Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

I have mentioned Daughter of the Forest several times here on my blog because I’ve heard so many good things about it. Book blogger and Goodreads friends have told me that this novel is one of their favorites. It’s a retelling of the fairy tale The Six Swans and that makes it more interesting for me. This was my Want Books? pick just last week and luckily, Fully Booked had one copy left. Sure it was in their Cebu branch and they had to send it by courier to Manila but what the heck, at least I got a copy. 🙂

Here’s the summary from the Macmillan website and is also the summary at the back of the book:

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…

Wow, just wow. I was blown away by this book. I mean I had high expectations because of what everyone said but I was still pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. A word of caution – this was not an easy book to read. I know that I mostly read YA novels so I just wanted to get this out there. It was hard to read because of everything that Sorcha had to go through. The writing is so vivid and imaginative that your heart will break whenever there’s pain and suffering for the main character, which happens several times over. But this book is well worth the trouble. There were times when I had to stop reading because my heart went out to Sorcha, she suffers when she deserves to be happy. The only other Marillier that I’ve read was Wildwood Dancing and though I enjoyed reading that, I wasn’t impressed. After reading Daughter of the Forest, I can now join the ranks of Marillier fans out there.

I enjoy reading fairy tale retellings because it’s always interesting to see where the author will take the story using the fairy tale as the backbone. This one was no different. Using the gist of The Six Swans fairy tale, Ms. Marillier made the story come alive with a wonderful blend of historical fiction and Celtic mythology. Sorcha is the seventh child of Lord Colum, a seventh son himself and Lord of Sevenwaters. As the only girl, Sorcha is well-protected and beloved by her brothers. I loved how distinct each brother’s personality is and how close-knit they are in spite of their differences. They were all tied together by their bond as siblings. Daughter of the Forest is a wonderful story about love – love for your family, love for the land where you came from and true love, which is elusive and comes only once in a person’s life. That speech towards the end of the book is a winner. I’d love to post it here but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book. For those who’ve read it, does “You are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.” ring a bell?

I just got copies of Son of Shadows and Child of the Prophecy from Fully Booked yesterday. Son of the Shadows occurs a generation after Daughter of the Forest and I’ve been assured by Angie and Holly that it’s just as good as the first one in the series. I’m excited to read it!