Wednesday 7 January 2009

Book Review: Juliet Marillier – The Sevenwaters Trilogy: Daughter of the Forest

I bought Kooky Little Sister this set of books for Eid on her request and was keen to read them myself and see what all the fuss was about.

On picking up the first novel in the series I realised I had read it before a long while ago and the story stuck out in my mind. The novel is a take on the Brothers Grimm tale of the six princes turned into swans by a wicked sorceress and their lovely sister who must rescue them.

The simple children’s story of six brothers and their sister who must weave six shirts out of starwort in complete silence in order to change her brother’s back to human form is given a much more grown-up re-telling in this book. The setting is Ireland in the eighth century and rural North West England and the backdrop formed by the warring of these two countries and the Viking raids on both. We also see the emergence of the powerful new religion Christianity and the threat it poses to the old Druidic faith.

Marillier convincingly creates the period with its forest, farms and beaches and weaves through it the politics of men of power and the power of the “Fair Folk”. The story is told from the point of view of the sister, Sorcha, a free-spirited young woman who struggles through the loss of her home, the fief of Sevenwaters, the painful challenge set to rescue her brothers, rape and abduction, her treatment as a foreigner by the Britons – suspected and reviled, being tried for witchcraft and the loss of her love to the call of duty.

The characters are fairly well constructed and hold your sympathy and interest. The exceptions are the two villains: The sorceress, Lady Oonagh, who we learn very little about and Richard of Northwoods who reminded me of Alan Rickman’s comically slimy Sheriff of Nottingham in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – I found the dialogue given to him just a little too glib and smarmy.

Overall an intriguing mix of fairy or folk tale, historical romance and fantasy novel, un-put-downable once you get into it and best of all a cracking good story.


  1. sounds quite interesting -i do like the swan story -might have to give it a go

  2. Hello LSS, their N's, I just gave them back so you can borrow them from her.