Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Book Review: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Daughter of the Forest
by Juliet Marillier
Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.
But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.
When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...
This is one of my favourite books, I have a love of re-told fairytales. But Miss Marillier doesn't just retell fairytales, she takes a story you may have heard of, in this case, The Tale of the Six Swans by the Brothers Grimm, and adds elements that makes it uniquely her own. I think it also has elements of the Celtic tale, The Children of Lir, and if you know either of those stories, you know what terrible spell has befallen Sorcha's brothers, but I won't spoil it here. I also have a bit of a soft spot for this series, since the fictional place of Sevenwaters, according to the maps on Miss Marillier's website, was an actual place in Ireland where I lived growing up.
Daughter of the Forest is set in Britain and Ireland at the time of the druids, before either land became predominantly Christian and magic is just an acceptable fact of everyday life. Sorcha is a wonderful, strong female character, something that seems to be lacking in a lot of other fantasy. Sorcha is under a curse to be silent in order to save her brothers, but even though she is mute for most of the book, you never feel her character is any less essential to the story. I also loved the author's rendition of the Fair Folk, and how at times, what they did could not be considered 'fair' at all, but they had a different sent of rules to humans and what each of them considered 'fair' depended on the race.
There is a bit of history of the conflict between the old and new religions at the time, but everything flows within the story rather than being written as a history lesson. The characters are well-drawn and each have their own part to play in the whole. Miss Marillier's descriptions are breathtaking, with a lyrical quality that transports you to the forest or Lord Colum's hall.
It is a sweeping, epic tale with a bit of love, adventure and romance. This is well-written and kept my interest right until the end (and through the other books in the series too.) If you like books that have a fairytale or otherworldly feel, then give this one a try, you won't go far wrong. It's a wonderful book and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby