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A Dragonbird in the Fern

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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 co 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.


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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 co 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.

30 review for A Dragonbird in the Fern

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    2.5 stars This book was fun to read and I couldn’t put it down. I don’t know if it’s a standalone but the last chapter wrapped up the story. There’s still much to explore in the world Rueckert created. I can easily imagine another story told from a different character’s pov. Rounded up my rating to 3 stars because this seems to be a debut. Needs lots of work but not the worst start. After her sister was murdered, princess Jiara decides to do anything to catch her killer. Because you see, ghosts wh 2.5 stars This book was fun to read and I couldn’t put it down. I don’t know if it’s a standalone but the last chapter wrapped up the story. There’s still much to explore in the world Rueckert created. I can easily imagine another story told from a different character’s pov. Rounded up my rating to 3 stars because this seems to be a debut. Needs lots of work but not the worst start. After her sister was murdered, princess Jiara decides to do anything to catch her killer. Because you see, ghosts who don’t get a closure, walk earth and haunt their loved ones until they do what’s necessary for their souls to rest. In this case, it’s catching Scilla’s killer. Except Scilla was engaged to the king, Raffar, of a foreign land and spent her life preparing for that role. Now Jiara is forced to fill her role and marry the king who speaks a language she doesn’t understand. But you see, the evidence leads to an assassin from the country she’s destined to be their queen. What follows is Jiara trying to solve the murder of her sister while trying to learn a new language, be a queen for her new people, and uncovering hidden schemes along the way. Also, ghosts here are really vengeful, it’s not just some superstitions. The characters were easy to like. The book is old from Jiara’s point of view, first-person. What I liked the most that this book features a dyslexic character. They didn’t know what’s dyslexia in her days and Jiara knew she wasn’t stupid. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, she never could study or read like her sister. Another interesting aspect was the language barrier. I have only read a couple of books where the language was a real barrier between love interests from different countries. The book was also fast-paced and entertaining. The world-building was developed well enough for such a book and the author can easily write a sequel but maybe about someone from a different country. The story is pretty much wrapped for our characters here. Now to the cons, while the secondary characters were okay, Raffar had as much personality as a leaf. He wasn’t interesting, he was nice if anything. But not being able to communicate with Jiara worked against them. I saw the chemistry at first but I quickly lost interest in him. His perspective wasn’t needed but maybe he would’ve had more character development? He was overly simplistic. Again, language didn't help here. Also I wish Jiara had some hobby because she wasn't much developed herself either. What did she spend her days doing at the palace in her homeland? Sure, she loved nature but she was also meh. Also, since both are ruling families, we didn't know much about the people's situation in their country. Another thing I didn’t particularly appreciate is that this book featured something I don’t like. I don’t think it counts as a spoiler but I’ll refrain to mention it until the book is out. Let’s say it played an important part in this book and had some significance. It wasn’t used as a mere plot device but had its meaning and role in the story. Which is very rare. Still, I’m no fan especially since it happened more than once.(view spoiler)[ I like the dead to stay.. dead. No reincarnation. And while in this book it was an essential part of the plot, it’s still a huge pet peeve of mine regardless how’s it’s usex. (hide spoiler)] Briefly said, I recommend this book if you’re looking for a light YA fantasy read without intending to make new commitments to any series. The story is fun but nothing extraordinary. It can be easily read in one sitting. I found it overly simplistic sometimes (especially the events leading towards the end) and not very surprising. The plot was predictable but I wish the characters were better developed. It wasn't a book that left anything with me and nothing memorable in this genre. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline Firkins

    A lovely and unique take on the Stranger in a Strange Land story. While Rueckert employs a number of familiar fantasy tropes--an arranged marriage, a chosen one story, a key political betrayal, a vengeful spirit--the novel has a distinct focus on the nuances of language. As a young princess weds the king of another land, she must rely on translators to help her navigate her new home. But how does she know if a translation is accurate until she learns the language, herself? And what if her dyslex A lovely and unique take on the Stranger in a Strange Land story. While Rueckert employs a number of familiar fantasy tropes--an arranged marriage, a chosen one story, a key political betrayal, a vengeful spirit--the novel has a distinct focus on the nuances of language. As a young princess weds the king of another land, she must rely on translators to help her navigate her new home. But how does she know if a translation is accurate until she learns the language, herself? And what if her dyslexia makes learning that language an especially arduous challenge? Not only does language play into her personal journey to adapt to her new culture, it affects the political alliances and antagonisms of several bordering lands. It's through a clever use of language that war can be incited or dispelled, and the key players here aren't the wielders of swords but the wielders of words. Fantasy lovers will also find lush imagery, a determined heroine, a murder mystery, and a hint of romance. It's a lot to pack in the pages, but Rueckert wraps everything up nicely, making this an ideal read for those looking to dive into a single-title fantasy without the commitment to an epic multi-book series. And while no beautiful blue dragons make an appearance, the title has meaningful resonance and the cover is gorgeous.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dana Swift

    I just finished this book yesterday and it was so good! I love what Laura Rueckert did with learning language and dyslexia –so unique. The stakes of this book were so high I read this in two days. A longer review to come!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shannon I The Reel Bookery

    Princes Jiara is a family-oriented 17 year-old looking to find her sister’s murderer. After figuring out the killer’s tattoo, she agrees to marry King Raffar, to find the Farnskag killer. However, as she is falling in love with her Raffar, who was her late sister’s fiancé, she realIzes how hard this transition into new territory will be for herself and her learning disability. This is not my typical genre of choice. I gravitate towards romance, but fantasy and science fiction have never grabbed m Princes Jiara is a family-oriented 17 year-old looking to find her sister’s murderer. After figuring out the killer’s tattoo, she agrees to marry King Raffar, to find the Farnskag killer. However, as she is falling in love with her Raffar, who was her late sister’s fiancé, she realIzes how hard this transition into new territory will be for herself and her learning disability. This is not my typical genre of choice. I gravitate towards romance, but fantasy and science fiction have never grabbed my attention. This debut novel had me captivated. I loved the imagery and the beautiful world the author created for the main characters. The plot is intriguing and has twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing. I hope you like it too! Thank you Netgalley and Flux for the ARC!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura Rueckert

