all these months, has come in! Whoohooh! Can’t wait 😀

Rating: 4.5/5 Dragon fingers you have to hide!

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5 comments

  1. “Janet Carey’s writing made me believe I was in Princess Rosalind’s shoes, and everyday events such as picking fleas out of the hair, to earth-shattering things such as how easily a friend could disappear or die”

    You’ve got me wanting to run out and pick this one up. I’m always looking for good, realistic fantasy (if that makes any sense).

  2. I loooovvveeeddd this book. Made my top list a couple of years ago. I don’t normally do dragons but I am so happy I picked this up. I keep looking for something new by Janet Lee Carey but so far nothing…(I take that back, Amazon says she has one coming in 9/09 called Stealing Death but I can’t find anything else about it). Glad you liked this one, too!

    Casey

  3. Mrs. Hot Sauce To Be – haha its got its realistic style but keep in mind, it’s still a YA fantasy!

    Casey – I looked to see if she had her own website, but she didn’t really! I’m sure her other novels will be great reads too!

  4. That book sounds really good, but it might be a little old for me right now. I also wanted to say that I noticed you have a lot of Edward Gorey pictures on your blog; that artist used to live in my state! I love his work!

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