Arc Review: The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Drowned Woods
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling / Mythology
Publication Date: August 16th, 2022
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both. The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.” (Goodreads)

I enjoyed The Bone Houses and couldn’t wait to start the author’s latest book. The blurb mentioned a lot of cool aspects that could be found within the book and I was definitely more sold than before. Although I did like a lot of the book, there were things that were just bland and or didn’t grasp my attention as much as I had wanted.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views and I don’t know if it was worth it to have. I did like the past scenes that gave more information on the characters, but it meant less time with the main character Mer. I also wouldn’t saying that knowing more about them actually made me care about them. They kind of had their knack and that was that. When plot twists happened to the characters I can’t say that I felt any emotion towards them. I’m not saying they are bad characters because at times they were funny, but they didn’t keep me motivated.

The author does like animal sidekicks and there is one in this book who is a corgi. I like corgis but frankly, I thought the dead goat was better.

The prologue really pulls you in and is beautifully written. You feel for Mer and her situation and you want to know if she will ever get free from it all. I did like her for the most part but there wasn’t anything that made her stand out compared to other characters in the same genre. The prologue sets up nicely but there was pacing issues for me throughout the rest of the book. Nothing with the heist really happens until a bit after the halfway mark. There is more time talking about a past relationship than the relationship that is mentioned in the epilogue so I’m not really sure why it was mentioned since it felt insignificant. I could probably say that about other plot points as well.

Even though I had issues with the book, I still thought it was a good and quick read. It may not be memorable to me but it wasn’t terrible even if it may sound like that is how I felt, haha.

Overall, it was fine but just not entirely what I was expecting.

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The Bone Houses: Book Review

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36524503._SY475_Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Horror
Publication Date: September 24th, 2019

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Synopsis: “eventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.” (Goodreads)

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My Review:

Here’s the thing, calling an undead being a Bone House is a lot nicer than zombie but it is still a zombie! Also, I am terrified of them and they have been haunting my dreams for 21 years! Seriously, it dates back to Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, ha.

Anyways, enough of my boring background. As a certified chicken, I would say that this book had its creepy parts but overall it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. That’s probably for the best so I wouldn’t have nightmares.

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But, let’s talk about the characters! Ryn is not afraid of death and carries an axe with her to deal with the ones that rise. Just like her father, she becomes the next gravedigger for their town after he goes missing. Ryn and her siblings have suffered a lot of loss and even then the local Lord is also a dillweed to them. She is always trying to protect them and will do everything to make sure they have what they need to live.

Quickly into the book we are introduced to Ellis. There isn’t much that is known about his background and as the plot progresses, so does his background. He is very witty and I enjoyed the humor he produced during the worst times, ha.

Although you would think Ellis would be considered the comedic relief, a goat steals the whole show! The goat is funny, loyal, and her horns pack a punch! No fear for the undead can be found when it comes to her. I always enjoy a good animal companion and this one did not disappoint.

As for the plot, it was fast paced, interesting, and left me wanting more from the characters. I will say that the plot twists were easy to spot out after learning a bit about the curse. I also thought the ending was a tad anti-climatic.

It took until the last book of the page to make me sad. I wasn’t expecting the last couple of sentences to be so impactful but I think it’s what I needed to hear since I am dealing with my own grief.

“And perhaps this was the truth about the dead.
You went on.
They’d want you to.”

Overall, I enjoyed it and I am glad I have the Owlcrate copy because it’s definitely one I would read again.