Monday, December 17, 2012

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


Title: Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters, #1) 

Author: Juliet Marillier 

Rating: 5 Stars

Incredible. I know I've said I've been speechless when reading books before, but this time, I genuinely don't have the words to express what a masterpiece this novel is. I actually finished this novel early today morning, at around 1:30, but it was only at 2:30-ish that I actually got up to go to sleep. I couldn't get this story out of my head; I simply kept thinking about it. If Juliet Marillier hadn't already made a fan out of me with Heart's Blood, then I'd be tripping over myself to fall at her feet for truly, this book is remarkable. 

Daughter of the Forest is known to be one of the best fantasy novels out there, but it's hard to believe just how good it is until you read it. From its cover, it seems to be a simplistic fairy tale re-telling, but it's a fairy tale like no other. We don't have any knights in shining armor; instead, the princess has to save herself. We don't have an innocent girl for whom circumstances clear up and solve her problem; we have a broken girl who has to struggle to find happiness. Sorcha is the youngest of seven children, six of whom are boys. Thus, she has grown up sheltered, loved, and cared for by her siblings. When her father re-marries, however, bringing Lady Oonagh, a deadly sorcerer, into their peaceful abode, Sorcha's life is turned upside down. Lady Oonagh turns her beloved brothers into swans and the only way for Sorcha to break the spell is to weave six shirts made of a prickly nettle and remain silent for her entire ordeal. It is only when the shirts have been made and worn by her brothers that the spell will be broken, but the journey that Sorcha will embark on will change more than just her future, it will change her very being and shatter her to her core. 


Daughter of the Forest starts out slowly, introducing us to Sorcha, her world, and her close relationship with her brothers. Thus, when her brothers are turned into swans, we, as readers, feel just as much pain as Sorcha herself. I could feel myself visibly wincing every time Sorcha was reminded of her past life with her brothers, full of happiness and delight. Daughter of the Forest is a dark tale. A very dark tale. I sobbed for a solid five minutes at one point in this story because of the utter horror of the situation. Yet, despite all the darkness, there is a subtle undercurrent of hope, of happiness, of love. It's all so beautifully interwoven that one cannot help but be reminded of life itself with its ups and downs and darkness and light. 

You see, Daughter of the Forest is a painfully realistic tale. Sorcha has an incredible trove of inner strength. I admire her immensely and she's one of those heroines I'll never forget. I could simply be in the supermarket having a bad day and Sorcha is one of those protagonists who will come to mind and I already know I'll tell myself, "If Sorcha could go through all that, I can get through today." Sorcha isn't a saint - she's only human and that is felt so palpably despite the ordeal she manages to go through. Thus, despite the seemingly amazing feats she manages to achieve, Marillier weaves this tale in such a way that she is able to convey that each and every one of these ordeals is possible to overcome, just as anything is with the right dose of love, faith, and perseverance. 

Nevertheless, one of my favorite aspects of this novel is, hands-down, the romance. If Marillier is the Queen of Slow Burn Romance, I am the Glutton of Slow Burn Romance. I can't get enough of it and Marillier writes it to pure perfection. What I loved about the romance in this novel, particularly, is the fact that it manages to happen all without Sorcha uttering a word. Somehow, against all odds, Sorcha manages to find someone who understands her very soul, who sees her task as a brave ordeal she is facing, and who can understand her with little difficulty, despite her silence. Furthermore, Sorcha never even realizes that she's falling in love. As the reader, we can see this romance unfold in front of our eyes, but Sorcha's task remains to be the main plot thread, until eventually, Sorcha comes to realize the love she had and how, despite not realizing it before, she needs the very presence of her lover to calm her. For, to be in love isn't necessarily to crave physical affection or even understanding, but often, it comes from the most basic, innocent, and true primitive instinct of needing that other person's presence and strength by you. It is this that Marillier manages to embody so beautifully within this novel and I can't get enough of it.

Daughter of the Forest is a dark, emotional, and achingly bittersweet fantasy like no other. It is one that kept me on the edge of my seat with a box of tissues within the grasp of my hand and a warm blanket draped over me. It's one of those stories that continues to plague you long after you've read it as you marvel over both the author's creativity and skill along with the characters and their complexity. I can't recommend this book enough, but really, everyone should read this. Everyone. Like all fairy tales, Daughter of the Forest contains a trove of themes and lessons and Marillier conveys all this in a subtle and beautiful manner that touches and stays with you like nothing else quite does. Truly, if there's one book you should make yourself read before you die, it's this one. 

20 comments:

  1. For, to be in love isn't necessarily to crave physical affection or even understanding, but often, it comes from the most basic, innocent, and true primitive instinct of needing that other person's presence and strength by you. BEAUTIFUL <3

    This book sounds INCREDIBLE. I love how much of an impact Sorcha had on you. The fact that she doesn't even mutter a word throughout her ordeal and yet such breathtaking romance and characterisation is developed is... well, true talent. I would not have paid much attention to this based solely on the cover, unfortunately, but thank YOU for making me want to read this!! Beautiful review!

