Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.
The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing… but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.
The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.
Having enjoyed The Bone Houses (a unique take on zombies) by this author, I was excited to see this story is set in the same world.
As one of the few existing water diviners, Mer’s skills are coveted and her life has rarely been her own. After she’s forced to work for a power-hungry prince, he used her abilities to help kill hundreds of people. Since escaping, she’s constantly on the run and is seldom in the same place for more than a couple months. She longs for a home and people to call her own. When her old mentor offers her an opportunity at freedom, Mer jumps at the chance. The catch? It involves a dangerous heist. The two of them round up a team with diverse skills and make a plan. Among this team is Fane, a talented fighter with unusual abilities of his own who’s suffered tremendous losses. His furry companion is Trefor, a corgi and possible spy who stole my heart along with plenty of scenes.
Not all of the team survive the mission, and the plot throws in some unexpected twists along the way. Some of the characters’ actions surprised me, and I love it when that happens. I was determined not to like Mer’s ex-girlfriend and thief-extraordinare Ifanna because of a prior betrayal, but she steps up when it counts and won me over. The ending is absolutely perfect, exactly what I’d hoped, and left me with a big smile on my face.
With a magical well and an ambitious prince bent on toppling kingdoms, The Drowned Woods is very much a dark fairy tale that kept me flipping the pages. I finished it in a day. It’s a quiet, standalone novel that will thrill fantasy fans and corgi lovers alike.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.