Editor Kathy Dawson and Janet at ALA
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Photos by Heidi Pettit
“I see visions in the fire sometimes, images of the past or what is yet to come. The fire-sight does not lie. But I did not see the witch hunter who would ride in to scour our town of sin, so I did not know to run.”
Wilde Island is in an uproar over the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying and the royal witch hunter begins a vengeful quest to hunt down girls with fire in their hearts and sparks in their soul. Strong-willed Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, wants more for herself than a husband and a house to keep. But in times like these wanting more can be dangerous.
Accused of witchery, Tess and her two friends are forced to flee the violent witch hunter. The journey is bleaker than they ever imagined and they have no choice but to accept when an enigmatic huntsman offers them shelter in the dangerous Dragonswood. Staying with him poses risks of its own: Tess has no idea how to handle the attraction she feels for him—or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.
An ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults
Nominated Oklahoma 2015 Sequoyah Book Award (Watch the Video)
I AM SEVEN years old. My father takes me to a witch burning. He runs in close enough to throw sticks in the pyre. The fire roars. The woman, Jane Fine, screams, flames snaking up her gown. Loud cracks of wood or bone. I am crying, choking on the smoke, the burning flesh. Too late Grandfather forces his way in, picks me up, and races back through the mob. I knew Jane Fine. She made pretty candles with flower petals pressed into the sides. They said Jane’s candles blazed with hellfire; that she danced with Satan in Dragonswood. Grandfather holds me close. I weep in his strong arms, bury my head in his cloak. Jane is consumed by fire.
I AM TWELVE years old. I run away, after my father breaks my arm. I creep into Dragonswood, though it is against the law to go there. I have come here before to escape my life, to scale a pine tree and feel the wind. This night I cannot climb; my broken arm is still in a sling. Brilliant shining specks swirl deep in the wood, will-o’-the-wisps fly ahead–tiny fairies, cousins to the ones that are human-sized. I laugh, chasing them. I am filled with a deep longing I have no words for. They dance in magical patterns as I run. In this moment I am free from my raging father, from my mother, who can’t protect either one of us from his anger, from my fettered life in town. I am wild as the fey.
I am laughing. I am crying. The fiery wisps vanish.
I AM SEVENTEEN years old. The sexton is burning a leaf pile in the graveyard. We have come to bury my baby brother, Adam. There are six other graves here, all my baby sisters from years past. My eyes are swollen from crying. I am holding my mother’s hand. I am her only living child. With her other hand, my mother rubs my back. Across the tiny grave my father stands, head down, his first and only son gone to earth. I glare at the midwife whose useless herbs did not save my brother.
Sparks whirl up from the burning leaves. The firelight draws me in. I grow still as still. I cannot feel my mother’s hand. The churchyard fades. All is flame. I know I am being pulled into a fire-sight. I have had visions before. When they come I am transfixed and I cannot look away. In the pulsing blaze I see a man swinging a sword. His body shimmers, green in the flames. I cannot make out his face, all dark shadow in the fire. Light flashes from his sword, cutting bright across my face and chest. I feel the blade’s icy light.
Read The Discussion Questions See the Wilde Island map in MAPS AND GAMES
See the Wilde Island map in MAPS AND GAMES
“A dark fantasy illuminated by piercing flashes of hope...Painful, cathartic and cautiously hopeful; a fairy tale for those who have given up on believing in them, but still yearn for happily ever after... Read more
—Kirkus Starred Review
“[A] perfectly crafted combination of history, mythology, and fantasy. The political intrigue, mythology of Merlin, and romances that bloom are all uncovered with precise timing and will have readers racing toward the end and then going back to savor the events more slowly. Read more
—School Library Journal Starred Review
“Humans, fairies, and dragons coexist in the lush setting (first introduced in Dragon’s Keep, 2007), which is so well drawn it practically serves as another character. As Franny Billingsley did in Chime (2011), Carey uses gorgeous, lyrical prose to illustrate a world of authentic period detail combined with fantastical elements. Although the supporting characters, especially the dragons, are well drawn, a first-person point of view keeps the focus squarely on Tess and her journey. Read more
“Tess plays a critical part in trying to protect Dragonswood and maintain the peaceful coexistence between humans, dragons, and fey folk. This fantasy adventure is extremely fast paced and well-written. Readers will be shocked to discover the true identity of several of the characters and will be surprised by the unsuspecting alliances that they form. Read more
“Romance-starved “Twilight” fans would do well to check out this beautifully written, thrilling fantasy of humans, fairies and dragons . . . Carey has crafted a vivid fantasy brilliantly set amid the harsh realities of life in the Middle Ages”~
—Buffalo News, Books in Brief
“The reader will not only love Tess for her strong heart and self-sacrificing nature, but they will appreciate the fact that, as a strong female, she doesn’t simply fold up into a ball when life takes an unexpected turn – she deals with it.”
—Atlanta Young Adult Literature Examiner
“An amazing and captivating book. It's a gem and I want everyone to experience it!.”
—The Book Faery
“This book has ruined all other books for me! Nothing I think will top this book in 2012 when it is released!”
—Melissa’s Books Goodreads
“ This was an absolutely stunning book.”
—Karissa Eckert Goodreads
“Dragons. Dark Forests. Fey. Magic . . . I fell in love and never looked back.
—Books That Bite