Friday, November 9, 2007

Review : Juliet Marillier - Wildwood Dancing, Cybele's Secret.

I am a sucker for a good fairytale. I believe that there are things we have to learn in this life, and I love the idea that are mischevious beings out there that want to teach us. Even if there aren't, I love that there are other people that think that way too. Juliet Marillier is one of the masters of fairytale. Her adult trilogy (Daughter of the Forest, Son of Shadows, Child of Prophesy) is one of the most intense and realistic fairytale adaptations I have ever read, so you can understand why i was interested when I discovered she had turned her hand to writing for young adults.

She has written two novels so far, Wildwood Dancing, and Cybele's Secret. Both are set in the same world, focussing on the same group of Seven Sister, but they are very different in feel and in flavour. As an aside, I was very miffed to discover that Cybele's Secret followed on from Wildwood Dancing, because there is absolutely no indication of it anywhere but within the story, where it essentially tells you what happened in Wildwood Dancing. However this is a marketing flaw, not a writing one, so I won't dwell on it too much.

Wildwood Dancing is the story of five sisters, who have discovered a secret portal from there bedroom, into the world of fey, where once a month on the full moon, they are allowed passage into the fey court for a night of dancing and revelery. Cybele's Secret is a followup, where one of the characters accompanies her father on a business trip and discovers a mystery of her own.

I liked Wildwood Dancing much more than Cybele's Secret. Wildwood Dancing brings you straight into the world of these girls, with one of their nightime trips. You get a feel for each of the characters and what makes them special, and it's not too long before things start to go awry. Juliet Marillier knows how to write strong female characters who may not know their own strength, but who are still determined to succeed, and who you can really feel for as a reader. I liked a lot that the main character wasn't the pretty and popular eldest sister, but the levelheaded and somewhat plain second sister, who is forced to try and keep the family together in the face of all that goes wrong. Which is a lot, things go from bad to worse quite quickly for these girls, and the story develops quite a dark feel, which makes me want to keep reading all the more. I know it is a fairly tale, so I know there will be a happy ending, but there is always that thought that maybe, just maybe, they're not going to pull it together in time....

Cybele's Secret on the other hand, lacks the tension that kept me hooked through wildwood dancing. It is set far from the world of the girls childhood castle, and Paula is instead exploring the world of ancient Istanbul. This would usually be quite interesting to me, but it's not what I expected from this type of story. I was constantly waiting for the faries to happen, and even though there clues to unravel and signs to interpret, rather than keeping me in the story they just frustrated me. There was no real danger for Paula, she didn't really have anything to lose, other than failing to be smart enough for the challanges that had been set before her. It wasn't until three quarters of the way through the book that things started to get really interesting. Paula does something daring, nearly gets one of her companions killed, and suddenly I'm in. From there, the book is exactly what I expected and wanted it to be - an adventure story with realistic characters.

For more information about Juliet Marillier, visit her website

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At November 12, 2007 at 8:34 PM , Blogger Dr. Swank said...

Nice review...dark fairy tales sound pretty neat...if I read books that is ;).

Still, I think the girlfriend would be into this series for sure.

At November 12, 2007 at 10:50 PM , Blogger Nicole Canal said...

lol, see books are much cheaper than games :)


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