Submissive to her father’s will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves–Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country.
But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta’s tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war.
And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice…and for the one person who can wield it.
-image and summary from Goodreads.com
About the Author
Dragonwitch is the fifth book in "The Tales of Goldstone Wood", a Christian fantasy series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. The events take place some centuries after those of Starflower, and chronicle the rest of Hri Sora's tale.
Buckle your seat belts.
This book is one of my favourites in this series. All of Stengl's books are full of loveable characters, twisting plots, and lovely, lyrical sentences. But Dragonwitch took all the wonderful qualities of the previous books and amped them up a few notches. Stengl has outdone herself with this book.
First of all, the characters. When I first heard of this story and understood a bit of Leta's character, I did not expect to like her that much. Yet she ended up surprising me and by the end of the story, she had made a lasting impact. Her struggle to find her voice while maintaining certain ideals is a struggle I find realistic and with which I empathize. It's so easy to feel that as girls, our voices should remain unheard--we should always be quiet and never speak up. This is exactly what I've been fighting with for the past couple of years, and Leta's fight to find her voice and strength in weakness was beautiful.
Eanrin, the cat-man, and Imraldera, a scribe and librarian, flipped my heart a couple of times through the story--as always.
When I first started reading the novel, I did not like Alistair that much. He seemed whiny and annoying. And then I reach around the middle of the story, and things start happening--and Alistair showed how awesome he was. By the end, I was as in love with him as (-----) one of the other characters. What, thought I was going to let a spoiler slip by? ;)
But what really caught me was Hri Sora and her story. By the end, my emotions had gone through several highs and lows. Hri Sora is one of the best villains I've ever read, because I could empathize with her. I was actually hoping beyond hope that she might reform and be saved. Does she? I won't tell. :)
Secondly, the writing. Some of the scenes--especially the one with Leta and the star--left me breathless with the sheer beauty of it. I think I was even in tears at one point! And the intensity had me gritting my teeth and gripping the computer screen, unable to tear myself away. One scene--involving goblins--was so well-written I felt as though I were creeping through the castle with the characters, trying to escape the onslaught. I couldn't stop reading; I had to see what came next. I could see it all in my head like a movie; could hear the epic, eerie music. I think of all the books, I would love to see Dragonwitch as a movie the most. It just struck me as an epic movie in the making.
Thirdly, the locations. This book revisits locations seen in previous books--and how different they are from when we first see them! One thing I love about this series is that it's like learning the history of another world; you get to see the places and people in different forms, just as our world's history would have been. Nothing is as it is without having been different before--people shape their enivronment quite a bit. And you see the consequences of this on one location in particular, the South Lands, where a horde of fire priestesses have taken hold....
Lastly, the feel of this book is very different from the others in the series. Its scope is wide, with daring escapes, journeys, and lasting consequences for the characters and their world. Even at the end, some strings are resolved but the very last page makes it clear that the story is not completely over. And that is completely fine with me, because that means there are many more Goldstone Wood books to come!
Five GREAT BIG HUGE GINORMOUS STARS!
I received a review copy from NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for that opportunity!
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