Cover Image: The Drowned Woods

The Drowned Woods

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Member Reviews

Firstly I’d like the thank the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC 🥰😍

The Drowned Woods is the story of Mer, a water diviner who is taken from her family and placed in the cruel hands of a brutal prince who rules with a cruel hand. She escapes him and begins a life of running from everything, she never stays in one place for long until she is found by her former teacher who wants her help with the heist of a lifetime. But the heist isn’t for treasure, it’s for something much more. 

Mer is absolutely magical, she is everything you want in a main character - she is strong willed, she is engaging, she’s queer and she is brilliant. She’s the gel that held the heist group together and for me, she’s definitely a HUGE part of my love of this book.  

I’m also a massive fan of Fane and Trefor, of course!! I have a massive love for fae and his connection to them is a big draw for me. He’s a little odd and a little bit weird which totally endeared him to me and his relationship with Mer is super sweet 🥰🥰

I also really love the way the magic has been described in the book.  It’s so beautifully written and I just love the way anything to do with the water magic is put on the page, it just feels so extraordinary.

I really enjoyed this book, I love the fact that it intertwines all of the six main characters stories into Mer’s, we learn the back stories which connect them all together and by the end it comes together with such a crescendo that leaves you full and satisfied. The idea of a retelling of a Welsh fairytale that’s a heist is just amazing and I know you guys will all enjoy this book too!! Oh and the epilogue is THE BEST!! 😍🥰 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for an E-ARC in exchange for my honest review! 

I finally picked myself up off the floor after finishing this book to write this review. Oh. My. God. This book is so so so good! I went through so many different emotions when reading this book. There was one point where I had to walk away from the laptop (what I was reading on) because I was so close to punching it due to something that a character had done.

The Drowning Woods follows eighteen-year-old, Water Diviner Mererid "Mer" who has been running from the ruthless prince for years. One day, the prince's spymaster turns up with a proposition to take down the prince and get the vengeance she deserves.

Words cannot express how much I loved this book. I honestly wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did so it's safe to say that it exceeded my expectations. I was instantly hooked from the prologue and was drawn into the world and the characters. 

I loved pretty much all of the characters, especially Mer and Fane. They were the absolute perfect duo. 

What I will say about this book, is that it was hard to pronounce some things so I struggled a little but eventually I got the hang of it. I would have also liked to see a bit more of the backstory with the prince and Mer, since I feel there could have been more to it than what we saw.

All in all, this is an amazing stand-alone fantasy and I can't wait to read more from this author.
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Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I thought this was such a great standalone fantasy read with just the right amount of adorable dog thrown in.

I haven't read The Bone Houses and didn't even know there was a connection to that book until I read reviews after I finished up so needless to say, you don't need to have read it either!

There's definitely a darker undercurrent to vibes here so I would think this would be such a great addition to anyone's fall TBR list! Just think elemental magic, a corgi named Trefor, and strangers thrown together for a heist to overthrow a tyrannical royal - what's not to love??
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My favourite part of this book was the main character, Mer is someone who you can relate to and she really draws you into the story. I feel like she was such a strong main character. I don't think there are enough books in the YA catagory that explore different mythology to the usual greek, so exploring welsh mythology was so interested and I'd love to read more stories like that!

Overall this book was super fun, I really liked the characters and love the writing style!
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First of all, there is a corgi who may or may not be a spy. That sentence instantly sold me the book. The Drowned Woods is my first Emily LLoyd-Jones book and I adored the world she created. Also, I requested the audiobook too so I listened to it while I was reading it. That was a whole different experience. As for the story, it had different layers which I really enjoyed. It fills with magic and a little bit of tragedy. I adored the characters too. I think Mer was an interesting character to read. Also, I love the romance which was very little but very well done. I read this story connects to the author's other book The Bone House. I'll definitely check out that book too. If you like heist stories with magic you should definitely give this book a chance. Also, did I mention there is an adorable corgi too.
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I loved this book! It was a unique fantasy story unlike one I’d read before. I loved the magic, the world building, the characters and their arcs - I thought I was growing tired of fantasy and then a book unlike anything I’ve read before will come along and remind me why I love this genre. This is an example of one such book. I’d never read any books by this author before and having read goodreads reviews, saw apparently these characters are connected to others in another of her works; I was able to read and understand this book having no previous knowledge on any of her other works. It was enjoyable, a fast paced read that kept my attention from page 1. Although the subject matter was sometimes heavy, the language style made it easy to read and therefore easy for me to fly through the book in no time.
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.

