4/5 on Rachel’s Rating Scale
PG for mild violence
Young adult, historical fantasy, fairy tale retelling
Sorry this post is a few days late in coming. I was up in Virginia, singing for the beautiful wedding of two very good friends. But I have now returned, and the promised review has arrived. And this book is worth every second of your time.
As I said in my first post, fairy tale retellings are what I live for. After reading a number of her novels, Juliet Marillier quickly leaped into position as one of my favorite authors, particularly for her emphasis on historical fantasy, drawing heavily from folklore including Celtic, Norse, and Romanian. Which, if you know me at all, you will realize are three of my favorite mythologies.
Marillier’s skills as a storyteller are apparent in the surreal images she draws for the reader, pulling her audience into a past world where the old tales of fairies, goblins, and wood folk are startlingly real. Marillier makes the reader believe that magic still exists. For those of you who do like vampires, this is that book I mentioned in my first post that actually does vampires well. But, like I said, she draws on the original folklore of the vampire, does not call them vampires, and they are not the main focus of the book.
Since they first discovered the portal to the Other World in their old castle home of Piscul Dracului, Jenica and her sisters have been passing through on each full moon to join the dances of the wood folk. It is a secret known only to them as well as to Jenica’s pet frog and best friend, Gogu. As her father’s health wanes, Jena is placed under pressure from her cousin Cezar to marry and cede ownership of Piscul Dracului. With her eldest sister quickly losing her heart and her mortality to a mournful man of the wildwood, Jena must keep Cezar from seizing control of her beloved home, as well as solve the ten year old mystery of her cousin Costi’s death.
I first read this book when I was sixteen, and the predominant emotion I can remember feeling was frustration. It was a feeling I would come to know well the more I read Juliet Marillier, but it is an emotion that drove me to read on. I promise you will want to scream and throw the book across the room at points, but that is what makes it worth reading. You won’t want to leave Jena’s world, and, don’t worry too much, because Marillier wrote an incredible sequel called Cybele’s Secret that I almost think is better than this book. Either way, read this book and its sequel.
If you want to know what fairy tale the book is based on, it’s kind of a mix of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and the Frog Prince. So, hopefully that doesn’t give too much away.