Wednesday 23 December 2009

Book Review: Juliet Marillier – The Heir to Sevenwaters

I read (and reviewed) the three books in the Sevenwaters trilogy some time ago with varying degrees of enjoyment, but still enough to read this fourth instalment when Kooky Little Sister happened upon it.

Each of the novels picks up the story of one of the women in a successive generation. The setting is ancient Ireland, a place of druids, lords and ladies, swamps, forests, gypsies and magic.

The Heir to Sevenwaters is the tale of Clodagh, one of six sisters and great-granddaughter of the original heroine. A practical, sensible and in her view boring, young women, whose time is taken up in the care of her wider family and home. During preparations for her twin sisters marriage, extended family descend including her cousin’s guard Adrian who she is taken by and his friend Cathal, a brooding and rude stranger who she is uncomfortable around and who appears to take a dislike to her.

Within days of the marriage a brother is born to Clodagh, the much loved and wanted heir to Sevenwaters. Left in her charge, the baby disappears one night with a bundle of sticks and leaves in the shape of a baby left in his place. Cathal disappears the same night raising suspicion and anger is directed at Clodagh for being careless and for her insistence that the bundle of sticks is a live baby. But why is she the only one who can see that the child is alive and how can she get her real brother back?

As with the other novels in this series, there is a great challenge for the heroine to overcome with almost insurmountable odds despite her seeming ordinariness. Of course there is a love story (you know the power of love always conquers all don’t you?) and as with the other three books the path of true love does not run smooth with the hero having to be won over.

In the other novels the “fair folk” are alluded to, their stories recounted and their existence believed to protect the people of Sevenwaters (the forest kingdom where the story is set) but their ways are rarely made explicit. Perhaps this was a failing in this novel, because you lose much of the mystery surrounding the fair folk, perhaps not, because I like to get to the root of things. This novel certainly made me wonder if mysterious is better or knowing, or whether knowing everything can be a bit of an anti-climax.

Overall, this is an easily-read, un-taxing, engaging read, more enjoyable if you have read the previous books, but nothing to write home about, the first in the series “Daughter of the Forest” is still by far the best.


  1. Apparently this writer called Guy Gavriel Kay is meant to be good, and he does similar historical-fantasy type stuff :)

  2. Nee Kurri,my bedside table is about to break. But I did google him and his stuff looks good, has gotten very good reviews and appears a bit more highbrow than Marillier to be honest