The Drowned Woods | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"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 is a standalone novel by Emily Lloyd-Jones that is set in the same world as The Bone Houses.
First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for giving me the opportunity to review this in advance. Please note that this in no way affects my opinions. Also note that what I read was an ARC, and things may be subject to change for the official release.
When I saw that the author was coming out with a new book, I put it on my TBR and requested an ARC no questions asked. That is because I adored The Bone Houses and still think that is an underrated gem, so I was expecting to love this one as well.
One unexpected issue I had with that was the fact that because I did not read the synopsis, I went into this not knowing that this was about a heist...and I don't particularly like heist books. And, unfortunately for me, this book ended up being an exception because I didn't end up enjoying it either.
I wouldn't say that I disliked this, but I also didn't like it. This book just didn't give me anything in the end.
Let's get into the details.
This is multi-pov, which I don't think this story necessarily needed. This should have just focused on Mer as the other perspectives didn't add much that couldn't have been figured out through her. It would have made sense if the characters got separated and you had to follow different events, but they were together the entire time so there was just no need.
Other than that though, I thought the writing was fine enough as I had issues with the author's writing style.
The story started off with some good exposition in the form of a tale which I appreciated. That enjoyment continued for a bit as the story was set in motion, but once the ball started getting rolling I ended up losing my interest. By the time I got to the climax, I was enjoying myself even less because I didn't like the direction the story went in. It was just very counterproductive to what the story set out to be.
The sequences of events didn't quite line up well, and there was plot armour in the end as well. Everything ended up being one sudden reveal after another, and it completely threw off the story.
Also, having only read the synopsis as I write this review, I noticed that it spoils something that is not revealed until the end of the book which is...not good.
Finally, though this is the most inconsequential detail, I don't think there was any need to have this set in the same world as The Bone Houses as there is pretty much no connection between the two books.
To get into some details, one thing I thought could have been fleshed out more was the more fantastic elements of the plot. I think the story didn't dig far enough when it came to magic. The point of the story is to find a magical well, but not much is actually said about it as well as the creatures they could encounter along the way.
There are also the otherfolk, who I assume to be fae, and while they had some role in the story, I think it could have been interwoven into the main story a lot more. So, to sum up, I wish the story dove more into the lore of the world.
In all honesty, I ended up not caring about any of the characters. At first, I liked Mer because she was smart, strong, and had a lot of conviction, but her novelty wore off fast. As for the rest of the characters, well, as I said, I didn't really care about them (not even the dog which is kinda sad). No one stood out to me, and I didn't like where most of their story arcs went.
Something else I didn't care for was the subtle romance because they were zero chemistry between the characters and pretty much no development, and there was just no point in having a romance in the first place.
I am sad that this book just didn't end up being for me. Heists are simply not something I gravitate towards, and with the characters being weak as well there wasn't anything in this that held my interest.
If you do like heists then you might enjoy this as well but, for me, I would recommend you pick up The Bone Houses instead.