A Dragonbird in the Fern unexpectedly made me so emotional. Jiara’s homesickness and difficultly learning the language resonated deeply with me. And this had to my most surprising read of July! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
A Dragonbird in the Fern is an emotional and action packed supernatural fantasy story. With a fascinating set up of ghosts, political betrayals, and muder, I was hooked from the beginning. Jiara’s character is my number one favorite element of A Dragonbird in the Fern. She immediately found a spot in my heart as I empathized with her difficulty to learn a language, and to be transported to a new home. Of having to figure out who you become when you leave your home. A Dragonbird in the Fern is a story about self-acceptance, self-reliance, and realizing you’re more powerful than you ever thought.
The intense feelings of homesickness, of that terror in leaving your home made my heart ache. I feel like I’ve read so many stories about characters leaving their homes, and while they might not want to, their feelings about leaving home and getting to know the new one have never clicked before for me. I think it’s because A Dragonbird in the Fern explores these feelings so wonderfully. Of feeling unmoored and being unable to call for help?
At the same time, A Dragonbird in the Fern is full of action. A search for a murderer is just the tip of the iceberg. And combined with the action and intrigue, Jiara’s character growth is just phenomenal to read. I became full transported while reading, fully immersed in her perspective. And by the end I was incredibly emotional. Talk about an all around fabulous debut read!
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