Monday, May 24, 2010

Book review: Daughter of the Forest

Daughter of the Forest
An enchanting and fantastical fairytale and love story set in the heart of Celtic Ireland.  

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (Tor Books)
I have to admit that when a colleague of mine lent me this book, I didn't really have all that much hope for it. Sure, she couldn't stop raving about it, but there was something so dull and lacklustre about the cover that it took me a good while to actually get around to reading it.

But, I can safely say that I really, really loved this book.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best fantasy books I've read in a while. Like my colleague, I initially thought that this book was intended for a much younger audience, but I truly think that older and younger readers alike will be completely and utterly charmed by this magical little tale.

The book is loosely based on The Six Swans - which tells the story of a girl with 6 brothers who are enchanted by an evil sorceress and cursed to live as Swans. In order to unbind the spell, the girl has to spin and weave 6 jackets from stinging plants - and endure every moment of the painful task in complete and utter silence.

In this book (which by the way, is the first book in a trilogy), Sorcha, the seventh and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, has to watch as her father is bewitched and blinded by an evil enchantress, witness her brothers being bound by a powerful spell that changes them into swans and take on a task set by the Fair Folk's queen - the Lady of the Forest, in which of course, she has to remain mute.

However,  remaining silent for the duration of the task is no easy feat and when Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken away from the dense, green forest that she knows and loves, her strength of character - she finds -  is only beginning to be tested. And in the midst of it all, love also decides to make its appearance and wreak havoc on the already heavily burden young girl.

Can she stay on the path that was set for her? Or will she succumb to all the forces that are crowding in on her and waiting for her to make one wrong move?

Juliet Marillier has a gift for writing. Not only that, she has a gift for creating characters that are incredibly multilayered, complex and unbelievably likeable. I loved Sorcha's character from the minute I started reading and couldn't help but laugh, cry and rooting for her throughout the novel. She's brave, flawed, strong and courageous and has a strong sense of loyalty towards those that she loves.

That's not the only reason I love this book though. The writing itself is beautifully descriptive; old Celtic folklore coming to life under the hands of Marillier, who demonstrates a vivid understanding of Celtic myths and legends.

The world she creates is filled with magic, legends and wonderfully crafted heroes, while at the same time also managing to create villains that are so dripping with menace, you actually feel like you have to find some hiding spot for fear of having them find you.

All in all, I'd highly recommend this book.

My rating: A well-deserved 5/5 

(I've got to get my rating system into place. The only reason I haven't done so is because I'm just so excited about posting my reviews up asap. Sigh. I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually.)

2 comments:

-k said...

I loved this book too, but the second in the series is my favourite for some reason. If you haven't already, I highly recommend all of Marillier's seven waters books, and especially her YA titles. Plus, she just released a new seven waters book (the fourth).

On a side note though, while your blog template is absolutely adorable, and the content great, the twitter pop-up is rather annoying since it pops up every time you refresh a page or go to comment. I hope that doesn't come off as mean or rude (completely not intended), I just thought that you might want to know.

Happy reading!

thebookfairyhaven said...

I don't think you're being rude at all. I appreciate the advice actually. Think I'll remove it and include a twitter button instead.

OH, thanks for the recommendations. I'm definitely going to read the rest of her novels. She's a great writer.