[ARC Review] The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

3 Things About This Book
| A Motley Crew Carrying Out a Heist | Retelling of Welsh Myth Cantre’r Gwaelod | Filled with Half-Truths, Betrayals and Magic |

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Expected Publication: 2022 by Hodder & Stoughton
Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Book Depository

Part heist novel and part retelling of the Welsh myth of Cantre’r Gwaelod (which is an area of land submerged under the waters of present-day Cardigan Bay), The Drowned Woods is filled with half-truths, betrayals and magic. It follows a motley crew attempting to steal from Prince Garanhir—some for the glory, some for the gold, some to break the prince’s power to gain freedom as the treasures they’re aiming for aren’t just typical ones kept behind a vault in the castle. Instead, these treasures are within a magical well that feeds into the walls of Gwaelod, providing the kingdom and its ruler power and safety.

Now, while it sounds like a bad idea to weaken the defences of a kingdom as the prince isn’t the sole inhabitant, trying to survive as a hunted, runaway diviner can make one just desperate enough to do anything to gain freedom from a cruel prince. Mer, our protagonist who’s desperate to be free and never again be used by the prince to poison thousands of innocent lives, agrees to join forces with her old teacher, the ex-spymaster and together, they gather the rest of their crew before attempting the heist of a lifetime.

Although the majority of the story is the formation of the crew, the multiple POVs kept the tension and pace going. It slowed down a little in the middle but my investment in Mer and Fane, her love interest, powered me through. The most exciting bits were definitely in the beginning and in the last few chapters of the book, though!

Nevertheless, despite my aforesaid investment, I have to admit that all the characters were two-dimensional. Mer, Fane and Ifanna (Mer’s ex-lover) had the makings to be stronger, more impactful characters but they all fell short and remained stuck like the other characters as devices to move the plot forward. I wanted to know what happened to them, but I didn’t particularly care either. The only moment I felt strongly for the characters was near the end and that’s because the most unexpecting thing happened ever (not spoiling it because it’s honestly the best part).

Overall, The Drowned Woods is a quick, enjoyable read. I appreciated the fairytale-like ending and understand that it is what links it to the author’s other book, The Bone Houses, but personally, would’ve preferred that the story hadn’t ended on such a lovely note. Anyway, if you’re looking for a YA fantasy with a BAMF female lead, this one is one you need to give a go!

Thank you so much Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s