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The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse

By Brian Farrey

A princess and a peasant girl embark on a dangerous quest to outwit a warning foretelling the fall of the Monarchy.

In the center of the verdant Monarchy lies Dreadwillow Carse, a desolate bog the people of the land do their best to ignore. Little is known about it except an ominous warning: If any monarch enters Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall. Twelve-year-old Princess Jeniah yearns to know what the marsh could conceal that might topple her family’s thousand-year reign.

After a chance meeting, Princess Jeniah strikes a secret deal with Aon, a girl from a nearby village: Aon will explore the Carse on the princess’s behalf, and Jeniah will locate Aon’s missing father. But when Aon doesn’t return from the Carse, a guilt-stricken Jeniah must try and rescue her friend—even if it means risking the entire Monarchy.

In this thrilling modern fairytale, Brian Farrey has created an exciting new world where friendship is more powerful than fate and the most important thing is to question everything.


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Brian Farrey

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Review quotes
Summer 16 Kids’ Indie Next List Pick

“Farrey weaves a captivating and suspenseful tale of the power of female friendship and the pain of growing up. His masterful crafting of Jeniah's character pierces the pampered-princess stereotype, gifting readers with an intricate portrayal of a frightened yet tenacious dark-skinned girl for whom impending responsibility for an entire kingdom hardly feels like a fairy tale. Heart-rending and genuine, this magical coming-of-age story is not to be missed.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A thoughtful, atmospheric fairy tale that tackles the subtleties of ethics and emotions.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“This book is wise and wonderful.”—William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

“Part fairy tale, part seemingly utopian society with a dark underbelly, this is a gripping, compelling story that will leave readers mulling over the ethical questions raised.” —Booklist

“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.” —Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy
“The carse is a dark, foreboding place within a creepily blissful land. Like Aon and Jeniah, I felt myself drawn there . . . A compelling examination of what it means to be sad while finding unexpected happiness.”—Sarah Prineas, author of the Magic Thief series

“Delightful . . . Beyond the detailed worldbuilding and multilayered characterization, what I love about this book is the underlying theme of sacrifice. The protagonist is faced with a heavy burden and a seemingly impossible choice—how she finds the courage to make the right decision is something that will stay with readers. This reminded me quite a bit of classic works by Ursula K. Le Guin and Madeleine L’Engle.” —Kiera Parrott, Reviews Director, Library Journal

“Farrey blends subtle references to racial and sexual diversity with inventive fairy tale worldbuilding and enticing clues to the carse’s mystery. The labyrinth of characters and dilemmas expands as the novel progresses, culminating in a rewarding ending that highlights the importance of embracing emotions, curiosity, and measured choices."—Publishers Weekly
Product Details
Age range
9 - 13
Grade range
4 - 8
Number of pages
Publication date
April 19, 2016