Book review by
Karen Wirsing, Common Sense Media
Dragonswood Book Poster Image
Teen girl's bold adventure among dragons, fairies, princes.

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Teaches kids about medieval times, accepting diversity, and fantasy as a genre. 

Positive Messages

Encourages girls to be independent and self-reliant rather than depending on men to act as their rescuers. The story also stresses the importance of environmental awareness and preserving the woodlands, along with all the creatures that inhabit them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tess, the 17-year-old heroine, is a self-sufficient, independent girl. She trusts her intuition and is a loyal and loving friend. Although the book is set in the Middle Ages, a time when women generally didn't read or write, Tess learns to do both as a way to escape the requirement of marriage. 


This book has disturbing scenes in which women -- who, during the time the book is set, were seen as property belonging to men -- are tortured, burned at the stake, and brutally beaten by their husbands and/or fathers. Some of the violence is fueled by alcohol. Tess is accused of witchcraft and tortured in an effort get her to confes to being a witch.


Some kissing and talk of illegitimate children. 


The word "bastard" is used once.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tess' father is an alcoholic who becomes extremely violent when he drinks. Other characters casually drink wine and beer. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Middle Ages-set book has many descriptive scenes in which women are cruelly mistreated. The main character's father beats her so regularly that she's deaf in one ear; it's permanently swollen and shaped like a cauliflower. Witchcraft and evil spells are discussed. People who are accused of being witches are taken to chambers and tortured, burned at the stake, or hung to death. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 16 years old Written by_jolie_ March 18, 2021

An amazing plot based story

This is a great, clean fantasy book. I'd recommend it to anyone 13 or older because there is a lot of witch-burning and torture that's a bit disturbin... Continue reading

What's the story?

Tess is a 17-year-old girl who looks to Dragonswood, the forbidden woodlands of her kingdom, to escape the iron fists of her father. When Tess is seen frolicking in the forbidden fields with her two best friends, Meg and Poppy, she's immediately accused of witchery and reported to Adele, the witch hunter. After Tess is brutally tortured (in an effort to extract a confession that her powers derive from her being a witch), she and her two best friends escape the kingdom to live in Dragonswood among the fairies and fire-breathing dragons. Along the way, Tess, Meg, and Poppy learn that the magical prophecy that Tess' grandfather relayed might hold some truth. The three girls embark on an adventure that uncovers the truth about themselves, their families, and their divided kingdom.

Is it any good?

A medieval fable filled with fairies, dragons, princes, and princesses, this is a wonderful, thought-provoking fairy tale that encourages discussion about diversity and otherness. Dragonswood proves that with faith and education, people can rise above the economic echelon they're born into and find success. The story also stresses the importance of environmental awareness and preserving the woodlands, along with all the creatures that inhabit them. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fantasy as a genre. What do the dragons, fairies, and humans symbolize? 

  • Talk about the difference between medieval and current times. Why were people in the Middle Ages so afraid of women who were healers/doctors and so quick to accuse women of being witches?

  • What are the book's messages about diversity and acceptance? Why are people often afraid of things/people who are different?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Fantasy and Fairies

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