Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest (The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Book 1)
Daughter of the Forest
by Juliet Marillier
Published: 2000
400 pages

"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 book uses the German fairy tale The Six Swans, collected by the Brothers Grimm, and sets it in an ancient Celtic setting. The myth seemed to fit really well into the historical and cultural background that the author conceived. The mystical aspects of the plot were quite believeable within this context, making it s good choice for the fantasy genre.
Before I read this book, I was not familiar with the Grimm fairy tale. Since the first portion of the book is mainly to build the world the fiary tale takes place in, I had a difficult time gaining momentum in my reading. I recall attempting to read a novel by Juliet Marillier sometime last year and having the same problem with that book. I am glad I stuck with it, though, because once the six brothers actually became the legendary swans, I found I could not put the book down. The six brothers are all very distinct in personality and Sorcha's battle to save them is both heartbreaking and inspiring. If Sorcha can withstand this torture to her hands day in and day out for over three years, then I certainly can handle washing another dish!
Marillier's style of writing reminds me somewhat of Marian Zimmer Bradley's Avalon series, which happens to be one of my all-time favorites. It is at times flowery and poetic, very much heavy on the introspection, and possessing a reverential awe for the otherworldly.
Not all of the loose ends were accounted for at the end of the novel, but that came at no surprise to me as I know that this is only the first book in a trilogy. I look forward to the next two books, even though I'm sure I will struggle through the beginning just like this one.

The Cover: Simple, but shows several images significant to the plotline - swans both flying and in the water as well as a young girl showing her hands. The cover alone would not likely entice me to pick up the book.

First Line: "Three children lay on the rocks at the water's edge."
Not the best first line for a book, but most people read more than just the first line when selecting a book.

Favorite Quote: "If I were telling this tale, and it were not my own, I would give it a neat and satisfying ending. The children would come home, and their father would geet them with open arms, rejoicing. The wicked stepmother would be punished for the evil she had done, and driven forth from their home. The father and his sons would put all to rights, and everyone would live happily ever after. In such stories, there are no loose ends. There are no unraveled edges or crooked threads." - pg. 372

Read for: Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge, Pages Read Challenge, 1st in a Series Challenge, Fantasy Reading Challenge, Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, Celebrate the Author Challenge, 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge, Take Another Chance Challenge


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