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

Daughter of Forest (Book #1 of the Sevenwaters Series)
Author: Juliet Mariller
Genre: Historical fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: 2002
Pages: 560
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: 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...

      My Review: In this faithful retelling of “The Wild Swans”, Juliet Marillier centers on Sorcha, who is the youngest daughter of a powerful Irish chieftain. She is well-loved and protected by her six brothers. She is a healer, and spends her days tending to the sick. However, her happy life takes an ultimate turn when her father marries the evil sorceress, Lady Oonagh. The power-hungry Lady Oonagh turns Sorcha's six brothers into swans because they are a threat to her and her ambitions. In order to save her brothers, Sorcha must make clothes from a needlelike plant, and she must also give up her voice. Sorcha also finds true love along the way.

     Sorcha is introduced as a 12 year old in the novel. Steadily, she matures over the course of the novel. She is very determined,and courageous. She is also very self-sacrificing for she is willing to endure many pains and suffering for her brothers. Even in the face of immense suffering and pressure, Sorcha keeps the goal of regaining her brothers’ humanity as her foremost goal and never waivers. She has a love of Irish folklore and she tells herself stories to help comfort her. 

     Her brothers are very likable characters. Each of them are very unique and have talents of their own. They are very protective of their sister, and when they are turned to swans, they are forced to leave their sister alone and unprotected which breaks her brothers hearts and are anguished because they desire nothing but to protect their sister.

     The love story in the book is very beautiful. Sorcha cannot speak, and her love interest has to understand her without words and to ultimately love her. Both of them learn to understand each other and to communicate with each other without speaking. Red, or Lord Hugh, who is Sorcha’s rescuer and protector is a strong, morally upstanding man. He is steadfast in his love for Sorcha, even in the face of severe criticism from several of his closest relatives.

     Other characters also stood out. The villains, in particular Lady Oonagh and Lord Richard, are truly evil. Also, some of the lesser characters, such as Simon (Hugh’s Brother), Lady Ann (Hugh’s mother), Ben and John (also Sorcha’s protectors) and members of the clergy such as Father Brien and Father Dominic were all interesting and played important roles in the book.

     This book has very few graphic parts that while painful to read, were handled very well and were vital to the plot of the book. This book may not be suitable for the youngest of readers, but for readers over sixteen it is fine. The author still caters this book to young adults and she does her best to make it tasteful. Without some of the more graphic parts, the love story that unfolds would not be quite as interesting for it helps shake Sorcha’s and Hugh’s relationship. It also shows the brothers' anguish and their inability to be there at all times to protect Sorcha.

     Overall, this book is very powerful. It has an amazing message that love prevails and obstacles can be overcome. It's themes are loyalty, family, and friendship. The setting is well-developed and the characters are likable. Sorcha is a likable and strong heroine. She is a characters that readers can easily can relate to. Even though Sorcha has to deal with pain and suffering as she goes through her trials, in the end, she ultimately triumphs. Although, I recommend this book to anyone who interested in fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and strong heroines, I believe that this is one of the books that everyone should read for it is a good story with an encouraging message.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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