    8/5/2021 A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN is out in the world! Thank you so much to everyone out there taking the time to read and review. It means so much to me! And extra <3 <3 <3 to everyone who crossposts their review to a retail site like amazon or Barnes & Noble - it’s a great way to help us authors. 😊 If you’re looking for signed books, check my website for details. Want to know how the bookplates and bookmarks look? (While supplies last. Spoiler: they’re so pretty!) 6/17/2021 Less than two months to 8/5/2021 A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN is out in the world! Thank you so much to everyone out there taking the time to read and review. It means so much to me! And extra <3 <3 <3 to everyone who crossposts their review to a retail site like amazon or Barnes & Noble - it’s a great way to help us authors. 😊 If you’re looking for signed books, check my website for details. Want to know how the bookplates and bookmarks look? (While supplies last. Spoiler: they’re so pretty!) 6/17/2021 Less than two months to go, so I get to announce A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN’s pre-order campaign! If you’d like a signed book or signed bookplate plus a free bookmark, check out my website for details! https://www.laurarueckert.com/books Curious how the bookmark looks? I showed it off on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/p/CQGeHPPrMUL/ 1/30/2021 I'm so excited to announce that my little book is taking its first steps into the world! Book reviewers, bloggers and librarians: eARCs for A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN are now available for request at the below links! *NetGalley: http://netgal.ly/5sdZoc *Edelweiss+: https://www.edelweiss.plus/?sku=16358... 1/8/2021 A Dragonbird in the Fern is up for preorder! Content warnings can be found on my website. I should have added this back when I had more cover reveal, but better late than never. I was really lucky to get such a beautiful cover! For information on the amazing designer and a collection of links to the fantastic bookstagrammers’ cover reveal posts, check here! 12/1/2020 I can’t wait to share this book with everyone! <3

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lori Kaufmann

    Sneak Preview. It's AMAZING!! Sneak Preview. It's AMAZING!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann Fraser

    This was an amazing read that held my interest throughout. Jiara's struggle with dyslexia and the language barrier was something I have not seen before and was well-executed. The ghost story, romance, fantasy, and intrigue elements were all woven together beautifully. Highly recommend! This was an amazing read that held my interest throughout. Jiara's struggle with dyslexia and the language barrier was something I have not seen before and was well-executed. The ghost story, romance, fantasy, and intrigue elements were all woven together beautifully. Highly recommend!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nichole

    I loved this book! I think it is a perfect YA fantasy book. If I were to pick up a book this is what I would be hoping for. I really love the cover too; it is so pretty. I love that Queen Jiara has a reading impediment that is not named but frequently referred to. It comes across as dyslexia. I think that this is a great representation of how to work toward something you want even if it is difficult

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. This is.... a thing that exists, It's not a bad book, per se. I would more say that it's a very mediocre book with the bones of what could have been an interesting story buried in there. Many of the concepts sound - and could have been - very interesting, given the right execution. The political tension? A ghost waiting to be avenged and all the while slowly losing their grip on humani ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. This is.... a thing that exists, It's not a bad book, per se. I would more say that it's a very mediocre book with the bones of what could have been an interesting story buried in there. Many of the concepts sound - and could have been - very interesting, given the right execution. The political tension? A ghost waiting to be avenged and all the while slowly losing their grip on humanity? Being forced into a marriage with the King from a foreign country, knowing that it was one of his countrymen that murdered your sister? Being thrust into said foreign country with no preparation and suddenly needing to learn their culture/language all whilst struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia? Had these things had the proper execution, this could have been *such* a unique story. Unfortunately, it just fell flat. For example: the ghost plot-line seemed to be an afterthought that was only utilized to ruin random moments of happiness for the character. Jiara would be taking a lovely stroll through an apple field and then, oh crap, lo and behold the ghost has sliced her arm and now we're stressed out about finding the murderer. Until! The very next page once she's (Jiara) completely moved on to being upset that her sister's ex-betrothed and her now-husband is refusing to have sex with her until she's no longer a minor. Because, y'know, when three countries are on the brink of war and your sister's ghost almost killed both your mother and your brother, that's definitely the most important thing we should be thinking about. The most interesting and well executed part of this book was, in fact, the language barrier. This is the first time I've ever seen it brought up in a YA book, which is kinda crazy since everyone's always traveling to new countries/kingdoms. I really liked getting to see Jiara and Raffar's communication grow from nearly non-existent, to stilted, and then eventually blossoming into something more. (I do want to say that I feel like it was hard to connect to Raffar's character due to the language barrier. That might also be because he had no personality aside from tattoos and dead parents but I digress.😌) However, even this grew tiring since it was heavily relied on in lieu of focusing on an actual plot. Nothing really happened up until 75-80% of the way through. And when things were finally allowed to happen, they were so predictable and rushed that it too almost felt like an afterthought. The pacing went from, "learning the customs, gawking over Raffar, learning the language, feeling like a failure, wanting to have sex with Raffar, learning the language some more, OH RIGHT I FORGOT I HAVE A GHOST SISTER, dang Raffar's looking pretty damn fine today👀, did you say we have a prisoner here that could be useful, that elephant bird has it out for me I just know it, time to learn some more about the culture" to "DECEIT AND BETRAYAL AND GUESS WHAT THIS PERSON'S LIFE IS IN DANGER AND also you still kinda have to learn our language? sorry?" and it was just so hard to connect with the story. That being said, if you enjoyed "Sky in the Deep" by Adrienne Young, you might really enjoy this? I kind of feel like they had some (minor) plot similarities as far as themes and character growth went, so if it sounds interesting to you, definitely give it a try! Even though this story and I didn't mesh well, I can definitely see it having its own readers that fall in love with the story and I hope it finds them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie - One Book More