You get trapped in the story from the prologue alone! 

I enjoyed the magic explained, the relationships between Mer, Renthrew and Fane. I especially loved the corgi.

I loved the concept of the heist but I did think that forming the team was the biggest part of the story and left little for the actual adventure.

Whilst the plot was there, it felt almost secondary. The characters were the main thing and it got a bit repetitive.

I wish we had more interactions with the Otherfolk or with other magic in general.

Overall I enjoyed the adventure, the heist and the twists. A good YA book. But I still feel as though it could have been more.
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Emily Lloyd-Jones has such a way of carving stories. And The Drowned Woods is no exception.

The idea of other-touched, the diviners, is amazing. It provides a new spin on elemental magic that I believe young adult readers will love.

I did find the writing style and language a little stiff, I understand that is to mimic medieval times and the language used within those times, but in certain scenes, it slowed the pacing down and that took away from the overall feel of the book
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What an incredible read! It had me on the edge of my seat, second guessing what i thought I knew. Highly unpredictable and highly satisfying. It is so intelligently written, which makes it impossible to put down! 

Writing aside, i fell in LOVE with the cover. The vibrant colours really draw the eye! It will take centre stage on my shelf! The blurb doesnt give too much away, but perfectly sets up the story, and is intriguing enough to make you read it straight away!
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I really enjoyed The Bone Houses by this author but sadly this book was a big let down. The characters were very generic - we’ve seen them all before. The prologue was very enticing but the rest of the story didn’t hold up. It was forgettable and boring. Nothing particularly original or inventive. Unfortunately this was not for me.
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Usually I know quite well what books I will like and what books I won't. I read the summary, check the genre and if I'm still in doubt then I read a few reviews and then I can usually make up my mind and I rarely read a book I don't like. With this book I wasn't entirely sure. I was curious about this book, I liked the vibe they were talking about, I'm just not a huge fan of heists. However, I decided to request an arc from Netgalley so the Publishergods could decide if this book was for me or not.

I'm really happy that I requested this book and even happier that I got it and got to read it. The world building is amazing! I saw that the author wrote another book in the same world and I now want to get my hands on it, because I feel like I'm far from done exploring these Kingdoms, their magic and everything else. And the best part? The author showed us the world and didn't just talk about it and never bored us with endless descriptions of it.

Despite the fact that heists are normally not entirely my thing, I really enjoyed this one. Mostly because all the characters involved were intelligent and had their own agenda. It kept all the characters on their toes and alert and it meant that nothing was ever easy. I really had the impression that all those characters had to really fight for what they really wanted, had to plan ahead and had to make tough choices. And that made this heist really interesting!

And because the chapters were mostly written from three different point of views I also felt like I got to know these characters well. Since the author doesn't do lengthy info-dumps we never learn EVERYTHING there is to know about them, but I did feel a connection with those characters, I started caring about them and I felt all the emotions they felt. The ending was maybe not a perfectly happy one, but it was a perfect ending for this story.

I'm now going to find that other book set in this world!
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Mer is the last known water diviner and was sold by her family to the spymaster of the prince. Now she is on the run from that prince who forced her to kill so many with her magic. The spymaster, Renfrew, finds her after years and proposes she help him bring down the prince who abused them both.

It starts by giving us a prologue that presents a soft lyrical tone and an electrifying undercurrent of power, a power more prominent as the story develops—introducing a great premise, an adventure with Welsh flavor. The author is a wordsmith when it comes to the descriptions needed to elevate the story and tickle the imagination. Chef's kiss is what applies to the figurative speech. Jones delves into the characters' emotions and serves them with a fierce intensity, a clear picture that envelops the reader.

Mer is instantly likeable, headstrong and as mentioned in the book sporting a contrary heart. She is the result of what she has been through. Dangerous and cautious, seeking through her pain a chance to be like everyone else. To belong. Renfrew is intelligent, thinks tens steps ahead and crafty. Is he looking to be redeemed? Fane is melancholic and 'cursed' with magic. A compassionate soul and a lot more trusting than the other two. Characters you want to put your arms around, not because they are sweet, but because you feel for them. Root for them. There is a whole roster of interesting characters we meet along the way.

The POVs flow into each other, continuing the story with purpose and a far from predictable unfolding of the plot. A dry, unexpected humor seasons the dialogue, smile-worthy wit expressed by some of the characters.

