Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Sorcha is the seventh child of a seventh son, Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Her elder six brothers adore and watch out for her as her mother died delivering her. Her life has been happy and full of wonderment until her father becomes enamored of a wicked sorceress who has him under her spell. Things begin to change quickly for Sorcha as her stepmother seeks to control their lives and pit father, brother and sister against one another. In an act of true inhumanity, the stepmother transforms Sorcha's six brothers into swans and Sorcha's only hope of lifting the curse is to weave six shirts, one for each brother, out of the painful starwort nettle and to not utter a word until her task is complete. Agreeing to the monumental task, Sorcha sets off on a long road full of suffering to restore her brothers and her family. But along the way she meets those will aid and alter her story forever.

Set in a pre-Christian Ireland, Marillier's work is full of Celtic mythology and descriptions of people and place that I felt myself right there along Sorcha as she traveled across the land. Marillier's characters never have a easy time of things and this book is certainly no exception - Sorcha pays dearly to gain what she wants with many casualties along the way. This was no easy read for me and is definitely recommended to mature readers only. I find that Marillier can create some truly good characters. They prove themselves time and again. But Marillier allows even her good characters to face challenges and difficulties that forever change them - usually for the better, but not always. Likewise, Marillier's villains are truly evil. There are some folks in this book that are too creepy to think about. It's an amazing book though - based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale - but competely unique and spellbinding in its heartbreak and joys.

I did find one part strikingly similar to another of her books, Wolfskin, which I read a few years ago. They both contained the same idea of a young Irish girl healing a foreign man in seclusion aided by a holy man. Not that it was the exact same circumstances, but both scenes were similar enough to make me wonder if anyone else thought about how much they paralleled each other.

reading order:
~ Daughter of the Forest
~ Son of the Shadows
~ Child of the Prophecy
~ Heir to Sevenwaters

Summer Reading Blitz update: 20/30


Angiegirl said...

Sigh. Seriously, such a beautiful, beautiful book. One of my tried and true get-me-out-of-any-slump books.

Michelle said...

Agreed. I couldn't believe how amazing this story is. Marillier really knows how to take her time to develop characters and story doesn't she?

Angiegirl said...

She does indeed. And the language is always so beautiful that it's a perfectly pleasant journey for the duration.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading this book (and the two that follows) and being amazed by both the language and the story. It's one of the best fantasy series I've read - if not THE best. It was not an easy read, but definitely worth it! (and now I want to re-read them! :) )