    When Princess Jiara’s sister is brutally murdered before she can marry the king of a neighboring land a solidify an alliance, Jiara agrees to marry in her sister’s place. Jiara’s sister Scilla, now an Earthwalker, won’t be at peace until her killer is found. As Jiara travels to an unknown land with her new husband and learns how to be a queen, Jiara is plagued by communication issues, brewing war, her sister’s impatient and violent spirit, and traitors in her midst. This is such an immersive and When Princess Jiara’s sister is brutally murdered before she can marry the king of a neighboring land a solidify an alliance, Jiara agrees to marry in her sister’s place. Jiara’s sister Scilla, now an Earthwalker, won’t be at peace until her killer is found. As Jiara travels to an unknown land with her new husband and learns how to be a queen, Jiara is plagued by communication issues, brewing war, her sister’s impatient and violent spirit, and traitors in her midst. This is such an immersive and intriguing story! The setting is unique and vivid, and I love how the author paints such a clear picture of each kingdom. Jiara’s home and her husband Raffa’s home are so well-depicted with different customs, faiths, and ways of living and governing, and both are beautiful in their own right. I love how the kingdoms are so different, yet they are similar in their principles and beliefs. The author did a fantastic job of bringing the setting alive and creating a rich and fascinating world. I was particularly intrigued by the different beliefs and religious customs in each kingdom. In Jiara’s kingdom of Azzaria, a person cannot move on and be at peace if their murder is not solved. These Earthwalkers, like Scilla, are fated to roam the earth, becoming increasingly violent and out of control until their death is solved. Jiara’s people also pray to the gods, much like Raffa’s people do. Each kingdom has different yet similar beliefs, and both revere nature. Jiara shows a deep connection with nature and the gods, which becomes increasingly significant as the story progresses. I found it interesting that her faith, as well as her unique connection to nature, is one of the few things that brings balance and a sense of peace to this burdened protagonist. I love Jiara! She is such a fantastic protagonist. Throughout the story, Jiara grows from a sheltered and naïve young woman to a strong and smart leader. Jiara struggles with reading and is so hard on herself for something that is out of her control. People in this world don’t know about dyslexia, and Jiara struggles with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy and believes she isn’t as smart as others who can read easier because of it. The author does a great job of showing dyslexia in such a realistic and relatable way. (Also, if you check out the Author’s Note at the end of the story, Rueckert discusses dyslexia in more detail.) Jiara goes through so much throughout the story – murder attempts, an arranged marriage, and a dead sister whose ghost becomes increasingly violent are just the beginning of her troubles. She also moves to a new kingdom where she knows no one, can’t speak the language, and doesn’t know the customs. There Jiara must figure out how to be a wife and queen, and she doesn’t know who she can trust. I like how willing Jiara is to adapt. She is so selfless and kind, and her inherent goodness stands in stark contrast to many of the nefarious dealings in her world. I also love Jiara’s strong relationship with her family, especially with her sister. Even after death, Scilla and Jiara remain connected. Jiara’s relationship with her brothers and parents is also strong. Like Raffa, family is important to Jiara, and there is nothing she won’t do for the people she loves. With her sister’s murderer still unknown and her sister’s spirit becoming more and more violent, Jiara’s life is always at risk, and she puts her life at risk to protect others. This makes for an exciting and suspenseful read! Some of the other characters are not as deeply developed and complex as Jaira, which feels purposeful. This is a story about Jiara – her quest to find her sister’s killer, her experiences as a new bride in a foreign land, her fears and faith, and her determination to do right by herself and those that are important to her. I love Jiara’s journey and how she becomes more confident, self-possessed, and independent. She and Raffa are so similar in their ideals, and they complement each other well. The love story between Jiara and her new husband is lovely. He and Jiara struggle initially, as they speak different languages and can’t communicate as well as they’d like. However, their actions and tender moments together reveal the growing depth of their feelings. Raffa is an honorable leader who prefers unity to war. He is young, yet sure of himself and his ideals. He has such respect for Jiara, and it’s clear her truly cares for her (and she for him). Their story is sweet, slow-building, and slow-burning, and I enjoyed how they steadily grew closer and fell in love. They have such great chemistry! In addition to the interesting characters and immersive world-building, there is quite a bit of intrigue. Jiara’s determination to find her sister’s killer leads her in directions she never expected, and loyalties, love, and kingdoms are tested. I enjoyed the suspense and political intrigue, as well as the constant threat of Scilla’s presence. The combination of so many different dangers made for an exciting read. A Dragonbird in the Fern is a great book for readers who like standalone YA fantasy with vivid world-building and a well-developed and strong protagonist. Plus, there’s the romance!! Thanks so much to NetGalley, the publisher, and Laura Rueckert for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I can’t wait to read more by this debut author!