Revenge is a main theme here. Or shall we call it justice? But where does justice end and poisoning revenge begin? Do the ends justify the means? It is also about letting go of the past, forgiveness and thinking of others. And as the book itself says "Choices and cost".

Some parts felt rushed and I do wish things were explained further in them. Part 3 brought the greatest twist but also an unanswered question that needled me to the end. Sometimes it's good to have the reader wondering, sometimes it's not.

You will really appreciate the "Aha!" moment of the title's meaning and those gasp-worth reveals. And I do admit I finished this tale with a smile plastered across my face which is still there as I write this review.
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This was a solid 4 star read for me - fantastic characters, fascinating myth, adventures and action galore! What more could you want?

The Drowned Woods follows Mer, who is a water diviner (she can sense water, find it, and even use is at a weapon). Mer used to work for the Prince, as she was taken by his spymaster as a child and trained to locate wells, not knowing the Prince's ulterior motives. 

Once she realised her powers were being used to hurt people, she ran, but she couldn't hide for long. When Mer's old handler, the spymaster, finds her and asks for he help to bring down the Prince, she can't say no. Mer joins with a gang of allies to carry out the ultimate heist and rid the Prince of his powers and earn her freedom for good.

I went into this book without knowing any of the Welsh mythology behind it, as I thought it had an interesting premise. Well, this book didn't let me down. There was a bit of a slow build at the beginning, as the characters and history needed to be set, but once the story got going it was gripping and thrilling throughout.

The main plot is the heist these characters embark on to bring the Prince down, and their journey is full of excitement. They come up against traps both magical and human on their journey, which offers a fantastic mix of perilous adventure. And the writing is so thorough and detailed that you can vividly imagine every stage of their journey. 

The characters are fully fleshed out and just jump off the page throughout. You can see each characters emotions/motives/thoughts throughout the book, which is impressive seeing as most of the book is from Mer's POV, with a couple other POVs added throughout. You will find yourself loving certain characters and mildly to moderately disliking other characters. Plus, there is a Corgi. Yes, a Corgi, and he is adorable!

Then you have the twists throughout the book. I thought I had this figured out (I'm normally good at figuring out twists) but this kept me guessing. Every time I thought I had the endgame figured out, another twist would come which made me rethink everything that had already happened. And just when you think there can't possibly be any more twists, another comes along. This is a book where, if you re-read, you can see the foreshadowing at play, but on a first read you won't see any of the twists coming until it's too late.

The pacing was great throughout (after a slow start) and even flashback moments don't dull the pace. These flashbacks are placed just right to add much needed backstory to certain scenes, so they only add to the overall plot. 

I also loved the use of magic and myth in this story, Again, I have never heard of any Welsh myths so I went in completely unaware, but the magic and myth were fascinating additions that really made the entire plot and characters much more interesting and exciting. 

Overall, this was a fantastic read, highly entertaining with characters you will love and love to hate.
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art 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!
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I received an advanced reader copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. Thank you to Emily Lloyd-Jones and Hodder & Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to read The Drowned Woods before it’s release. 

In a corrupt kingdom magic is not only sought after, but those who possess it are taken and forced into service by the prince. Mer is one of the people ripped from her family into the service of the crown; soon becoming the last alive with the power to manipulate water. She joins her old handler in a mission to take down the prince. 

I found myself really enjoying the characters of Mer and Fane. Plus, this book features a corgi called Trefor and I absolutely loved it! 

I found the twists within this book to be entertaining, and I really appreciated the mythological elements within this book! I don’t see enough Welsh mythology representation so this was great to see.
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A beautiful cover, and a beautiful story underneath. This is a a Welsh folklore-inspired heist story with magic....and romance. 

I would have much preferred less romance and more platonic friendship relationships but hey ho - also a queer female MC with on-page relationships with a male and another female without downplaying the m/f relationship? Love to see it! 

It was easy to get lost in this world, and the atmosphere was top notch. However, I wanted more from the world building and more interaction from the characters. I also found it quite hard at the start to get into the flow of WHEN the story was taking place - I don't think the change of location or flashback were well written. The magic system and logic of the characters was also a small quibble I had with the book - too much of the book depended on these, and my enjoyment didn't outrank their downfalls unfortunately. 

A solid 3.5 rounded up.
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One of the most humbling reading experiences is when you underestimate a book, read a few pages, and then get your ass slapped with an excellent story. It is the opposite feeling to picking up a book, buying it, and being bored by page 20.  The Drowned Woods by Emily-Lloyd Jones is just that. It's a powerful story woven with old, welsh-myths and a hefty dose of OH SHIT moments. I read most of this book in one sitting.

