March 18, 2015

Review: Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier
Publication date: Apr. 1, 1999
Publisher: Tor Books
Category: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Summary: Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment. But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all. (greads.com)

The good
Daughter of the Forest is a sweeping, epic novel that feels like it should be considered a fantasy classic. I honestly can't remember if I've ever been so emotionally wrought (read: lots of tears!) over a book in this genre before. Don't get me wrong, there's a long list of fantasy series that I love but this just felt like a different experience. And because I don't think I can adequately explain why in my usual review format, I'm going to give you 5 reasons why you must read this book. But first, let me tell you what it's about.

Sorcha is the youngest child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Her mother died when she was born and even though her father was never the same after, Sorcha grew up much-loved and very much protected by her six older brothers. She's free-spirited and knowledgeable in the ways of healing and the Fair Folk (fairies). But most of all she's happy with her life as it is. Then her father suddenly decides to re-marry an enchantress whose evil ways fool (almost) no one. It's clear she has it out for the seven siblings and it isn't long before she casts a terrible spell over the brothers. The Fair Folk tell Sorcha how she can save them though: she must sew six shirts from a plant that stings to the touch and she can't speak until the task is done. It's a long, arduous journey that I felt completely immersed in.

That said, here are my 5 reasons why you to pick up the book immediately!

1. Sorcha is an unforgettable heroine. 
Everything she does comes this place of absolute love for her brothers and inner strength. She's intelligent, resourceful, stubborn. But she's also a young girl and alone bearing this huge task. The author does Sorcha justice in describing the range of emotions she must be feeling as obstacle after obstacle get in her way. My heart hurt (and lifted) for her throughout the entire book.

2. Sorcha's brothers love for her. 
The level of love and devotion her brothers displayed towards Sorcha actually made me a bit weepy at one point. With their mother gone and their father distant, it's up to them to raise her. Which explains why she's so free-spirited and able to learn as much as she wanted to as a child. The moments when all 7 of them are together channeling their connection are some of my favorites. (Even when the brothers occasionally frustrated me.)

3. Vivid world-building. 
The book is a combination of fantasy, history (Sorcha and her family are in Ireland and the struggle against Briton plays a role) and fairytales (it's also a retelling of the The Six Swans). It's all woven together seamlessly and it just works.

4. Slow-burning romance. 
I love these kind of romances and they're especially perfect for fantasy. I can't say much except that it's filled with tension, hidden feelings, stolen glances and all that good stuff.

5. Great cast of characters. 
Many characters are introduced in this book. There's Sorcha's family, people she befriends and who become a part of her journey and the villians. Even if the character isn't in the book often, they're each so nuanced, complex and given specific details. Also, the bad guys are truly awful. I always want good to triumph over evil but I especially felt it in this book.

(Minor) Reservation
There was one thing I found unsettling about the book. There's some graphic violence in it that I had a pretty visceral reaction to. Even I was surprised by how I reacted but it's because of author's writing and her description of how Sorcha felt. But then, there are tender, romantic moments later and it wasn't given nearly the same amount of detail and attention. It always bothers me generally speaking when media has no problem showing violence but shies away from intimacy between two people who love each other.

Do I recommend?
Yes! The first thing I did after finishing this book was order the next one. I could not put it down and I have no doubt that I will be reading (and loving) this series!

2 comments:

  1. It wasn't easy to read but I loved Daughter of the Forest. It's such a beautiful and lyrical fantasy book. The sequel, Son of the Shadows, is even better. Those two are my favorites in the series.

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  2. You already know how much I LOVED Daughter of the Forest! It's definitely one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read, and even upon a reread, it was just as epic. I'm so thrilled that you've fallen as hard for this novel as I have, and I can't wait for you to get to Son of the Shadows! Chachic is right - it's so dang good.

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