  11. 4 out of 5

    ✩ Yaz ✩

    4 - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Goodbye for now, Scilla. We’ll find your killer, and you’ll have eternal peace. I promise. A Dragonbird in the Fern I found to be a delightful read. It had almost everything I enjoy in a fantasy book, lush world-building, court politics, mystery intrigue, and a sweet romance blooming between a couple brought together by an arranged marriage. Princess Jiara of Azzaria and King Raffar of Farnskager. It's a YA fantasy set between fantastical kingdom called Azzaria and Farnskager. While th 4 - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Goodbye for now, Scilla. We’ll find your killer, and you’ll have eternal peace. I promise. A Dragonbird in the Fern I found to be a delightful read. It had almost everything I enjoy in a fantasy book, lush world-building, court politics, mystery intrigue, and a sweet romance blooming between a couple brought together by an arranged marriage. Princess Jiara of Azzaria and King Raffar of Farnskager. It's a YA fantasy set between fantastical kingdom called Azzaria and Farnskager. While the world-building is not complex but it is lush and it was unique in its own right. There was a stark difference between the setting from when the characters where in Azzaria to Farnskager. I felt wholly immersed into the world. The story is narrated through Princess Jiara's POV. She is the younger sister of the murdered Princess Scilla whose killer roams freely while Scilla's soul is trapped on earth. The deceased souls who have not ascended are called Earthwalkers and the longer their soul remains on the earth they become more bitter and violent. They are the equivalent of ghosts haunting their families and even causing them harm until their killers are found and brought to justice so they can find peace and leave the earth. Even with the death of Azzaria's oldest princess and King Raffar's former betrothed, royalty are expected to keep a tough front and do whatever they can for the sake of their Kingdom and thus Jiara finds herself to be betrothed to King Raffar. Jiara is conflicted between moving on to a new life and finding her sister's killer so she can find peace at last and no longer haunt her and their family. What I really loved about Jiara and Raffar's relationship is that it was so sweet and wholesome. There is a language barrier between them and Jiara being a Dyslexic person even though it wasn't a familiar concept to her people, she struggled with learning and understanding his language and Raffar was kind and patient with her. I just adored how their interactions evolved and how they found their way around the language barrier to communicate. The romance is so, so sweet and it has the delicious slow-burn that I enjoy when it comes to arranged marriage couples. I must applause the author for the disability representation in the book. I appreciated the note at the end of the book about Dyslexia and how people with Dyslexia have different experiences with it. In A Dragonbird in the Fern, Jiara is never diagnosed with dyslexia, and her society doesn’t understand it. She lives her entire life mistakenly believing she isn’t as smart as her siblings who can read faster and spell better. While I do feel like I outgrew YA fantasy but this one was a light read and such an immersive read. My only complaint would be that the suspect was easy to predict and the story towards the end felt rushed. I do think a 4-star rating is fair, I did enjoy it!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Glenn Marsh

    "An intoxicating blend of fairytale and ghost story, of romance and sisterhood, A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN is a breath of fresh air with clever worldbuilding and a compelling mystery. Don't miss this one!" A stunning and unique fantasy. Beautiful writing and smart world building. I'm such a fan! "An intoxicating blend of fairytale and ghost story, of romance and sisterhood, A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN is a breath of fresh air with clever worldbuilding and a compelling mystery. Don't miss this one!" A stunning and unique fantasy. Beautiful writing and smart world building. I'm such a fan!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    This is a great YA fantasy novel! I highly recomend it. I can't wait to read more from this author. This is a great YA fantasy novel! I highly recomend it. I can't wait to read more from this author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Athena (OneReadingNurse)

    Thank you so much to North Star Editions via NetGalley for the digital early copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own! A Dragonbird in the Fern is a debut YA fantasy, fast paced and full of magic. I think we can all agree that the cover is absolutely stunning as well. Check out the book and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did! The Plot&Story: the book blurb a great job of summarizing the book. Jiara is betrothed in her older sister’s place, and must overcome her dyslexi Thank you so much to North Star Editions via NetGalley for the digital early copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own! A Dragonbird in the Fern is a debut YA fantasy, fast paced and full of magic. I think we can all agree that the cover is absolutely stunning as well. Check out the book and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did! The Plot&Story: the book blurb a great job of summarizing the book. Jiara is betrothed in her older sister’s place, and must overcome her dyslexia in a strange land while learning the language, winning over the people as a good queen, and solving a murder mystery. I loved the who-dunnit aspect and it was a true race against the clock as Scilla’s ghost got more and more violent, going as far as killing someone. The book is very fast paced as well, not repetitive, and there is blessedly little inner monologue so I was able to read it quickly and rate it 5 stars with no issues. Themes: The book was a little heavier than some YA plots, as Jiara is married at the start of the book and juggling issues that many older characters generally face. She is overcoming a disability while investigating and avenging her sister’s death. There is betrayal on a massive level, lots of plotting, and she must adjust to married life as a 17 turning 18 year old. I liked the themes of family ties, found family, double dealing, international relations, and learning about new cultures and religions while still hanging on to what made Jiara who she is. Bravo too for Rueckert showing the male in the marriage being the one hanging onto honor and personal beliefs in the marital relations department. In King Raffar’s country, adults are considered age 18 and he was absolutely not going to touch Jiara before then, and I just loved that. There was also a lovely found family aspect but let’s do that when we talk about the … Characters: Jiara is a strong young lady, absolutely determined to succeed in establishing international relations, peace, as well as finding her sister’s murderer. On top of that heavy load she is severely dyslexic, so learning a new language is nearly impossible but she perseveres. I feel like she should have just explained to people that she had a real issue, instead of letting them all assume that she just didn’t like to read, but it was Rueckert’s way of showing how people treat those with learning disabilities I guess King Raffar didn’t have a huge role but I loved his boyish charm and awe for magic despite his originally gruff appearance. He is a truly kind and honorable person, and I liked that he was there to support Jiara. He seemed to be the only one NOT getting in her way. The guards seemed to adopt Jiara after a while too, like Freyad and the other soldiers, and it was really nice to watch them come around to her. Most of the side characters did something or another that was special and they are a great lot The Magic and Worldbuilding: For a standalone novel there was an immensely satisfying amount of world building and magic. The magic was in the form of vengeful ghosts, as well as Watchers and deities that had a small but critical role in the book. The giant ferns, playful mounts, and magically lit up lake were small touches in a well described world including scenery descriptions, wildlife, food, weather, architecture to some degree, and cultural things. I loved that everyone had tattoos too. Overall: I can definitely recommend this one for young adults, and it easily crosses over into that new adult phase too I think since she is out on her own and missing home, and adjusting to married life. My favorite parts were the magical touches, Raffar’s personality, the fact that Jiara just NEVER gave up, and trying to figure out who committed the murder. This is an extremely fast-paced standalone and I loved it enough to preorder a signed copy!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Breanna

