Book Review: Daughter of the Forest

dotfThis book was highly recommended to me as it's no secret that I love fairytales (especially Celtic ones), so I'm actually a wee bit nervous that my review of this book is mixed. Daughter of the Forest is a modern fairytale inspired by the Children of Lir and "The Six Swans." The Children of Lir is a legend from Irish mythology and in that story and this one, a wicked stepmother transforms her step-sons into swans. In Daughter of the Forest, six brothers are turned into swans, but their sister (Sorcha) is spared and only she has the power to turn them back to their human form if she can complete a seemingly impossible task. Daughter of the Forest is very much Sorcha's story, as we follow her from childhood to adulthood, facing tragedy with admirable courage and grace. As I said earlier my feelings on this book are mixed--I did enjoy it (especially the second half) and I have even since read the second book of the series, but there are parts of the book that didn't sit well with me. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I do feel there was a bit of gratuitous violence which was unnecessarily detailed; you could have removed the violent act and the story would have worked just as well. It is common for our heroines to suffer in stories, but especially in books I feel that every event should have a purpose and further the story. If the violence is merely a random act almost there for shock purpose then I find it quite distracting and in this instance, it didn't quite fit with the tone. I also found it a bit frustrating that certain acts of violence were given quite a bit of detail but other important plot points were sparse. Sorcha for example is a healer who knows the forest well and what plants are beneficial; we are given some detail about plants that are bad and maybe one or two good ones are named, but I would have enjoyed a more immersive experience in the forest. She experiences many seasons but there's almost no detail there about how the scenery changes seasonally...maybe that's just the nature lover in me, but when a vast part of the story is taking place in a forest and around plants I'd like to have the plants named and described in a wee bit more detail! I also struggled a bit with some of the dialogue for the characters as not fitting with the overall tone and time setting of the book...So I guess I would say Juliet Marillier isn't going on my favorite authors list, but the characters and the story/plot itself made the book hard to put down. In the end, I really did enjoy Daughter of the Forest (as much as it might sound otherwise!) and will be reading more by Juliet Marillier. Not every book has to be our personal favorite to be a good book and I'll definitely re-read this book and more from the series in the future to see if my opinions alter. Sometimes your frame of mind when reading a story really changes how you relate to it or how much you enjoy it.

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