Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Completion Date: January 15, 2011
A beautiful retelling of the Celtic "Swans" myth, Daughter of the Forest is a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love... To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss and terror. When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for Sorcha to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and sorcha will have to choose between the live she has always known and a love that comes only once.Today is a buddy review of Daughter of the Forest with Melissa. I have the first part of the review and she will be posting the second part on her blog.
Melissa: So, why did you pick this one up to read?
Kelly: Well, first because Katie (Rhinoa) challenged me to read it during 2011. She gave me a list to choose from and this is a book that I have always wanted to read, but never seemed able to get beyond the first chapter for one reason or another. This time I was determined to concentrate on it because I knew I was probably going to like it. You?
Melissa: My friend Corinne recommended it to me ages ago, but because my library doesn’t have it, it never really made my TBR list. (I had to borrow her copy to read it!) I figured, when I saw it on your list, it was either now or never. Did you find it hard to get through this time?
Kelly: No, I always think it was a timing problem previously. I would get a new book I was excited about, life would get busy, etc. I always liked what I was reading, but it just wasn’t the time for the book. This time I sat down with it and every time had a hard time putting it back down, but I got bombarded with a few other commitments, so I made myself read it slow and savour it. How did it go with you in the beginning? Were you drawn in right away, or did it take time?
Melissa: I took it with me on vacation, determined to get through it. That didn’t happen. So, it took a bit of time for me to get into it. But, the day after we got back it snowed (a lot; I live in Kansas, everything is relative!), and so I was able to sit and spend the day with the book. By that time, I was fully committed to the characters and story. Were you familiar with the fairy tale before you started, or was that new?
Kelly: It does start a bit slowly, but if you give it a chance it really picks up and draws you in. This was something that I didn’t accomplish the first couple times I tried to read it. I had heard of the fairy tale before, but I don’t think I have ever actually read the original before and this was the first time I have read a retelling. It sounds like the original would be interesting to read at some point. I wouldn’t mind reading other retellings either. What about you?
Melissa: I wonder if there are other retellings of this one? Though there’s a passing reference to it in Sarah Beth Durst’s Into the Wild. I actually have read the original; or at least a version of it. I always found it a bit disturbing; it was more of a punishment for the sister, in the original, than it ever was for the brothers. Then there’s the whole brotherly-yet-a-bit-more love which I always found quite creepy. In short: not my favorite fairy tale. However, I liked how Marillier wove pagan Irish history into the story. It gave it an added depth, I think.
Kelly: Okay, I can see how that would be a bit weird, yes. I think the thing that did bother me the most was just how obsessed she was with her brothers at times. It was a bit creepy. I think that by the end it was dealt with and not as prominent, though. I suppose she was the youngest and they just felt she needed to be protected because she was the only girl. Still, it was different. I enjoyed it because of the whole fairy tale feel of the story. I also really enjoyed the Irish and British history that was woven through the story, especially the pagan parts. I also like how they showed the conflict between ‘the old ways’ and the new religion that was sweeping through at the time. It was an interesting contrast. Especially when she arrived in Britain and it was all about the new religion and the old being mostly forgotten.
Melissa: I agree! I like exploring that struggle between old and new. Did you like that the Fair Folk played an active role in the story?
Kelly: Yes, it is something I enjoy in historical fiction and really appreciate when it is handled well in fantasy, too. I am a big fan of the Fair Folk. I like how authors play around with basic myths and ideas to make a creative story. They really come to life and when they are handled well.
Be sure and visit Melissa's Blog for the second half of the review.
This book counts for the Great Reading Swap, as it was on the list Rhinoa provided for me.
Daughter of the Forest
Son of the Shadows
Child of the Prophecy
Heir to Sevenwaters
Seer of Sevenwaters