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Title: A Dragonbird in the Fern
Author: Laura Rueckert
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Genres: YA Fantasy
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.
Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.
Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.
In such a short time, this book totally captured my interest, and it blew me away! I read it while on vacation, and I literally didn’t want to do anything else but read. The premise is so fascinating–the idea of a family having to find the eldest daughter’s killer so her vengeful ghost doesn’t kill them instead is not what I expected to find in a fantasy. That, and I’m a huge sucker for the marriage-for-convenience trope. But it was more than these two things that made me fall in love with the story in a big way.
The first thing that drew me in was Princess Jiara herself. Due to her dyslexia, she has many doubts about whether she can truly help her kingdom after her sister’s murder. Her spunk and desire to find her sister’s murderer and to help her kingdom are really admirable, and I found it really easy to relate to her. Her interactions with her new kingdom (and their king) were heartwarming as she tried her best to understand their customs and language. She has so many struggles, and I loved watching her overcome them.
The romance Jiara has with her new husband was sooooooo gooooood!! I loved their desire to communicate, their patience and trust in each other, and the way they fell in love. It was beautiful. It had great pacing, and just the right amount of slow burn for a standalone novel.
The mystery was super fun to solve alongside Jiara. There were some great twists, and I loved piecing together all the clues at the end. I also really loved the world building–the author brought two very unique cultures and magic systems together on one continent in a way I’ve never experienced before. It was really unique, and I loved exploring it.
I love adding new standalone fantasies to my favorites pile–they’re so easy to reread later on! For fans of fantasy and romance, I highly recommend A Dragonbird in the Fern. This was a surprising standout for me, and I look forward to seeing what the author writes next.
About the Author
Laura Rueckert is a card-carrying bookworm who manages projects by day. At night, fueled by European chocolate, she transforms into a writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy novels. Laura grew up in Michigan, USA, but a whirlwind romance after college brought her to Europe. Today, she lives in Germany with her husband, two kids, and one fluffy dog.