I have never read Emily-Lloyd Jones before, though I have heard her 'The Bone House" series is pretty good. Besides that, I came into this book expecting very little. I have always loved reading folklore-like stories and so was looking to be whisked away by the story, and in so many ways, this book does that. Mer is a fearsome heroine and personally, I loved her flaws, plus those of the other characters. This book is filled with magic, passion and betrayal --  and the addition of a Corgi tootling on throughout the story was the icing on the cake. Who doesn't like a story with a sassy Corgi in it?

So why not give this book five stars? Primarily, after the 75% breaking point of this story, I (for some time) got bored. The worst had happened, but our protagonists seemed to spend an awful lot of page time running around, figuring out what to do and getting to the right place; climbing over cliffs and up the sides of buidlings. Having said that, once they do manage to finish all that, the stakes immediately increase again and Mer is very much put to the test once. The ending was excellent and was a great way to close the book. According to other reviews, I hear the epilogue relates to something in the Bone House series, but even as someone who has not read it, I still appreciated the epilogue.

Overall, this is a great read if you want some quick, fantasy escapism. If you love folklore and 'village' magic rather than epic battle scenes and blood, this is the kind of book for you. You will adore its characters and the setting; it will make you yearn for the sea, pretty rolling hills, and forests. The stakes are high and it's an adventure just to read it. Though it is slow in parts, it's not so slow that I wanted to put it down. Just prepare yourself to throw your book across the room a few times at its stubborn, brave characters.
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I could not put this book down once I picked it up! Immediately I was drawn into the rich storytelling. I've not read a lot of Welsh folklore so this was a wonderful new experience for me. 

The story follows Mer, the only living water diviner who has an immense value to the prince whos control she escaped and is now living on the run. Until a familiar face from her past manages to track her down with an unresistable bargin- to topple the Prince from his throne and walk away with a life changing amount of treasure. 

The Drowned Woods reads like a fairytale beautifully woven together to take you on an unforgettable journey.
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"In a land of myth, and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. His name... Merlin" ahem... or rather, a young woman, called Mer (short for Mererid).
Set in Cantre'r Gwaelod (a legendary kingdom in Welsh mythology sunk beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay off the west coast of Wales), the Drowned Woods follows Mer, a water diviner. As a child she was taken by Prince Garanhir and given into the care of his spymaster. After her powers are used to help kill innocent civilians in a neighbouring cantref, Mer escapes the Prince. When her old spymaster finds her it's not to return her to the Prince, instead he wants to put an end to his power.
I loved the use of Welsh mythology and the fantastical, historical version of Wales. The main characters are interesting, all with their own secrets and reasons for joining the plot. The star of the show is, without doubt, Trefor the corgi (and possible fae spy). He's the companion of Fane, who made an ill-advised bargain with the tylwyth teg (fae) at a young age, and works for them as an ironfetch - he's been given the power to sense iron (in any form, inc. human blood) so that he can remove it from Annwyvn, the fae lands.
Together with a the rest of the crew, they travel to Caer Wyddno to find the mystical well that hides the princes treasures.
Some of the minor characters aren't as well fleshed out and I think that limits the tension and peril felt during the heist.
The heist section felt like it was over a bit too quickly which was a shame as it had some good creepiness and interesting magical booby-traps.
Overall, I liked how the whole story played out and the twist on the myth of the drowned lands.
An enjoyable, fast-paced, fantasy adventure with a great setting and interesting, loveable characters.
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Thank you Netgalley and the  Publisher for giving me a  copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.

mer is a  powerfull water diviner who was once used by the prince to do something that she will always regret. She teams up witha  group of people and they plan a heist to steal from the prince and mayb e end with him. 

I loved Mer. She is a really well made character who is both complex yet reliable. During the whole book we see her experience different situations and see how she grows from them. The probelem is, there were people from the group thatjust didnt have any personality. We only caught the smalles glimpse about them at the end and i truly could not feel anything about them. It was a pity seeing as if the author had developed certain characters and their story there could have been really ineteresting discussion and situations and everything would have changed completely. The pacing was odd. At first i thought it was slow and then things that felt like filling happened. The ending felt rushed in a odd way yet i liked the epilogue a lot.

I loved the idea and the setting and atmosphere but it felt like it needed more development.
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