    THIS REVIEW & MORE → Paws and Paperbacks ARC provided by Flux through NetGalley. 2.5 stars ✨ The premise of A Dragonbird in the Fern sounds amazing and I was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, a majority of the story fell flat and therefore it didn’t end up meeting my expectations. The book has such an interesting plot: Princess Jiara must marry her deceased sister’s fiancé, the king of foreign country, meanwhile attempting to figure out who murdered her sister. Like, could that sy THIS REVIEW & MORE → Paws and Paperbacks ARC provided by Flux through NetGalley. 2.5 stars ✨ The premise of A Dragonbird in the Fern sounds amazing and I was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, a majority of the story fell flat and therefore it didn’t end up meeting my expectations. The book has such an interesting plot: Princess Jiara must marry her deceased sister’s fiancé, the king of foreign country, meanwhile attempting to figure out who murdered her sister. Like, could that synopsis sound any cooler? The biggest issue is that a lot of the story didn’t feel fully fleshed out. The characters felt pretty one dimensional and could have used some more development. Plotwise, nothing really happens until the last quarter and by then it became predictable and a little rushed. A Dragonbird in the Fern had such potential but fell pretty flat. There were still aspects that I enjoyed in the book, such as Jiara and Raffar’s relationship and the language barrier, but for the most part it was predictable and forgettable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Renaissance Kate

    ARC received! So many elements of this book sound so amazing that I can't decide which one I'm the most excited for! Thank you to Flux/ North Star Editions via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. ARC received! So many elements of this book sound so amazing that I can't decide which one I'm the most excited for! Thank you to Flux/ North Star Editions via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Goblin Reaper

    Those no longer here left so much behind. Expectations, reputations. I was provided the opportunity to read and review this great book, thanks to NetGalley. Princess Jiara Ginevoradaag of Azzaria is seventeen years old, with five months to go until she becomes eighteen. She is a bright and smart character, but she has doubts about her reading and writing skills. She feels she isn't good enough and that she isn't as clever as those around her since she is dyslexic without realizing it. Scilla, her Those no longer here left so much behind. Expectations, reputations. I was provided the opportunity to read and review this great book, thanks to NetGalley. Princess Jiara Ginevoradaag of Azzaria is seventeen years old, with five months to go until she becomes eighteen. She is a bright and smart character, but she has doubts about her reading and writing skills. She feels she isn't good enough and that she isn't as clever as those around her since she is dyslexic without realizing it. Scilla, her three-year-older sister, was engaged to King Raffar Perssuun Daggsuun of Farnskag, while Jiara, on her 18th birthday, would become engaged to Duke Marro Berdonando Riccardi of Flissina, northern territory in Azzaria near Loftaria. (OMG I had a hard time typing out those names.)Jiara's world is flipped upside down when Scilla is murdered. Scilla becomes an earth walker, a type of murder victim consumed by anger and capable of harming the living. (And I love, love, love ferocious ghosts.) During the three months of mourning known as the Time of Tears, the Farnskagers arrive early for a prearranged meeting to pay their respects to Scilla. Raffar, who became the ruling king three years ago when he was sixteen after losing his parents, leads the party with his translator, Aldar Anzgarsuun. Queen Ginevora of Azzaria, Jiara's mother, devises a fresh scheme to betroth Raffar and Jiara to preserve the alliance between their nations, as Farnskag requires Azzaria's ports and Azzaria requires them should Loftaria invade. Jiara travels to Farnskag when the two of them marry, which is where the main story begins. Not only is there a lot of political intrigue going on, but Jiara also has to live with her new husband in a foreign country where she doesn't speak the language or understand the culture. On top of that, she is adamant about finding Scilla's killer. There are a couple of times in the story where we see her being vulnerable.  Despite her inability to speak, Jiara put herself out there, and it was amazing to watch her form bonds with her guards and her people. We were also able to witness her tenacity. She was dead set on learning Farnskag traditions and language to track out her sister's killer. She took chances, was hurt, and went to great lengths to discover the murderer. She is a great heroine who will always hold a special place in my heart. Raffar. Oh, Raffar. They may not have known one other well and may have struggled to communicate, but no one can dispute that they were special. It was wonderful to watch their connection blossom over the course of the book. My heartstrings were tugged by Raffar's modest attempts to put her at ease. In this novel, all of the characters are likable. I like how Jiara and Rafaar's relationship was developing. I appreciate that the protagonist isn't flawless and has weaknesses. I also like Jiara's ability to learn how to be a queen and, despite making errors, swiftly learn from them. She's a formidable character. While the main characters were not LGBTQ+, there were queer and trans characters, and because this was a supernatural realm, there was no prejudice or discrimination, which was great.  The story begins in the kingdom of Azzaria, which is located near the ocean on the southern edge of the continent, with Glizerra as its capital. Its relationship with Loftaria, their northern neighbor, is tense. Farnskag, with its capital city of Baaldarstad, is on the other side of Loftaria. Svertya is to the east of these countries, while Stӓrkland is to the west. Although the narrative takes place mostly in Azzaria and Farnskag, all of the nations are represented in some way across the pages. The 2 main countries in the narrative, as well as their peoples, were lively and clearly characterized. And there was no information dump; whatever we learned came to us naturally, piece by little. It began out exciting, but once Jiara arrived at her new home, there was a long period when nothing much happened. She was only trying to fit in, learning a new language and looking for any clues to her sister's death. It wasn't boring, but it moved slowly. There were also no surprises or plot twists. It's written in the first person, which I don't mind, but I wish it alternated with other characters' perspectives. The entire time was spent with Jiara, and we only saw what she did and her own ideas. It would have been more fascinating if more people had been involved. Overall, this was a pretty well-written and well-thought-out story. There's a lot of suspense at the start, especially when it comes to the murder. The author did a fantastic job of keeping the story intriguing as it became increasingly predictable about how it would end.  Jiara's experience, ideas, and feelings were at the core of the tale. In most cases, this would irritate me as a reader, but the author handled it so effectively and with such purpose that I like the way it was written. Even though this is a stand-alone novel, I would like to read more stories set in this universe since it was so beautifully detailed and intriguing. Without a doubt, I would read any and all of this author's books! My only criticism of A Dragonbird in the Fern is that it was a little too straightforward and predictable for me at points. Because I like complicated fiction with plenty of twists and turns, I guessed the narrative twist in this novel nearly right away. I was expecting additional disclosures near the conclusion of the twist to add to the intricacy. However, this had only a little influence on my pleasure of the narrative, and it is highly personal criticism. A Dragonbird in the Fern was an incredible debut novel that I couldn't put down. I was worried that as a standalone fantasy novel, there wouldn't be enough world-building or character development; nevertheless, this novel exceeded my expectations, and I can't wait to read more from this author. I would highly suggest this book to anybody seeking a light fantasy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marcella

