by Juliet Marillier
Amazon / Goodreads
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...
Review:This is a book that was truly written to be savored. The pace in the beginning is leisurely, as the narrator - Sorcha - sets up the nature of life in this version of Ireland, of the enchantment of her village and home and their relationship with the 'fair folk'. Truthfully there were times that I felt the book to be too slow, but that impatience quickly disappeared as I became used to the the author's way of unfolding the story. And Sorcha has a way of dropping foreboding hints of what is to come to keep the reader on their toes. If you are familiar with the original fairy tale of The Six Swans, like I was, it was pretty tense reading this story and waiting for the main elements of the fairy tale to come up. Especially when I knew that things would get so much worse before it could get better.
So for me, this was a luxurious fantasy - one that felt very real despite the magic, because we are so focused on Sorcha and have to spend so much time in her head. Her development throughout this book is fantastic - it's lovely to read how she grows into a strong young woman who faces so much adversity, after being so sheltered and loved by her brothers. And the author does a great job of fleshing out different and particular personalities in the six brothers. They all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, and it's easy to see how they all got along and depended on each other as they were growing up.
While this is a very faithful representation of the original fairy tale - with deeper, nuanced characters and realistic details - I was surprised that the ideas and themes of another fairy tale were worked into the story - that of The Little Mermaid. Which fit in so well (with a character who can't speak, dropped into a foreign environment) and added another layer of emotion that truly touched me. It also added a lot to the romance that develops for Sorcha in this book. It's a beautiful slow-burn one, that is made the more poignant because Sorcha can not speak and yet the man comes to understand Sorcha on a deep level. There is the tragic aspect of The Little Mermaid too, which added to the general heartache this book enveloped me with. But this was in a good way! I loved how well Juliet Marillier was able to weave both fairy tales into her story.
'Daughter of the Forest' is a wonderfully, immersive read, with lush prose, despicable villains, strong characters and a very moving story. This is an absolutely beautiful book.