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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Review: Juliet Marillier's 'Wildwood Dancing'

I know I said this time I was going to post the second worst book I read in the Wild Things Summer Reading Challenge, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I thought I'd share another fab book, one that you can win over at April's blog (Good Books & Good Wine).

If you want to enter her contest, go here and do as she says.

Wildwood Dancing Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wildwood Dancing is retold fairy tale set in Romania of a century ago. Five sisters (beautiful Tati; sensible Jena, who narrates the story; lively Iulia; smart Paula and young Stela) are left to take care of their estate, Piscul Dracului, when their father travels south for his health. They try to go on with their lives as before: doing chores, watching over his mercantile business, and sneaking out of their bedroom once a month through a secret portal that lead to a fairy realm where they dance until dawn. But when Tati begins to show feelings for a potentially dangerous creature from the Other Kingdom, and the girls’ cousin, Cezar, shows up to take over the affairs of the castle, Jena begins to fear that the world she knows is falling apart. With her best friend, a talking frog named Gogu, at her side, Jena struggles to maintain her independence and control while keeping her family together and her fairy friends safe.
Wildwood Dancing retells the classic Twelve Dancing Princesses, as well as weaving in other traditional tales and bits of mythology in an interesting and clever way. Marillier’s use of Romania as a setting provides great depth to the story, layering in interesting culture and an appropriately untamed setting. Her writing is well-suited to the story, making it lush and fully fleshed out. The world she creates and the characters who inhabit it are detailed and dynamic, and though some things work out a little too conveniently and quickly for all the build-up, the story is enchanting and I was sad when it was over. Perfect for those who love retold fairy tales, historical and paranormal romance, and strong female characters.

(On a personal note, I want my own Gogu)

View all my reviews >>

Bonus Material:
This is the kind of book I could see myself reading a few times. I loved the characters, especially Jena. I loved that things weren't black and white, and that -- oops, almost gave something away. Just know I loved it. It's one of those books that I wish there was more of, even though I really appreciate authors who can end a story with one book, and not milk it for everything it's worth. But I want more of these characters. I don't want to be done with them. Also, I want to learn more about Romanian folklore now. I am fairly familiar with the folklore of just about every other region of the world except eastern Europe. I recognized Draguta, and that was about the extent of it. It was a really fascinating world.

***spoiler alert***
Perhaps my only complaint was Tati's decline. It works for the story, but I'm not sure that depicting a girl starving herself to death because her lover is gone is the best way to go in a YA novel for girls... Just saying.

I still want my own Gogu.

Now playing: Emilie Simon - To the Dancers in the Rain
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Taking Back Sunday - …Slowdance On The Inside
via FoxyTunes

You got two this time!


  1. 5 stars? Wow. This one's on my TBR list, but it's pretty far down there because I've only read one book by Juliet Marillier (Daughter of the Forest), and while I enjoyed it, it wasn't anything astounding and it took me a little while to get into. This one sounds a bit more intriguing though...

    Natalie @ Mindful Musings

  2. Daughter of the Forest took me FOREVER to get into. I ended up liking it quite a bit, for the most part (remember my aversion to scooby-doo moments?). But this, though slightly under a 5, was just enjoyable and atmospheric. And I loved the way the tales were worked together.

  3. On it's own, this story doesn't really grab me, but with your enthusiasm, the mention of other fairy tales, and Gogu, I'm pretty intrigued. I may have to check this out! It sounds like it might be a pretty lovely story! Cheers, Misty!


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