Mini Audio Reviews: Drowned Woods, Year of the Witching

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on July 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

Mini Audio Reviews: Drowned Woods, Year of the WitchingThe Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Published by Little Brown (8.16.2022)
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, 346 pages
Length: 10 hours, 15 minutes
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Source: Library

1 Stars

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.

The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.

My thoughts

I saw that this book had a connection to Bone Houses, which I enjoyed a lot, so I was pretty excited to read it.

Unfortunately, this one was absolutely nothing like Bone Houses. I wouldn’t even have known they were in the same world if I hadn’t seen it in the synopsis. (I have learned by now that Emily Lloyd-Jones books are very hit or miss for me; and like The Hearts We Sold, this one was also a miss.) They’re not even comparable. If there was a nod to Bone Houses in it, I missed it entirely.

Bone Houses was magical and unique, and felt like nothing I’ve ever read before. This book was one of the most generic, bland, entirely forgettable books I’ve ever read. The plot, the characters…literally everything about this was generic AF and like a million other books that are exactly the same. It’s so generic that when I had a break from the audiobook over the weekend (I listen at work during the week), I legit forgot everything that had already happened and had to think hard to remind myself. That’s pretty sad, just sayin.

I already forget almost everything about this book and it hasn’t even been a week since I finished it. I wish I had DNFed, but I kept holding out hope that it would get better. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.) Skip this one and read Bone Houses instead.

Overall Assessment

Plot: 2/5
Premise: 3/5
Writing style: 3/5
Originality: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
World-building: 1/5
Pace: 1/5
Feels: 0/5
Narration: 2/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall rating: 1/5

Mini Audio Reviews: Drowned Woods, Year of the WitchingYear of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Published by Ace (7.21.2020)
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook, 368 pages
Length: 11 hours, 37 minutes
Narrator: Brianna Colette
Source: Library

2 Stars

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

My thoughts

Holy shit, that was one boring book. That’s my entire takeaway from the whole thing: Meh. Boring AF.

I should have DNFed.

It felt like reading a history book. It was dry and unemotional and I felt exactly nothing throughout this entire book. Which is a shame, because it tackles some pretty heavy topics. It also didn’t stick with me – the details are already hazy. The characters were bland cardboard cut-outs with no personality to speak of.

There were a couple of witchy scenes that had my attention, and if that dark magical vibe would have lasted the whole book I may have enjoyed it more. The rest of it gave me Handmaid’s Tale and Grace Year vibes; but unlike both of those, it was entirely uninteresting.

Overall Assessment

Plot: 3/5
Premise: 3.5/5
Writing style: 3.5/5
Originality: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
World-building: 2.5/5
Pace: 2.5/5
Feels: 0/5
Narration: 3.5/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall rating: 2/5

Jessi (Geo)

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