    ARC received from Netgalley. The review is 100% honest. I finished this book moments ago and still in awe. I love everything in it, for Jiara is my type of heroine. She didn't dwell in her incapability. She did what she could, one day at a time. I love the background setting! The Watchers and the rituals are both familiar and original. Readers can easily dive into the story and fell in love with the characters. I adore Jiara! Raffar is total sweetheart! I want bestie like Freyad! The plot is intri ARC received from Netgalley. The review is 100% honest. I finished this book moments ago and still in awe. I love everything in it, for Jiara is my type of heroine. She didn't dwell in her incapability. She did what she could, one day at a time. I love the background setting! The Watchers and the rituals are both familiar and original. Readers can easily dive into the story and fell in love with the characters. I adore Jiara! Raffar is total sweetheart! I want bestie like Freyad! The plot is intriguing and refreshing! I have my suspicion about the murderer and was proven right, but the journey there is amazing! I love this book with all my heart! And *spoiler alert!* (view spoiler)[ I even love Aldar's cunningness. He is a perfect snake lol (hide spoiler)]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Lesperance

    This is a beautifully crafted fantasy with stellar worldbuilding and evocative writing. The main character, Jiara, faces some incredible challenges, moving unexpectedly to a faraway kingdom and learning a brand-new language, while also dealing with the aftermath of her sister's murder and fending off her vengeful ghost. I absolutely adore anything to do with ghosts or sisters, so this was my favorite part of the book. So unique and incredibly creepy. The pacing was excellent, and I sped right th This is a beautifully crafted fantasy with stellar worldbuilding and evocative writing. The main character, Jiara, faces some incredible challenges, moving unexpectedly to a faraway kingdom and learning a brand-new language, while also dealing with the aftermath of her sister's murder and fending off her vengeful ghost. I absolutely adore anything to do with ghosts or sisters, so this was my favorite part of the book. So unique and incredibly creepy. The pacing was excellent, and I sped right through the book. Highly recommended for fans of YA fantasy!

  20. 4 out of 5

    mer reads

    Reading vlog: https://youtu.be/5V9m-_qkz9g A Dragonbird in the Fern follows Princess Jiara as she steps in to marry her sister's betrothed after her murder. Jiara learns that Scilla's murderer may be from the King's country and wishes to avenge her death. Jiara must do more than investigate her sister's murderer in her new country, however; she must navigate romance, queendom, and learning a second language with dyslexia. I absolutely love Jiara's character and the dyslexia representation in this Reading vlog: https://youtu.be/5V9m-_qkz9g A Dragonbird in the Fern follows Princess Jiara as she steps in to marry her sister's betrothed after her murder. Jiara learns that Scilla's murderer may be from the King's country and wishes to avenge her death. Jiara must do more than investigate her sister's murderer in her new country, however; she must navigate romance, queendom, and learning a second language with dyslexia. I absolutely love Jiara's character and the dyslexia representation in this book! It is a really interesting choice to use a language barrier as a plot point, and the storyline between Jiara and the king communicating is extremely captivating. There is also a superb balance of magic, politics, and romance. While the novel has a simplistic but interesting magic system, it does not lack in political in romantic tension or political intrigue. A Dragonbird in the Fern feels familiar yet refreshing- I truly believe that fantasy readers of all ages and preferences can find something to love about this novel. This debut is absolutely fantastic- I cannot wait to read more by Laura Rueckert in the future. I would be happy to read a sequel the world Rueckert crafted could easily be expanded upon, but the book ties up well as a standalone. I highly recommend this book to any young adult fantasy reader! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eArc to review- I'm so happy to have read one of my favorite books of 2021!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Di Maitland

