Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Title: Daughter of the Forest
Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Sevenwaters #1
Genre: Fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: Tor Books, 2001
Source: Gift from my mom
Read for: Alex Awards challenge, Chunkster challenge

Daughter of the Forest is a retelling of the six swans fairy tale. Sorcha is the seventh child of a seventh son and the only girl in her family. She loves her childhood with her six brothers, learning to heal and having strange encounters with the Fair Folk. However, Sorcha's life is turned upside down first when she encounters a Briton, sworn enemy of her people, and second when her father marries the beautiful but venomous Lady Oonagh. Her family torn apart, Sorcha begins a quest to save her brothers. However, her quest takes her places she could hardly have imagined.

I am not especially familiar with the fairy tale of the six swans, but I do know that Daughter of the Forest was a compelling and beautiful read, rich with descriptions and haunting mystery. I found myself completely enthralled in Sorcha's world and eager for the next installment of the trilogy.

I think one of the greatest strengths of Daughter of the Forest is the atmosphere. Marillier creates a world that is beautiful yet completely wild and untamable. The beliefs of Sorcha's family lend an eerie, mystical feel to the story. As Sorcha encounters the Britons, the atmosphere changes into more of the hearty, meat-and-potatoes, green countryside type of setting, but Sorcha keeps her haunting air of magic. The way the mood enveloped the story made it so powerful and entrancing.

Hand in hand with the atmosphere is the beauty of the writing. Marillier's voice is distinct and lovely, with vivid descriptions of the forests and the emotions of the characters. I felt completely invested, completely involved with Sorcha's tale. I think the ability to involve a person so deeply into a book that is so long and so different from my contemporary life demonstrates Marillier's remarkable skill as a writer, and I am looking forward to reading more of her work.

Another aspect of Daughter of the forest that was extremely compelling to me was the depth of emotion in each of the characters. They do not experience flat, simple urges and reactions. Instead, their experiences are complicated and their sentiments are reflections of that complexity. I  felt strongly about what Sorcha was going through, experiencing moments of anguish and joy as if they were my own, even when the circumstances were situations I have never experienced. The sheer emotion of the characters were transmitted exquisitely through the writing.

Daughter of the Forest was a powerful and lovely book. As a fantasy novel it satisfied me by providing an interesting world with magic, but it also satisfied me simply because it stirred my emotions and was beautifully written. I am looking forward to reading the next book, Son of Shadows.

5 stars

Warnings: Violence, a scene of sexual abuse


  1. Great review.. I couldn't agree more. I have read this series several times, and I love them more each time I read them. Hey, did you know about the Seven Days for Sevenwaters series they're doing at Book Harbinger? On the last day, Juliet Marillier will be doing a guest post.

    1. Thanks! I have heard of the Sevenwaters blog event and definitely need to check it out one of these days. My mom has the next two books in the series and is trying to finish them to send them to me -- I'm really looking forward to reading the rest!

  2. UGHHH! ALL OF THE EMOTIONS! I loved this book and I love reading reviews of people reading Daughter Of The Forest for the first time, it's nice vicarious way to experience that joy all over again.

    I'm really excited you are continuing with the series and can't wait to read your reviews of the next books.

    1. Thanks! I bought the second and third book for my mom for mother's day (she is the one who got me reading Daughter of the Forest in the first place) and she just finished the second and sent it to me. I can't wait to jump into it. I also just got my sister to check it out from the library -- it is definitely a book that everyone should read!


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