Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 1, 2008
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Wilde Islands Chronicles
Source: Swapped through Paperbackswap.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
Prior to reading this book I read, and really enjoyed, Dragonswood. Dragonswood made me want to go back and pick up the first book in the Wilde Island series. The two books are only loosely related (this one takes place quite a while before the story in Dragonswood and focuses on different characters). This was a beautifully written story that moves very slowly.
Princess Rosalind (Rosie to her friends) is born with one finger that is a dragon claw. Her mother goes to great lengths to hide Rosie’s flaw in hopes that Rosie will someday be cured and able to marry Prince Henry. Rosie spends most of her life worrying about hiding her shameful finger. Then she is carried off by a dragon and everything changes.
The writing here is beautiful and I loved the traditional fantasy type of setting. However, the story really takes a long time to get going and moves slowly. I also didn’t like how passive our heroine Rosie was throughout.
Rosie is a very damaged girl and she undergoes some fairly horrific trials. Pretty much one horrible thing after another happens to her. She is one of the heroines where reading about her just makes you tired and sad…too many bad things happen to her.
Given all of her trials I was a bit disappointed in how abruptly and neatly everything was tied up. Despite all Rosie’s efforts it ends up being the word and support of someone else who solves her problem. Then the whole story is tied up in just a few pages at the end. It was an unsatisfying ending; rushed and contrived feeling. The way the ended was done seemed to really make all of Rosie’s suffering seem a bit hollow.
Overall this is beautifully written but slow and hard to engage in. I really enjoyed Dragonswood much much more than this book. Given that I am unsure if I will read the third book in this series or not right now. I would definitely recommend Dragonswood to fantasy lovers, but I think I would skip reading Dragon’s Keep unless you really want to learn the history of what happened before Dragonswood.