It’s my stop on another wonderful blog tour hosted by The Write Reads! For today’s tour, I’ll be talking about a young adult fantasy novel that is the first in what promises to be an action-packed series. It’s filled with magic and intrigue, with sprinklings of Celtic folklore littered throughout. If that sounds interesting to you, stick around to see what I thought about The Girl of Dorcha Woods by Kristin Ward!
But, before I get to my review, I want to thank Dave @ The Write Reads (and all the behind-the-scenes folks!), the publisher, and the author for providing me with a free e-book in exchange for an honest review and my participation in this tour. It is very much appreciated!
Alright, enough intro, let’s dive in!
- Title: The Girl of Dorcha Wood
- Author: Kristin Ward
- Publication date: April 13th, 2021
- Genre: Fantasy
- Age group: Young Adult
- Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com
“Treacherous. Evil. Dark. Dorcha Wood is all of these. 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 Cù-Sìth 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 seventeen-year-old Fiadh, it is home. A 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.”
About the Author
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.
I’ve mentioned before that I do love a book set in a spooky forest. So, when I read that the main character lives in a “cursed” woods, you know I had to give it a go! I’m so glad that I did, too, because this was a fun ride from beginning to end.
Our story follows a young woman named Fiadh. She has spent all her life residing in Dorcha Wood with her mother, learning her healing techniques and communing with the local wildlife. Fiadh loves her home but, to the locals, the woods are a dark, cursed place filled with evil. Even though she is comfortable in her life and the creatures that keep her company, Fiadh sometimes longs to interact with other people. So when she comes upon a man named Gideon who has been grievously injured, she rushes to help him. Little does she know that this chance meeting will turn her world upside down.
Like I said, this was such a fun ride! This book was immediately engaging, pulling me into Fiadh’s world and getting me completely wrapped up in it. I loved the world-building in this story! I felt like the author did a fantastic job of building up the lore and the world without dumping it all in our laps at once. I found myself wanting to know more and more as the story developed. Kristin Ward did a fantastic job of building a world that I can’t wait to explore even more in subsequent books!
Part of what made this book so engaging was the plot. This was a definite page-turner, with intrigue and magic filling the pages and making you want more. I will say there were moments where the pace lagged a smidge, but they usually didn’t last too long. For the most part, I was enthralled from beginning to end! I will also say that there are some pretty graphic and bloody scenes littered throughout this tale, so be forewarned. It’s not the most gory thing I’ve ever read, but it certainly gets dark! Still, I loved watching the story develop and I think it ended in such a great spot. It made me want to immediately pick up book two!
I think my biggest hesitancy with this book was the romance. It was insta-love, which is not my favorite, and the love interest, Gideon, is kind of trash. Well-written trash, but trash nonetheless 😂 And I think I liked him even less because I loved Fiadh so much! I thought she was wonderfully nuanced and felt so real, even in this fantasy setting. She makes mistakes, she has weak moments, but she’s still a fighter and it’s so interesting watching her figure out who she is and what she wants in life. Kristin Ward knows how to write a compelling, complex character. Even trash Gideon had layers to him! He was pushy and possessive but knew how to act like a gentleman when it suited his needs. I’m hoping he’s supposed to represent the type of partner you don’t want in your life. Cause ick.
Final thoughts: This was a definite page-turner, with action and adventure bursting throughout! The world-building was top-notch. I thought the author did an excellent job of developing this world just enough to leave us hungry for more, but not completely unmoored. Though there were bits that felt a bit slower, this was overall an intense ride from beginning to end. It does get a bit dark, so make sure to check out content/trigger warnings. The characters are also brilliantly written, even though the love interest did nothing for me. If you enjoy YA fantasy that blends a coming-of-age tale with magic, intrigue, and a sprinkling of Celtic folklore, I think you would like The Girl of Dorcha Wood!