Book Review: A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert

About the Book:

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.

My Thoughts:

The story follows Princess Jiara as she deals with the death of her sister, a marriage proposal from the man her sister was previously engaged to and the responsibility to step up for the sake of her family and her people. In addition to this, Jiara has to find a way to uncover the truth behind her sister’s death and bring the murderer to justice.

Initially, I liked the concept of the book and the idea of a vengeful ghost who can actually cause harm was intriguing. As the story progresses, I like how Jiara grows as a person and her distress while trying to read and learn a new language is brought out rather delicately. However, some parts of the story were rather abrupt and the character development was not strong enough. King Raffar is interesting, but the reader doesn’t come to know him as a person. We do not also get a chance to understand how he governs or what he thinks. With a strong focus on Jiara, her struggles and triumphs, it is difficult for the reader to connect with other characters.

In terms of the plot, the author has done a good job and the surroundings are well described. The kingdoms, their locations and the people are touched upon albeit only a little, but enough to give us a sense of the places. Overall this is a light YA fantasy read that has great potential and wraps up quite well in the end. The book can be read quickly and is rather enjoyable for those who enjoy the genre!