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  2. I've been meaning to read some of the author's books, esp this one so I'm so happy to hear such high praises from you! I want a book to make me speechless too!

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  3. Wow, Keertana! Yet another stunningly written review from you! Sorcha sounds like such an unbelievably amazing character, I can't help but love a girl that's able to save herself, no dashing hero needed. On top of that we get a slow burn romance? MUST READ THIS NOW!

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  4. I have had this author on my wish list for a long time and your review is a good swift kick in the rear to check her out. I do have her lastest book for review and of course I am so behind. I will read her I will! I love a slow burning romance so I am excited about that aspect.

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  5. her books have been on my wishlist for a while . i love fantasy and stunning review

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  6. You're a "glutton of slow burn romance"? I hear you! That's by far the best kind of romance in literature. ;)

    That aside, I agree with basically everything you've said in your review. It's been years since I've last read Daughter of the Forest, but it's one of the best fairy tale retellings I've ever read; one of the best adult fantasy books in general that I've ever read, actually. I love that so many people are reviewing it and bringing it to the attention of others who may have otherwise passed it by. I definitely need to do a reread in the near future! Wonderful review!

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  7. Oh man! That review has me hitting the buy button... It sounds incredible and I'm SO with you on the slow burn romance. The kind with those few very special moments that mean so much without really even happening. I might have read this as a teen cause it seems familiar. Other than the cover which is of course very familiar. If I did read it I don't re all the story at all.
    Off to get it!

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  8. Keertana, I haven't read any of Marillier's novels other than Shadowfell but I've heard her adult novels are a must read for fantasy fans. I definitely plan on checking this one out as I love that it features a realistic heroine who isn't waiting around for some hot guy to show up and rescue her. Oh, and the way you described the romance completely sold me!

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  9. I love this book, so I'm happy you did too! This really is such an amazing book. I just love that scene at the beach :) And all the rest of the books in the series are really good too. I've actually been meaning to reread them all. Beautiful review!

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  10. Oh I loved this book so much! I read it earlier in the year with Lauren after recommendation from Heidi and Alyssa. I'm a very different reader than Lauren but I found that I loved it much the same as she did, and that seems to be much the same as you. So fantastic and incredible! Where we differ is that when I read a book like that - so amazing and epic and just, delicious, for lack of a better word - I have to soak in it for such a long time and think about it and I'm not ready to give it up yet. Even though it has been a couple of months, I'm still not ready to read the second book, especially since I've heard that it might be better than Daughter of the Forest. I'm don't want to give that incredible space up yet and make room for another story to fill it. That probably doesn't make any sense at all. I'm so glad you loved this one and I love your thoughts on it. Great, brilliant review.

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  11. Oh this is such a beautiful review, I love you passion and enthusiasm for Juliet Marillier's books. Me not being a big fantasy fan you've deinfinitely convinced me ti give this book or any book by Juliet Marillier a try. :)

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  12. I feel like your paragraph on the romance was written specifically for me, because that's EXACTLY the sort of thing I like. This sounds completely incredible - I need to meet this Sorcha soon it seems! Wonderful, wonderful review, Keertana!

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  13. This sounds really great so I think I may need to try and locate a copy of this book. Nice review!

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  14. *sigh* Yet again, I admire your eloquence, Keertana. :) SUCH a gorgeous review! Honestly, it's like food for the soul whenever I read your reviews. They're just that good, haha. ;)

    I recall trying to read this almost exactly one year ago, but I put it down after 50 pages because I was studying for a major exam. For whatever reason, I never decided to pick it up again, and there it is on my bookshelf at this moment collecting piles of dust and yearning to be read. Your review, however, convinced me that I absolutely MUST get back to it! After all, I loved Heart's Blood very much.
    P.S. I'm a Glutton for Slow Burning Romance too. ;)

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  15. Woh! This really does sound amazing! I've been told I need to read Juliet's books and you have just convinced me. Sorcha sounds like a brilliant main character and I'm impressed by how much this book got to you!

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  16. *sigh* Keertana, your reviews are always both food for thought and food for soul. I just love it when you get so inspired by a book.
    I've been meaning to read this since... forever, I guess, and I think this beauty of a review was just the push I needed. Thank you.

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  17. Did you say slow-burn romance?!! Sign me up! Beautiful review Keertana. Btw, I finished Magic Strikes yesterday and LOVED it. The series is amazing! :)

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  18. This sounds amazing!! I totally want to read it now! :)

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  19. This is one good book. I recommend it to everyone who likes epic fantasy and unique fairytale retellings. And if that doesn't pull you in, try it for the love story, which was sentimental, sweet, painful, dangerous, forbidden, and oh so wonderful...

    Mariz
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