Review: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

If there’s one way to describe my relationship with this book, it’s one of those romance soaps, where every viewer is questioning “will they or won’t they” and for goodness’ sake, just effing END MY MISERY ALREADY AND WIFE HER.

Yeah. I was having that kind of on-and-off relationship with Daughter of the Forest. For two years.


by Juliet Marillier
Tor Books, 2000
Fairy tale fantasy
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies

daughterofforestLovely 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…

Jumbly Thoughts

At the time I picked up this book, Daughter of the Forest came highly recommended to me by fellow Marillier fans. I loved her two Wildwood books so much that yeah, I purchased the first book of her Sevenwaters series and eventually started DotF sometime around 2013. From there it just became a series of start-stops, and every few chapters I wandered off, tried to get back to the story, wasn’t really as interested in it as I’d thought, and at some point I just gave up entirely.

I liked Sorcha well enough, and her brothers seemed like interesting people to read about. The story was a retelling of “The Wild Swans,” which was pretty cool, since I loved that tale as a kid. But I felt certain things got draggy, and the whole deal with Simon was just annoying (little did I know it’d become important later on…)

Then I picked the book up again on a random day and hit the godsawful rape scene that evidently became the turning point of the book (well, there were a lot of turning points, but this one takes the cake in deplorableness). I shed some tears, put the book down, and outright refused to read the rest of the book, because I was pretty darn upset by how much shmat Sorcha had had to go through just through the beginning bits of the book alone. I could only imagine what other stuff and nonsense was going to occur later on.

But third time’s the charm, right? So last week, I decided to put DotF on a reading challenge list and I resolved to finish the book, if only so I can properly put my thoughts together on the story itself.

And…damn, the rest of the book was just great. The book was rich with Celtic and British history, which was something I also loved in Marillier’s Wildwood series. There were Fae Folk and enchantments and subtle fairy tale elements that didn’t overpower the narrative. There wasn’t much outward dialog on Sorcha’s part–and gods, there was much too much dialog on scum-of-the-earth Richard’s part–but I didn’t mind this and thought the story progressed to a point where even I could no longer put the book down and get uninterested by things. Also, it might be because I wasn’t fond of the first half of the book, but I really found the characters more engaging on the second part. Ben, John, Margery, and Red carried the book for me by then.

The romance was pretty fantastic, though I admit I only became a true convert when Red pulled a Jerry Maguire at the end of the book. Anyone know that scene?

If Sorcha didn’t have six older brothers and a super-intimidating father, I’m pretty sure she would have interrupted with, YOU HAD ME AT “I’M HERE TO SPEAK WITH MY WIFE,” RED. Hell, I would have!

Instead, we got a heartfelt speech. Suffice to say that I was moved. To tears. Yet again.

Well played, Marillier. Well played.

4 out of 5 cookies! I still much preferred her Wildwood series, but I’m kind of glad I stuck through this book relationship.

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