Daughter of the Forest is a book about a girl named Sorcha who is the youngest of seven children, all sons but her. Sorcha is the daughter of Lord Culom of Sevenwaters and was supposed to have been the seventh son, like he was. Her mother did not survive her birth, and due to his deep love for his wife Lord Culom was never the same. He distanced himself it seems from his children. Despite this Sorcha had a wonderful childhood and was looked after by her six brothers. The way this story is written and how the characters are written you can't help but love this family and the life the children have come to know. The siblings deeply care for each other and love each other. They each have their own personalities and their characters are well developed. There is a magic in the forest of Sevenwaters and the Fair Folk dwell there. Protecting the family and caring for "it's own". As the children get older the brothers begin to take their place in the family and start campaigning with their father trying to regain the Islands that their family has been entrusted to care for. This trilogy is woven together by the Islands and they are an important part of the Sevenwaters story.
Life changes are inevitable as you grow up, and Sorcha begins to learn this. We see her grow and face trails throughout the story, with appearances from the Fair Folk who do not fight Sorcha's battles but they give her advice and warnings. One day Lord Culom arrives engaged, some of the children can plainly see that the lady is a sorceress. But Lord Culom is under a spell, the children seek help to free their father and during this time the brothers are turned into swans. This sets Sorcha on a journey to free them with much heartache, pain, and grief. The task set before her is hard, long, sad. The ending is sad. In some ways it is happy, but in other ways it isn't. This quote sums it up:
“Real life is not quite as it is in stories. In the old tales, bad things happen, and when the tale has unfolded and come to its triumphant conclusion, it is as if the bad things had never been. Life is not as simple as that, not quite.”This is a beautiful telling of the classic Celtic Swans story, or the Hans Christian Anderson The Wild Swans story. The imagery and way Ms. Marillier weaves the story with Celtic folklore is beautiful. This book could easily be a favorite of mine, it's folklore, mythology, romance, historical fiction, it has a strong female heroine. My one thing about this book is that there is a graphic scene. Trigger warning: I'll tell you about it below this paragraph. If you don't want a spoiler or need to stay away from triggers about abuse, stop reading this now.
--Juliet Marillier, “Daughter of the Forest”
Okay, there is one part in the book that was just too graphic. It just didn't need to be there. Sorcha gets raped by some men, the writing was graphic. I think too much so. In the end there is a wedding night scene and there is no real talk about consensual loving acts. But the rape scene is described quite thoroughly. I was surprised that the violent act was given so much page space, yet the wedding bed was not. I think the rape scene could have been written briefly like the wedding night with no impact on the story. I would have much preferred the rape scene not be graphic and the book would have still been amazing.
All in all this is a great book. It was beautifully written, but a bit dark and heavy, not really a "feel good" novel. I have become a fan of Juliet Marillier's.
If there was a star rating I would be torn between giving this the five stars because I was so enchanted by telling and the tale, and 3.5-4.5 stars because some parts were unnecessary and because of them I can't recommend this book to everyone and their mother.
Would I read it again? Yes.
Would I recommend it to adults? Yes, I would not recommend this lightly because of the above scene.
What about teens? Were it not for the above scene I would. But no, despite the story and that the character is a teen, I wouldn't.
Daughter Of The Forest
Originally published: 1999
Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: The Sevenwaters Trilogy
Followed by: Son of the Shadows
Page count: 552
Genre: Historical fantasy
1 star – didn’t like it
2 stars – it was OK
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was amazing
Son Of The Shadows review coming soon...