    I LOVED this book. It was incredibly sweet but had enough tension to keep me racing through to the end. It reminded me a little of The Goblin Emperor, with its gentle characters doing their best to love and to lead, despite the difficult circumstances. The Premise I thought the premise of the book worked nice. I've not read many books with dyslexic characters, and none where dyslexia plays such a key role in the story. I don't suffer from dyslexia myself, so found it interesting to read a little m I LOVED this book. It was incredibly sweet but had enough tension to keep me racing through to the end. It reminded me a little of The Goblin Emperor, with its gentle characters doing their best to love and to lead, despite the difficult circumstances. The Premise I thought the premise of the book worked nice. I've not read many books with dyslexic characters, and none where dyslexia plays such a key role in the story. I don't suffer from dyslexia myself, so found it interesting to read a little more about what it's like: the exhaustion of trying to read, the words swimming on the page, etc. Writing at the end, Rueckert explains that, whilst she doesn't have dyslexia, she has a number of close acquaintances that do, so I'd hope the experience is reasonably accurate. Add to the already weighty challenge that dyslexia poses the challenge of moving abroad, alone, to a country where almost no one speaks your language, where you're in the limelight and responsible for a nation, where your tutor doesn't know how to teach and doesn't understand your difficulties, and where your sister's ghost punishes you for your failures in finding her killer–you can imagine the tension. I could barely put it down. The Characters Beyond the story, the characters were a big part of why I loved this story. Jiara (17) is a sweet, kind, gentle soul. She cares deeply for others, no matter their station, and finds joy in the small things and the beauty around her. Her deepest desire is to serve and to protect; her deepest fear is that her learning difficulties limit her capacity to do this. Often, such characters come across as pathetic, weak-willed, whiny and annoying. Not so with Jiara. In fact, I felt quite protective off her. She imagines herself stupid but she isn't by any stretch; it may take her longer to learn certain things, but she perseveres and she gets there in the end. And she contributes in so many other ways that it's hard not to love her. "Don't you see? This thinking you should be doing more...it's exactly why you were chosen in the first place. There is no 'just' when it comes to describing you, Jiara." As the story is told from Jiara's perspective alone, it's harder to get a grasp on Jaffar (19). What we do see is a kind, peaceable young man, who's down to earth, willing to work, and trying to do his best for his country. He immediately sees the value of Jiara's heart and is gentle, patient and loving with her. I was a bit fan, right from the start. "Good game." He kissed the top of my head. "Good queen." The Genre A warning: don't go into this book thinking you're getting an all-guns/swords-blazing young-adult romp. You'll be disappointed. Neither should you think of it as epic fantasy, despite the discussions of king and country. Talk of governance is limited and world-building on this front is simplistic and (perhaps overly) optimistic. Instead, look forward to a gentle story about gentle people learning to love and finding a home, despite the challenges. There are beautiful moments–the butterfly picture, for one–and sweet scenes–my favourite when each listened to the other's story of their day despite not understanding a word. Bad things happen, but you know that good will out. 'He didn't understand, but he watched me and listened. Would I recommend this to others? Definitely, and in particular to fans of hopepunk and gentler fantasy romances. Would I read more by Laura Rueckert? Absolutely; sign me up. I love a sweet story with a happy ending. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty perfect for me right now. I received this book free of charge in return for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and North Star Editions.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    I really enjoyed this fantasy novel that features political scheming, vengeful ghosts and emphasises the importance of how we communicate. It’s a unique fantasy novel and I liked how refreshing it was. No epic fantasy battles, but plenty of tantalising romance, politics, betrayal, and a touch of magic. Princess Jiara’s life is utterly changed when her older sister is murdered. Jiara knows they have just months to find her sister’s killer before her sister, left to wander the earth, becomes incre I really enjoyed this fantasy novel that features political scheming, vengeful ghosts and emphasises the importance of how we communicate. It’s a unique fantasy novel and I liked how refreshing it was. No epic fantasy battles, but plenty of tantalising romance, politics, betrayal, and a touch of magic. Princess Jiara’s life is utterly changed when her older sister is murdered. Jiara knows they have just months to find her sister’s killer before her sister, left to wander the earth, becomes increasingly violent. In the midst of this her sister’s intended arrives. Raffar, King of Farnskag, makes a proposition - he will marry Jiara instead and seal their countries’ alliance. The Queen and Jiara agree and Jiara is thrust into a new world. She travels with Raffar to Farnskag, but she must rely on a translator as neither she nor her new husband speak the other’s language. As Jiara travels to Farnskag we learn a little more about her, her relationship with her sister and what she had planned for her future. When her friend and one of her translators has to leave the party, we learn Jiara is a caring person. We also learn how much she struggles with reading and learning. While they never use the word, Jiara has the signs of being dyslexic. It weighs heavily on her mind, especially when she arrives in Farnskag and begins learning their language. Unable to communicate with her new husband, Jiara relies on her translator for everything. Despite the language barrier, Jiara and Raffar make a good match. I loved that we are given a bit of insight into their history and why they might be drawn to each other, regardless of cultural differences. I so enjoyed watching them grow closer and learn other ways to communicate. They develop a sense of trust and comfort. There is also a heightened sexual tension between them as they wait to consummate their marriage. The political rumblings build throughout the story. I saw the betrayal coming but the intrigue of how the plot all fit together was interesting even if it was guessable. I loved, loved, loved that this betrayal didn’t rock the trust between Jiara and Raffar. Alongside the political intrigue was the threads of magic that run through the story thanks to the gods and beings the characters worship. There is of course the ghost aspect and Jiara’s sister haunts her as she tries to find her murderer. This adds a layer of drama and suspense to the story. Dragonbird in the Fern is a beautifully written fantasy novel with important character representation, including invisible learning difficulties, the power of language, and intrigue, mystery and a sweet story of trust and romance. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anatl

    A Dragonbird in the Fern was such a fun lovely and engaging read. Our heroine Jiara life changes dramatically when her older sister is murdered. She is thrust into a political contract marriage in her sister's stead, for which she is ill prepared. Unlike her sister who has spent years studying the language and the customs of the neighboring country, she has to learn as much as she can quickly while her dyslexia makes mustering her own written language hard. The representation of disability is we A Dragonbird in the Fern was such a fun lovely and engaging read. Our heroine Jiara life changes dramatically when her older sister is murdered. She is thrust into a political contract marriage in her sister's stead, for which she is ill prepared. Unlike her sister who has spent years studying the language and the customs of the neighboring country, she has to learn as much as she can quickly while her dyslexia makes mustering her own written language hard. The representation of disability is well incorporated into the story and the growth of Jiara into her new role as queen. All the while there is a growing threat from the unrested ghost of her sister who seems to target loved ones and family at least until her killer is apprehended and she can exact revenge. There is also a budding romance inhibited by the age of our heroine who is just shy of 18. The relationship evolves despite the language barrier in a delicious slow-burn while the king is always respectful of her and incredibly principled and patient. Thanks to Netgalley and Laura Rueckert for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review! I thoroughly enjoyed this debut and look forward to more stories by the author.

