It’s been a while since I’ve sunk into a new traditional epic fantasy, but I have to say, reading it again is like greeting an old friend. Throw in some fairy tale elements and you know I will be a happy camper! Here’s my review of Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
First things first, I always love fantasy stories that read almost like a historical memoir. This one does that in a way. Plus, it takes place in the British Isles, which makes it feel like Arthurian lit, and y’all know how much I love that.
This is the story of Sorcha, a young girl growing up in her father’s court. Her father is the Lord of Sevenwaters and a very aloof man towards his only daughter. Sorcha is the seventh child and her older brothers are very protective of her. Life goes on until one day her father remarries a lady who reveals herself to be a witch. She ensares Sorcha’s father into ignoring all else around him and turns Sorcha’s six brothers into swans. Sorcha escapes her clutches, but is told by the Lady of the Forest that the only way to save her brothers is to weave six shirts for them out of the fibrous, thorny starwort plant. She cannot speak while she works or the spell will be complete and her brothers will be swans forever.
Sorcha begins working, ruining her hands in the process, but it’s not easy. She has sacrificed her childhood to this task, facing brutish ruffians and losing everything. Then she is kidnapped by “Red,” a young Briton who turns out to be a Lord himself and one of her father’s enemies. All the while, her stepmother is still searching for her, looking to finish the task she started.
My only complaint about the book was that it was slow in parts, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Sorcha is a very well written character and changes from being a sheltered and protected child to a strong capable woman in her own right. The relationship between her and her brothers is really beautiful – they have always wanted to keep her from harm, but now she has to put herself in harm’s way and there’s nothing they can do to protect her.
This is the first book in, what I think, are two sets of trilogies. The second book has already be procured from the library and I will be starting it today. 🙂 If you like epic fantasy, give these a go. They are very well written and enjoyable.