Book: Dragon’s Keep

Dragon’s KeepDragon’s Keep
Janet Lee Carey
2007 (Harcourt)

This book tells the story about the princess who would fulfill one of Merlin’s prophecies: to end war with the wave of her hand. She has finger like a dragon’s claw which her mother is so ashamed of and horrified by that she makes the girl wear golden gloves to hide her hands at all times, saying that only her husband may ever see a princess’ hands. Rosalind has always gone along with this, but as she begins to learn more about her mother and herself, she starts to wonder about it more and more. The island that she is destined to be queen of is plagued by a dragon who indiscriminately kills the people, but a ship arrives to bring them (supposed) salvation. This ship brings much more than Rosalind could have possibly expected. Her story is complicated, fascinating and surprisingly human.

This is a really amazing fantasy novel. It is an incredibly realistic telling of an incredibly fantastical situation. Rosalind is one of the most real and sympathetic fantasy heroines I’ve found in a very long time. I really came to love who she was and be fascinated by Rosalind herself, and not just her story or her role in the prophecy. She was very human and very much a teenager who grew up quickly (which makes perfect sense for the time, place and situation she was in). Carey did a great job. She also did a marvelous job of portraying the world of the island. I loved that she showed us the common people and castle servants as realistically as she did the royal family, it added a lot to the story. Even the dragons were very real, understandable, if extremely un-human, characters. I was incredibly impressed.

One of the major issues in this book is the mother-daughter relationship of the main character and her queen-mother. They have a far from healthy relationship, but it is one that is definitely real. You can see exactly why the mother does what she does and how things got to be the way they are. Carey brilliantly counterpoints it with the relationship we briefly see between Rosalind’s mother’s former maid, Ali, and her daughter, Kit, which is loving and close. This is definitely one of the strongest elements of the book.

I was incredibly impressed with this book and I enjoyed in immensely. I highly recommend it. It’s a great story and a great fantasy. Carey did a great job and I will definitely look for more of her books!

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