  24. 5 out of 5

    doodles

    Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review! I would like to start this off by saying I do not have dyslexia so I personally cannot say how accurate the portrayal of it is in this book. That being said we need more representation of neurodivergent and disabled people in ya books, especially fantasy. We need to acknowledge that they exist in any world, and adding magic doesn’t make them disappear. Do not take this as saying any other genres do not need them. Simply Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review! I would like to start this off by saying I do not have dyslexia so I personally cannot say how accurate the portrayal of it is in this book. That being said we need more representation of neurodivergent and disabled people in ya books, especially fantasy. We need to acknowledge that they exist in any world, and adding magic doesn’t make them disappear. Do not take this as saying any other genres do not need them. Simply that there are very few fantasy books with disabled protagonists or even disabled side characters. Alright so my opinion of the book - 4.5 stars I rounded up and the only reason I didn’t think it was 5 was that Jiara’s grieving process over her sister seemed a bit overlooked and rushed considering her death was a major part of the story. I would’ve loved to see more details on how Scilla’s death affected her other than her now being betrothed. The magic system was a bit confusing at first, but I figured it out and it works really well. I loved how the different views on religion coexisted. The romance, while the language barrier deterred me a bit at first, was honestly adorable once they could communicate. First fantasy book I’ve read with an established age of consent which was a pleasant surprise. Jiara had a friend in this book, her names Freyad and she has a wife whom I loved but also their friendship was amazing. They had a language barrier too but they just had an easier relationship than her and her betrothed. I loved Feyad’s attitude towards life and royals in general. Honestly a mood. The villain was written so well written even from the beginning and I didn’t have a clue until the author basically took a big red marker and wrote “SUSPICIOUS” over their name. Well played even if my ego took a hit. (I’m usually good at guessing who the villain is) tl:dr - We need disabled rep, I loved it, go read it asap

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    I really enjoyed this, the world is unique and interesting and the fact that this is a standalone is great. It seems that the majority of new fantasy books are part of a series so this stands out. It was nice to have a complete story in one book. There weren't any slow parts and everything that happened felt important to the plot. Jiara is smart, kind, and will do anything for her family and people, including marrying her late sister's fiancé. Jiara knows this move is paramount to her country's I really enjoyed this, the world is unique and interesting and the fact that this is a standalone is great. It seems that the majority of new fantasy books are part of a series so this stands out. It was nice to have a complete story in one book. There weren't any slow parts and everything that happened felt important to the plot. Jiara is smart, kind, and will do anything for her family and people, including marrying her late sister's fiancé. Jiara knows this move is paramount to her country's safety so she leaves her home to go to a foreign place where she doesn't know the language or customs. Jiara takes things in stride and works hard to be a good queen, while still investigating her sister's murder. The earthwalker spirits that roam the land were creepy and the fact that they hurt their own families while waiting for justice made me sad. Jiara was trying so hard to find the killer and her sister is trying to kill her because she's so angry. How awful that would be. There were a couple twists in the plot and the mystery of Scilla's killer was entertaining and engaging. I liked Jiara's relationship with Raffar and that it was a slow burn. That was more realistic and the build up was fun. I appreciated their moments together, especially when they were learning to communicate with each other. This is a great fantasy debut and I look forward to seeing what else the author comes out with! I have voluntarily chosen to read and review an advanced copy of this book. Thank you to NetGalley and North Star Editions.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cary Morton

    I received a copy of this book directly from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. 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 I received a copy of this book directly from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. 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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    I loved the world-building in this fantasy debut! Rueckert created two different religious systems and blended them expertly into the cultures of the different countries newly queened Jiara must understand if she's to lead in peace, AND find out who murdered her sister Scilla, who is quickly becoming a pretty scary earthwalker, a ghost consumed by revenge to find her killer. There's a lot going on with high stakes but the pacing flows well so it never reads overwhelming. Jiara is an awesome prot I loved the world-building in this fantasy debut! Rueckert created two different religious systems and blended them expertly into the cultures of the different countries newly queened Jiara must understand if she's to lead in peace, AND find out who murdered her sister Scilla, who is quickly becoming a pretty scary earthwalker, a ghost consumed by revenge to find her killer. There's a lot going on with high stakes but the pacing flows well so it never reads overwhelming. Jiara is an awesome protagonist you want to follow to the ends of worlds. She's brave and kind and is constantly on herself for not living up to her older sister's legacy due to her undiagnosed dyslexia. But she always looks for the Next Best Thing and by opening her heart to her new people, their Watcher religion (while still embracing her own) she learns so much about her own capabilities. Her relationship with the young King Raffar is awesome and sweet and so refreshing. Thank you to the author and Flux/North Star Editions via Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I didn't expect this book to compel me as quickly as it did. We are instantly entered into the struggle the main character is having with helping her sister move on to the afterlife, as disclosed in the blurb. This book engrossed me in a wide variety of details about the fantasy lands it is set in, including Beautiful descriptions of birds, nature, people, and settlements. I was captivated right from the start with the protagonist's journey and truly felt a connection with her. There was also the I didn't expect this book to compel me as quickly as it did. We are instantly entered into the struggle the main character is having with helping her sister move on to the afterlife, as disclosed in the blurb. This book engrossed me in a wide variety of details about the fantasy lands it is set in, including Beautiful descriptions of birds, nature, people, and settlements. I was captivated right from the start with the protagonist's journey and truly felt a connection with her. There was also the perfect amount of swoon for a fantasy novel so that it did not detract from the beauty of the narrative. This fantasy novel also does one of my favourite things in literature: It includes a spectrum of gender pofiles and sexuality in character with no explanation or justification - exactly how the world should be. A very pleasant surprise - this story completely captured my imagination.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

    Heartwarming and gripping. The parallel storylines in this book of romance in a foreign land and a dangerous mystery make this a very engaging read. I particularly like how Jiara's struggle with reading/writing impact both on her powers of communication in a new land and the danger of uncovering the hand behind her sister's brutal murder. The love story between her and her new husband is truly heartwarming - there are some very tender moments where the language divide draws them together - and h Heartwarming and gripping. The parallel storylines in this book of romance in a foreign land and a dangerous mystery make this a very engaging read. I particularly like how Jiara's struggle with reading/writing impact both on her powers of communication in a new land and the danger of uncovering the hand behind her sister's brutal murder. The love story between her and her new husband is truly heartwarming - there are some very tender moments where the language divide draws them together - and her observations of the culture and religious practices amongst his people are compelling. Very enjoyable. Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher North Star Editions and the author for the ARC

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jakki

    I don’t even know where to begin with this review. This book is so special. If I could have given it more than five stars I honestly would. Between ghosts, murder plots, a main character with dyslexia, betrayal, ancient gods, and romance. This book has everything you could possibly want. This was such a fun read and was beautifully executed. I cannot wait for its release this fall so that I can add a copy to my shelves.

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