Monday, October 20, 2008

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Young Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Irish Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, a domain well protected from invading Saxons and Britons by dense forest where, legend says, fey Deirdre, the Lady of the Forest, walks the woodland paths at night. Colum is first and foremost a warrior, bent on maintaining his lands against all outsiders. Not all of his sons are so bound to the old ways, and that family friction leads to outright disobedience when Sorcha and her brother Finbar help a Briton captive escape from Colum's dungeon. Soon after, Colum brings home a new wife who tries to manipulate everyone around her and casts a spell over the six brothers. By her spell Sorcha's brothers are cursed to become swans. Only Sorcha, hiding deep in the forest, can break the spell by painfully weaving shirts of starwort nettle--but then Sorcha is captured by Britons and taken away across the sea. Determined to break the curse despite her captivity, Sorcha continues to work, little expecting that ultimately she will have to chose between saving her brothers and protecting the Briton lord who has defended her throughout her trials. (

I love fairytales, they are my weakness. I love reading them and I love modern-day retellings. Daughter of the Forest is a retelling of an old fairy tale “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christen Anderson, and “The Six Swans” by the Brothers Grimm.

I really liked the main character Sorcha and the strength of character that she had. She had a wonderful relationship with her brothers, which often made me think of my three older brothers. And took on the most impossible task in order to save their lives, at great sacrifice to herself. The love story between her and Hugh was sweet. I liked how he took it upon himself to be her protector, how they had a connection and even though she couldn’t speak they were able to communicate and build a friendship, where she would eventually be able to trust and love him. I really wanted to loved this story, it’s a classic fairytale and if a few things had been done differently it really would have been great.

***Spoiler alert***
Here are the things I didn’t like about the book. About 150 pages into the book Sorcha is raped. Had I known there was a rape in the story I wouldn’t have bothered reading it. Although I skipped over that part, I found it very upsetting and couldn’t believe the author added that to the story. It was completely unnecessary, and left a sense of darkness throughout the rest of the book. It really ruined the whole story for me and I think the author should have stuck closer to the original stories and not taken such liberties in adding such a needless tragedy. I also thought the book really needed a good edit. It really dragged on and on. There was way too much detail and side stories and the chapters were too long. I would have enjoyed it more if the story had been more concise.


  1. I'm sorry that took you by surprise and was so unpleasant. That's no fun.

  2. Thanks for this review and noting the rape. I'm like you in preferring to avoid the extra tragedy.

    Have you read *Impossible* by Nancy Werlin? (My review of it is here) There's a rape in that one, but I was convinced it was necessary to the story. Somehow that makes a big difference for me (that, and not having to "watch" it).


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