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Dragon's Keep    by Janet Lee Carey order for
Dragon's Keep
by Janet Lee Carey
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Janet Lee Carey spins a dark fantasy in her newest young adult novel, Dragon's Keep. A happy ending may await, but it is a long, rough ride to get there. In the days prior to Camelot, Uther Pendragon banished his daughter Evaine to Wilde Island with only a sceptor to tell of her lineage. After this exile, Merlin saw it written in the stars that the 21st queen of Wilde Island would end a great war.

Rosalind is this foretold heir. However, she has a slight problem - she was born with a dragon talon where her left ring finger should be. With the help of her mother, Rosie has spent her entire life concealing her flaw while trying to find a cure. During one such cure involving a cunning witch, Rosie learns what caused her defect - her mother drank of a dragon egg in order to gain fertility.

As Rosie's eyes begin to open to her mother's true character, Wilde Island is saved from dragon attacks by Kye, the son of an envoy from the displaced royal family of Britain. Much rejoicing follows this victory, only to be interrupted by another dragon who comes back to snatch Rosie. Held prisoner at Dragon's Keep, Rosie is made nursemaid to four hatchling dragon pips. As Rosie helps rear the pips, she comes to understand dragon culture even though she still longs to escape. During Rosie's stay at Dragon's Keep, the kingdom of Wilde Island begins to crumble and soon it is time for the prophecy to come true, whether Rosie is ready or not.

Carey's tale is much like Princess Rosalind herself at once beautiful and hideous. Her story has much of the magic of a fairytale, but a fairytale of old, where brutal events occur and much blood is let before the moral becomes clear. This is also similar to the legends of Arthur, which Carey uses as a starting point for Dragon's Keep. There are many points throughout the book where Rosie learns that people can be just as monstrous as dragons and dragons can be just as humane as people.

While overall, Dragon's Keep is a good story, the beginning is a little slow and bumpy (not to mention gruesome) and the almost deus ex machina ending is slightly confusing. The middle section, however, grips the reader and creates a lasting impression.

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