While Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, the first in the Sevenwaters series, has been out for years now, I have only recently got around to reading it. After finishing the story, I could not believe I had been missing out on such a great series for so long. If you have not read it yet, I recommend giving it a try.
Daughter of the Forest is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Six Swans.” Sorcha is the seventh child of an Irish lord around the 8th century. Her mother died after giving birth to her, leaving Lord Colum devastated with the constant reminder of his loss in his seven children, especially Sorcha who looks just like her mother. Sorcha and her six brothers grow up taking care of and relying on each other. Each have their own special gift that makes them unique. However, their lives are disrupted with the appearances of a new stepmother who happens to be a sorceress. She turns the family against each other. When they finally join together to fight her influence, she casts a spell on the six brothers, turning them into swans. It is up to Sorcha to break the spell through her silence and pain, making thread and shirts of a thorny plant. She has a destiny, set up by the fairy folk, that takes her far away to the land of her people’s enemy on a difficult path fraught with danger and loss.
I loved that Juliet Marillier took a fairy tale and made it into a full fleshed tale with historical context. The land and the family’s connection to it were beautifully depicted. Sorcha’s sacrifices were heartbreaking, making me wince and cry in sympathy. The Briton, Red (Lord Hugh), was a perfect match for Sorcha. He was compassionate and protective when his people would have had him abandon Sorcha. I also recommend The Dark Mirror for those who enjoy Daughter of the Forest.