DISCLAIMER: THE WRITE READS PROVIDED ME A DIGITAL COPY OF THE NOVEL THE GIRL OF DORCHA WOOD BY KRISTIN WARD IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.
Summary I got from Goodreads:
Treacherous. Evil. Dark. Dorcha Wood is all of these things. And none of them.
The people of Felmore talk of Dorcha Wood in whispers, if they speak of it at all, fearing the wrath of the Cú-Síth should their words be carried on the wind. Those murdering beasts still roam the darkness of the forest, the last remnants of the cursed Aos Sí, a race of elves, long since vanished from the world.
But to Fiadh, it is home. Haven. A forest whose secrets become known only when it chooses to reveal them. Her life is one of balance until the outside world shatters it.
From the moment Fiadh set eyes on Gideon, the peaceful rhythm of her life was lost. As a new path unfolds, Fiadh confronts the reality of old hatreds, the consequences of things hidden, and the truth of who she really is.
Author’s Bio from her website:
Kristin Ward is an award-winning young adult author living in Connecticut. A science and math teacher for over twenty years, she infuses her geeky passions into stories that meld realism and fantasy. Kristin embraces her inner nerd regularly, often quoting 80s movies while expecting those around her to chime in with appropriate rejoinders. As a nature freak, she can be found wandering the woods – she may be lost, so please stop and ask if you see her – or chilling in her yard with all manner of furry and feathered friends. Often referred to as a unicorn by colleagues who remain in awe of her ability to create or find various and sundry things in mere moments. In reality, the horn was removed years ago, leaving only a mild imprint that can be seen if she tilts her head just right. A lifelong lover of books and writing, she dreamed of becoming an author for thirty years before publishing her award-winning debut in 2018. Her first novel, After the Green Withered, is one of many things you should probably read.
My Thoughts on The Girl of Dorcha Wood:
Some novels which are part of a series can stand on their own. It has its complete plot, but then there are elements or events that tie it together with the rest of the series. On the other hand, some works are so dependent on the succeeding parts that a reader gets a cliff hanger at the end of the novel.
The Girl of Dorcha Wood belongs in the second category. I noticed how big chunks of the novel establish the tone of how mysterious and dangerous Dorcha Wood is compared to Fiadh’s perspective – the grass is greener inside the fence. Other parts of the novel give bits and pieces about the different kingdoms and their backstories, race, and creatues enough to entice the reader to continue. This structure opens a floodgate of questios: Why can’t the story be a single long novel? Is it perhaps a genre consideration? Do YA fantasy readers prefer shorter works? It makes me wonder how else Fiadh’s story would unfold that it has to be in a series. That said, the the structure works for The Girl of Dorcha Wood because as a reader, I get that desire to read the second work.
As the protagonist, Fiadh exudes a strong female character vibe (she can communicate with wolves and Cu Sith!) but is unfortunately stunted by events in her life like the passing of her mother and Gideon’s change of heart. I want to see her character develop even further. I would have prefered to see how strong she really is and what makes her special aside from communicating with a mysterious being (Long live the Cu Sith!) and healing. That telepathy with the other predators in Dorcha Wood is one great highlight. Perhaps, her grief and weariness will spur her to hone her skills in the succeeding novels and that’s always exciting to read about.
Darragh’s characterization as an antagonist is so perfect, any reader will hate him and want to see him perrish the most painful way possible. However, in my opinion, he is too perfect which makes me wonder if he’s the main antogonist in the series or someone (Xander) –thing– more sinister is lurking in the background, waiting to pounce. This formula has been used before in some animated movies. Either it happens to be true or not in the next books, I will be patiently waiting.
Gideon on the other hand leaves little to be desired, apart from his physique unless the next installment of the series redeems him. Until then, I refuse to write more about him and his cringey expressions of love.
I like how YA fantasy authors prove the paradox in lore and world-building- they are limitless yet bound to one’s creativity. As a person who grew up reading Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and Dragonslayer, and watching Disney and Pixar movies, I have great expectations for a fantasy work that promises a new world filled with creatures I haven’t met before. The Girl of Dorcha Wood, or at least the first novel meets that expectation so well, I want to get my hands on the second book. Either to tear Gideon’s or Darragh’s face off, I can’t tell tell, who knows? More than that, I’m curious to know how powerful the Cu Sith and Aos Si are, whether Darragh’s mom continues to have this sick relationship with him, and best of all, I want to see Krulan in action again.