Title: A Dragonbird in the Fern
Author: Laura Rueckert
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
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.
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I adored A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert, though I’ll admit, I had some misgivings from the cover. The cryptic title and the cover of the book did little to persuade me to read the book – it didn’t look like any of the books I normally read, but the synopsis was intriguing, so when I picked up this book, I wasn’t quite sure what I was about to be getting myself into. I couldn’t have been more surprised or thrilled to discover this little gem of YA Fantasy.
Not only was the book exceedingly well written, but I fell in love with the characters and the rich worldbuilding. The contrast between the countries and the lore of their people was fascinating and just familiar enough in some ways to make it easy to digest. I liked that the main character was a fallible younger princess with dyslexia that gets thrust into a new role in life she neither expected nor wanted, but she still tried her best, despite how difficult things often were for her.
The story contains a lot of intrigues, ghosts, mystery, awkward political hazards, magic, mythology, romance, and personal struggle, and I think it’d be a great read for anyone who enjoys fantasy or the YA genres. I know I’ll certainly be looking forward to more from this author.