Book Review: Daughter of the Forest by Marillier (3 Stars)

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

3 out of 5 stars

Read in August 2008

Part of me wanted desperately to give Daughter of the Forest four stars. Perhaps if I hadn’t read six or eight additional books during the time it took me to finish this one.

Sorcha is the seventh child (she has six older brothers) of the household of Seven Waters in Erin. Her mother died bearing her and her father seemingly can’t interact with his daughter because she reminds him of his beloved wife. He throws himself wholeheartedly and ruthless into the defense of Seven Waters.

This is a re-telling of an old Celtic faery tale (the Wild Swans). The ‘evil’ stepmother arrives, seduces and blinds the father and drives a wedge between the siblings. This culminates in an enchantment or curse that transforms the six brothers into swans. Sorcha barely escapes the spell.

To break the spell and save her brothers, she is required to never speak, never to tell her story by any means and to weave and sew six shirts for her brothers out of a spiny weed called starwort.

Sorcha struggles on for years. Since this tale is told in the first person from her point of view, it is easy to identify with her travails. However, even though it seems like if it weren’t for bad luck she would have no luck at all, I grew bored at times with the internal dialogue.

Sorcha has a nearly impossible task to complete that at times requires superhuman strength of will to inch forward. I was deeply moved by her plot and the few individuals who saw her strength and struggled and helped as the could without any understanding of her task.

I guess the biggest disappointment for me was that the second half of the tale seemed to be a thinly veiled romance. I literally saw that coming from miles away and it ended just as nearly all faery tales do, happily ever after.