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A Dragonbird in the Fern
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.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(4.5 / 5) When Princess Jiara’s sister is murdered, she agrees to marry her sister’s betrothed from the neighboring kingdom. Now an earthwalker, her sister Scilla will not be at peace until her killer is found. Jiara marries and travels to the new kingdom. She is confronted with language barriers, new customs, new gods and new everything while battling her dyslexia and investigating her sister’s death.
She battles with her sister’s vengeful spirit, who is angry her killer hasn’t been found. She is increasingly becoming more aggressive, even to the point of killing.
During her investigation, Jiara catches the eye of the Watchers. They are the deity and are very involved in each persons life. Jiara is smiled upon many times which endeares her to her subjects and those around her.
For a debut and a standalone novel I was impressed by the word building. It’s immensely satisfying to see a well formed world that involves such counter balance; the scary spirits vs the watchful deity. I was immersed in the descriptions of the wildlife but also the landscapes and differences in each land.
Jiara is a fabulous protagonist. She is strong but second guesses herself with the language and her right to marry her sisters betrothed. Dyslexia is something she struggles with and feels inadequate because of it. Rueckert does an impressive job making dyslexia more understandable by seeing her struggles. She makes it relatable while showing the struggle and accomplishment at the same time.
And where can I find a drawing of these elephant birds? They intrigued me but I could never quite picture them! All in all, this is a great story with impressive world building and character development. I have a new author to watch!
Content Summary: Look at that! NO language! I’m always impressed when an author can write an exciting story with little to no language. The intimacy involved desire to consummate a marriage (she was 17, he was 21 or so) but they waited until she was 18 and then there was one bedroom scene with a few details then the chapter stopped with no further details. There was some violence and intense scenes, mostly involving a spirit acting out in anger and causing harm to others.
Thank you to North Star Editions/Flux for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.
The book releases August 3, 2021.
Detailed Content Review
Derogatory terms etc-
Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking
Wine is served at a celebration. A young woman partakes.
A young woman is poisoned. It feels like she ingested fire and she passes out, seeing the afterlife.
Strong mead is served at a celebration. It makes a young woman dizzy.
Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty
*Very minor LGBTQ+ aspects included*
An unmarried woman is pregnant.
A young woman worries over her wedding night. After feeling desire for her husband and him for her, a couple decides to wait until she is 18 to consummate the marriage.
A young woman kisses a man. They kiss passionately then she slides her hands up his shirt and he stops her. Quite a few times she wants to consummate the marriage but he refuses.
Two women are married.
Two men are married.
A woman briefly kisses a woman.
A man and young woman (married) passionately kiss on a bed, anxious to be together. They press closely, “her core ached to be closer to him.” He takes off his shirt, then takes off hers and her undergarments. “everything transformed into kisses and quick breaths and burning skin…were caught in the same whirlwind of need and heat and love. And nothing in the world could have made me stop.” No further details.
Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood
Previously, a young woman’s sister was murdered. She was found with six stab wounds to her back.
A young woman’s spirit (earthwalker) scratches and attacks her family.
A woman tells of a family earthwalker once who burned her with a hot fireplace poker but slashed her grandparents, killing them. The woman found them (as a child) and said there was blood on the floor and ceiling.
A wild boar charges a young woman. A man jumps on it and stabs it. Another man helps and stabs its belly as blood runs into the grass.
An earthwalker gives minor cuts frequently. Once, she cuts a man so that he almost loses three fingers. She has thrown objects at people many times and once upturned a carriage causing a large accident with many injuries. She later attacks a young woman causing blood to turn her top red and ooze onto the ground. The young woman passes out and sees the afterlife.
A young woman comes upon the body of a guard, recently killed. A man attacks her with a staff, she fights back. He hits her in the head, knocking her down many times more, her slowly becoming unconscious as blood trickled down her head and back. A man’s forehead is cut from side to side and blood drips into his face.
**SPOILER** A young woman is stabbed in the heart. A man bleeds thick streams of blood from his throat as a javelin is thrown at the back of his throat. He falls, dead.
Potentially Intense Themes
Earthwalker- a spirit of a person who has died. They’re typically angry and can cause injuries. Over time, they get more aggressive.
An “elephant bird” attacks a young woman, cornering her causing injuries.
**Any quotes from the book are taken from the advance copy and therefore may not be fully accurate or correctly compare to the final copy of the book.
**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Yesss i loved this one too and preordered the signed copy!! Bad language is simply lazy writing and this was so good!!
I wish we hadn’t outgrown illustrations! 😂 “well done” to the author for no profanity!
Ah! I’m so glad that you liked this. I’m on the library waitlist for this one.