A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert
Be sure to also check out yesterday's Spotlight on New Book Debut Author @LauraRueckert
Hello Operation Awesome readers! My name is Kara Reynolds, and I was a contributor to the OA blog from 2015-2018. OA is a great community with a ton of useful, encouraging information about writing and publishing. I learned so much about writing as I wrote posts and read my fellow members’ posts every week. I’m so proud to have been a part of it!
Sometimes in life, you get a full-circle moment, where you get to see how something plays out from beginning to end. Writing this book review is one of those moments for me. Now, OA isn’t really a book review site, but hopefully it’ll be clear soon why they made an exception.
When I wrote for OA, I ran a regular feature called Tuesday Museday to where I provided a writing prompt and chose a few people from the comments of my post to receive a query letter critique. One of the earliest people to take me up on the offer was Laura Rueckert.
I no longer have our email exchange, but I remember Laura’s query letter being pretty polished. I was intrigued by the concept of a princess with dyslexia having to move to a foreign country to track down her sister’s killer. Laura and I stayed in touch on Twitter, and I’ve kept an eye on her and her writing journey ever since.
Which brings us to today! After years of hard work, Laura’s getting published!
Her book, A Dragonbird in the Fern, releases on August 3rd. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy so I could write this review. While I’m sure the story has been edited many times since I saw that query letter, the heart was the same, and I loved that.
To me, a princess with a learning disability who has to move to a foreign country where she doesn’t speak the language felt like such a fresh hook for a YA fantasy novel. Not only was it a great hook, but it becomes a really important part of the plot. The scope of the worldbuilding was large, with a neat magic system that’s not too complex. Laura could easily write a large series of novels set in this expansive world, yet the book focuses tightly on Princess Jiara’s POV and journey. To me, that was a best-of-both-worlds scenario: tons of worldbuilding, with the deep POV readers of YA fantasy typically enjoy.
I also found a lot of value in the portrayals of sexuality and gender in the book. It’s clear that in the world of A Dragonbird in the Fern, relationships and people are on equal standing no matter what the genders of any of the involved parties are. I like fantasy that features societal conditions we can aspire to, and this fit that bill.
To learn more about A Dragonbird in the Fern, including content warnings (so great to include these!) and buy links, visit Laura’s website at https://www.laurarueckert.com/books. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Thank you, Kara Reynolds!