cover image The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse

Brian Farrey. Algonquin Young Readers, $16.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-61620-505-8

Jeniah is only 12, but the impending death of her mother, Queen Sula, means that she faces a daunting task in ruling the Monarchy fairly and keeping its citizens happy. To do this, Jeniah attempts to obey her mother’s command—“You must never set foot in Dreadwillow Carse”—but her curiosity and fascination with magic overcome her. She enlists 12-year-old Aon Greenlaw, who is searching for her father and the Crimson Hoods who took him, to uncover the bog’s mysteries. In letters, Aon tells of her findings in the carse, and the girls learn that while others can easily forget their sadness and lost ones, they cannot. With only her tutor’s bewildering lessons as a guide, Jeniah enters the carse herself and risks her kingdom’s happiness when Aon goes missing. Farrey (the Vengekeep Prophecies series) blends subtle references to racial and sexual diversity with inventive fairy tale worldbuilding and enticing clues to the carse’s mystery. The labyrinth of characters and dilemmas expands as the novel progresses, culminating in a rewarding ending that highlights the importance of embracing emotions, curiosity, and measured choices. Ages 8–12. Agent: Robert Guinsler, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)