Monday, April 18, 2016

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse - a bookwrap


Authored by Brain Farrey

Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7

Unwrapping some Book buzz...

” Farrey weaves a captivating and suspenseful tale of the power of female friendship and the pain of growing up. .”
Starred Review–Kirkus Reviews

“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.”

“This book is wise and wonderful.”
– William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.”
– Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy

Unwrapping the content...

First off let me begin by saying I love the book and secondly I just want to add that in my opinion this book would make a terrific movie.  Having taught the recommended age group I know that they all would be captivated by the story but better yet?  I would love as a classroom teacher or a school librarian to read it aloud to my students.  I know they would be enthralled by the tale from the very first paragraph to the very last one.

The main characters are 12 year old girls, for which I applaud, fabulous to have empowered girls as leads.  Both need each other to complete the adventure that is set before them.  The duo are full of curiosity, questions, bravery and strength, all  components needed to solve the secret of Dreadwillow Carse.

In the centre of Emberfell, a place where happiness rules and nobody feels sadness, anxiety, fright, or any other negative emotions, lies the Dreadwillow Carse.  This dark forboding bog is strictly off limits to the residents there and has a warning sign that reads:  "If any monarch entered Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall."  

Princess Jeniah longs to know what the bog is hiding that could possibly destroy her family's thousand-year reign of peace and prosperity. She is about to become Queen because her beloved mother is dying so she presses forward to unravel the mystery that hangs over her upcoming duty as Queen for her subjects.  

The Princess by chance meets a commoner, a girl named Aon, who is different from everyone else who lives in Emberfell.  Aon can feel grief and sorrow.  She feels the full range of emotions and the only word she can find to describe herself is that is "Broken."  She determines herself to go into the carse all on her own to find out why she experiences these feelings.  Together the girls devise a plan to send Aon (a surrogate for the Princess) into the deep dark   bog and find out what mystery it has been hiding all these years.  

 Each time Aon enters in she gets bolder and bolder.  The deeper she goes into the heart of the bog the more clues are revealed to her.  Then one tragic time.... she doesn't come back out.  Oh my!  Poor Princess Jeniah is guilt-stricken and terrified when she is told of her friend's predicament. The Princess rushes off to try to rescue Aon even if the results may lead to the total destruction of her Monarchy.  The power of the bond of their friendship trumps the success and continuation of her rule as the next Queen of Emberfell.  

The plot is very well written and the characters are so believable.  The author is always planting ideas in the characters to question, to ask why, to explore their potential, and to share it with others.  

"The author feels leaders that stop questioning, and just accept the obvious, who say things to be popular, who act purely with good intentions but aren't guided by critical thinking - aren't doing their jobs.  Leading is so much more than just making decisions and telling people what to do. Leadership, without empathy and critical thinking, is dangerous. And that's exactly what Jeniah and Aon, in "The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse, come to realize."

I highly, highly recommend this book.  Good to the last word.


About the author...

Brian Farrey is the author of the Vengekeep Prophecies series and the Stonewall honor book With Or Without You. He knows more than he probably should about Doctor Who. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his husband and their cat, Meowzebub.

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