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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Daughter of the Forest ~ guest review from Nadine

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Today's first post comes from Nadine of SFF Book Reviews, and we have been debating back and forth via email on this ever since she sent it. You see, it's of one of my favorite books, Daughter of the Forest, and I  think y'all know how I feel about that... I've been trying to convince Nadine to love it as well as I do BECAUSE REASONS, but I really need to just let it go - I mean, everyone reacts to books differently, and she did like it - so why am I still going on about it?
[Relax, Misty. Be cool. Nadine doesn't have to love the book as much as you do. For now... ;) ]

Anywho, check out Nadine's thoughts on Daughter of the Forest below, and if you're curious why I'm just a rabid Juliet Marillier fan, check out any of the many times I've talked about her books... =D

Mythology in all its shapes and forms intrigues me. As do fairy tales. A combination of the two usually guarantees that I will go out and buy a book, and almost none came as highly recommended as Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters series. A retelling of The Six Swans set in Ireland and involving a romance as well as the horrible task our heroine has to complete in order to save her brothers - there is so much potential there, I simply couldn not resist. The execution of the tale was well done but didn't sweep me off my feet.

Sorcha tells her story in detail. Very much detail. To say this is a slow book would be an understatement. That said, I quite like slow books. I love how they focus on characters instead of action, how deep they let us get into the protagonist's head. But despite the first person narrative, there was always some distance between me and Sorcha. Maybe it was the flowery language or the very drawn-out scenes but it was never one of those books for me that I could crawl into and dissapear in for a while. One scene especially made me cringe, not just because it was a terrible experience for Sorcha but because I felt that the scene was simply added for shock value and to give Sorcha more personality. Her wild spirit and determination to save her brothers no matter what, would have been quite enough.

As the protagonist struggles to break the curse, she has to remain completely mute. On the one hand, that is an intriguing idea, on the other hand, it is difficult to keep a story moving when the heroine never speaks. She has to let her actions speak for her. But Sorcha's actions are just as predefined as is her silence. She collects starwort, spins it into thread, weaves the thread into fabric and sews shirts. Of course, she has to collect food and clean herself, but in reality, her everyday life is just not very interesting to read about. Then again, it wasn't boring, either, especially in the second half. Juliet Marillier walks a fine line between thrilling and boring and somehow manages to just make it good enough to keep reading.

At a certain point, another level of conflict is added when Sorcha has to deal with the Britons, the sworn enemies of her own people. The Briton characters were my favorites in the entire book. I never really warmed to most of Sorcha's brothers and Sorcha herself didn't really grow any more interesting than she was at the very beginning, for all the ordeals she has to suffer through. Simon, Red, even Sir Richard, or Margery, managed to leap off the page and make me care. Whether it was because I wanted them to be happy and help Sorcha in her task, or whether it was because they were absolutely despicable, they were real to me and evoked real emotion. And yes, there were definitely butterflies and silly girl giggles involved when it came to a certain character.

One thing the author does magnificently well is the fact that I was never really sure if Sorcha would manage to break the curse. This is a fairy tale and as such should end in a happily ever after. But the stakes were so high and Sorcha was faced with more and more difficulties along the way, that for a long time, I was conviced this would end badly. The ending could not have been better. I won't spoil it, but let me say that it is neither happily ever after nor is it completely bad. That bittersweet part in between struck a chord with me and was one of my favorite bits of the book.

In the end, I wasn't impressed enough to continue with the series right away. I will, eventually. This is a recommendation, despite some misgivings, because while I was never so in love that I hugged the book to my chest and danced around the living room (yeah, that happens sometimes), it was also not bad. I am somewhat torn about how to rate this because I believe the quality of the writing should be rated higher than this. However, my rating is based on a scale of my personal enjoyment and I don't really see myself re-reading this novel.

THE GOOD: Great beginning, great last third, some fantastic characters and a beautiful, very subtle romance.

THE BAD: A protagonist who is never more than somewhat interesting, a very drawn-out middle part, and not enough mythology for my taste.

THE VERDICT: A great retelling of The Six Swans, full of atmosphere, conflict, and an incredibly enduring girl. The beginning and the end were wonderful and despite some slow and one unnecessary bit, I recommend it to people who like character-intense books and, of course, fairy tales.

MY RATING: 7/10 - Very good

~ Nadine


  1. Hmm, that's not what Misty says. She thinks it's the cat's meow. But I could see how it would get boring reading about everyday life. Very boring. So before I read it, I'll adjust for that and maybe skim those parts. I'm still going to read it. I already have so.... Thanks for that very honest review.


  2. Hello Heather,

    I was worried (sorry, this is Nadine here, hiding behind the screen name) that I would sound too negative. Except for one little bit that really irked me, this was a very pleasant reading experience. It is slow and quiet but that didn't bother me too much, once I understood that this was what the story was all about.
    It is actually very likely that I suffered a case of being over-hyped about this book. I expected sooo much from it and those expectations definitely had an impact on my overall impression.

    But, I have to admit, once I was done reading, the book grew more in my esteem. Maybe it won't be too long before I continue the series, after all...

  3. I absolutely 100 percent agree with your review. I had a friend recommend it to me (she will probably come along and see my comment lol!) and because I love Juliet Marillier, I decided to read it. I had bought all the books in the series and I decided it was finally time to read the first one. I thought it was good. It wasn't one where I finished and was like, this was a huge waste of time and I wish I didn't buy the series. I did agree with your 7/10 rating. It was a good book but not one I was hooked on so much I couldn't stop reading. I definitely will read the others in the series but I haven't picked up the second one yet. I feel like it can wait.


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