The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse. ( Ages 8+ )
By : Brian Farrey
Publisher : Algonquin Young Readers ( April.,2016)
Queen Sula`s kingdom is flowing with prosperity, with rolling fields and verdant farmland rich with golden harvests. The people danced merrily, they have food in plenty and everything else they wished for. They loved their queen dearly and so did the queen. But there is one impediment. To the east of their kingdom between the river and the forest line is a patch filled with darkness where the mysterious Dreadwillow Carse stood, amidst dark Dreadwillow trees. And this darkened world is forbidden to all. Everyone pretended to ignore its existence. ``An oddity, like a treasonous distant relative that was never ever discussed.`` And if a monarch ever enters the Dreadwillow Carse, the monarchy will fall.
Yet it is the utmost need and desire of the peasant girl Aon and the soon-to-be- queen, princess Janiah, to learn the mystery lying behind the doors of the Dreadwillow Carse. And the sharp princess has many reasons to believe why the unexplored Dreadwillow Carse could be a threat to her monarchy.
Every character in the story is well defined and richly illustrated with fine descriptions. One could feel that the twelve year old princess Jeniah is very much a princess, to reign. Her poise, power of authority,well practiced emotional discipline,her sense of responsibility and strengths are quite perspicuous, while her childishness is left unforgettable to the readers. For example her shock of having to reign so suddenly due to queen Sula`s deteriorating health is explained ``Jania locked herself in her bedchambers for three days./ No one disturbed her./ The servants who`s helped raise the young princess left trays of food near her door /....``but no one spoke to the heir apparent ./...........``Jeniah sat in her room refusing to cry, she braided her long black hair with green glass beads /.....but she would not cry..``
The settings share the wonders of magic in the plot,structured in a Medieval-like era, so helpfull in creating apposite atmospheres; The surroundings of Dreadwillow Carse, covered in Dreadwillow trees and carnivorous vines, dark, gloomy and muddy, from inside the darkest depths of the Carse comes a sound of a sad, haunting waltz. This haunted and terrifying setting with a touch of sadness, into which the saddened girl Aon walks, sends goosebumps to us readers.
The story has many elemants of a fairy tale and a fantasy, from the royalty to imps,and a quest for truth involving two heroines surrounded by magical powers. And the enormous curiosity of children is explored to the highest level.Yet, the story delivers some very important messages for thought to the young reader; the first being ``You are your own best teacher``, which comes from Jania`s unusuall teacher Skones, to many more as the story progresses. It also emphasizes the values of strengths and devotion in relationships.But most of all that life`s full of joys and sorrows and not a blissful wonder-world !
Beautiful but uncomplicated narration, with it`s sublime story structure, has a powerful effect on drawing the readers in. This is obviously meant for a smart 7 year old to an average 12+.
(With many thanks to Algonquin Publishers and Net Galley for the ARC copy in return for a honest review )