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Sevenwaters #1

Daughter of the Forest

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A magnificent saga set in the Celtic twilight of 10th century Ireland, when myth was law and magic was a power of nature, brilliantly brought to life: the legendary story of an evil stepmother opposed by a seventh child.

The keep at Sevenwaters is a strange, remote place, guarded by silent men who slip through the woodlands clothed in grey, and keep their weapons sharp. Invaders roam outside: raiders from across the sea bent on destruction. But now there is also an invader inside the keep: the Lady Oonagh, a sorceress as fair as day, with a heart as black as night.

Oonagh captivates Lord Colum and his six sons, but she cannot enchant his daughter, Sorcha. Frustrated in her attempts to destroy the family, Oonagh binds the brothers with a spell only Sorcha can lift. If she fails, they will die.

When the raiders break through, Sorcha is taken captive. Soon she will find herself torn between her duty to break the curse and a growing, forbidden love for her captor.

672 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 1999

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About the author

Juliet Marillier

76 books11k followers
Juliet Marillier was born in Dunedin, New Zealand and grew up surrounded by Celtic music and stories. Her own Celtic-Gaelic roots inspired her to write her first series, the Sevenwaters Trilogy. Juliet was educated at the University of Otago, where she majored in music and languages, graduating BA and Bachelor of Music (Hons). Her lifelong interest in history, folklore and mythology has had a major influence on her writing.

Juliet is the author of twenty-one historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, as well as a book of short fiction. Juliet's novels and short stories have won many awards.

Juliet lives in a 110 year old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth, Western Australia. When not writing, she tends to her small pack of rescue dogs. She also has four adult children and eight grandchildren. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

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5 stars
32,873 (51%)
4 stars
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3 stars
7,750 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,205 reviews
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.3k followers
September 15, 2015
***Warning**** Mention of rape and discussion of such follows.

I gave this book four stars so obviously I did enjoy it. There are actually many, many enjoyable elements to this book and I promise to get to them in a moment...
I found myself so COMPLETELY annoyed with Daughter of the Forest though I really enjoyed the book. We are treated to the terrible acts committed against Sorcha and it's rather graphic at moments. Yet when it comes to consensual, loving sex - nothing. Fade to black the moment they enter the bedroom with only a passing comment that she had a moment of fear that was passed when lovingly consoled.

WHY?! Fuck if I know! I've read this so often in so many books. WHY is it okay to be descriptive of rape in books and to actually give a full account of what happens (or at least, close to) but loving, consensual, normal sex is not okay. If you write about that it goes in the romance genre? Is that why? Shouldn't we have examples of this kind of healthy relationship for people to read? Shouldn't healthy, happy sex be prevalent in books as the norm? Not rape, not gratuitous violent sex! Why does sex go in the romance section and the rape get to stay out of the shelves for us to read?

And the casual, dismissive attitude by the Fairy characters of this book made me furious.

"You are not the first woman of your race to be abused thus by men, nor will you be the last."

So... what you're saying is, "Get over it. Happens all the time."

My compliments to the fairy folk for providing this opinion. My only response is: fuck you, fairy bitches!

I'm not going to go into the rape aspect of this story any further than to say that the author at least did a good job of showing the after psychological effects and the long term damage that this act causes - so I wasn't all pissed off.

The book started slow, but as I said, I enjoyed it. The characters were beautiful, interwoven with fantasy and historical life. The forest took on a life of its own as another character in the book.

The character of Red was great, so were the other minor characters in the book. Over all, I enjoyed the beautiful story and the writing which was full and descriptive.

It broke my heart at the end because it wasn't all joy and not all hurts could be healed. I suppose that's what made the story so sad and almost real though it was so firmly planted in fantasy.

Well written, with a female protagonist worthy of the title "heroine" and an all round cast of great characters and a masterfully woven story, I did actually quite like this book.

Its not one I would read again as it's very long. I don't know if I'll have the emotional energy to pick up the second book. But I'm glad I read it and that says something I suppose.

*Kat goes off to find some damn good chocolate*
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,951 followers
October 17, 2022
Reread 2022. I’m leaving it at 4 stars. It’s too triggering for me at this time. I love the author and these characters so I’m torn


First let me give a shout out to the rapists and dog killer/abusers in the book with a gif below.

Now let's crack on with a short review 😊

So Sorcha was not born the seventh son. She was born a daughter with 6 older brothers. Finbar, Liam, Cormack, Conor, Padriac and Diarmid. These brothers take care of Sorcha and I forgot to mention she's a healer!

Well, one day their father brings home the evil sorceress that is to be the wicked stepmother!

Yeah, she puts an ole curse on the brothers and such. Sorcha has to find out from the Lady of the Forest what to do.

Right before all of this though, she helps one of her brothers free a Briton captive named Simon. Sorcha helps in his healing process until all of the curse stuff happens and she has to run away.

Bad things happen! Then later on she is found find some Britons who save her from a certain death. This would be Red (actually Lord Hugh), Ben and John. I loved all of these men. Especially Red! They were very kind to her, especially when they figured out what happened to her.

Anyhoo, they whisk her away to Briton and she has to face more ordeals while still working on breaking the curse and getting her brothers back.

A bunch of stuff happens, the curse is mostly broken and we have a mostly happy ending

Either way, I enjoyed it and will be continuing on with the books!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,753 followers
April 18, 2015
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

4.5 stars

Everything I could tell you about Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier can be summed up in a single paragraph from the story itself:

If I were telling this tale, and it were not my own, I would give it a neat, satisfying ending . . . In such stories, there are no loose ends. There are no unraveled edges and crooked threads. Daughters do not give their hearts to the enemy. The wicked do not simply disappear, taking with them the satisfaction of vengeance. Young men do not find themselves divided between two worlds. Fathers know their children.

But this was my own story.

Daughter of the Forest may have a happy ending, but is not a happy tale. It is full of terrible ironies, of monsters and men, of betrayals and heartbreak and endurance.

And it is absolutely beautiful.

Sorcha is the first daughter who should have been the seventh son. Her mother did not survive her birth, and her parents had loved each other so deeply that her father never fully recovered from the loss.

Instead he threw himself into the protection of his lands, and plotting to win back the three islands of great spiritual significance, stolen by the Britons.

On the rare occasions he was at home:

He didn't smile at me. Or at Finbar. Finbar said that was because we reminded Father of our mother, who had died. We were the two who inherited her curling, wild hair. I had her green eyes, and Finbar her gift for stillness. Besides, by being born I had killed her.

(It burrrrrrrrns us, preciousssssssssssssss.)

But Sorcha had her six elder brothers who carried her along with them on their adventures, and so she was happy.

For a time.

But as her brothers grew, they began to leave, campaigning with their father, and when the eldest became engaged, Sorcha knew that no matter how hard she fought against it, her world was forever changing.

And when the brother she has always been closest to enlists her help in freeing a prisoner, she begins her journey down a path with trials so numerous that the Fair Folk themselves have warned her of what she will face before the end.

I laughed. I cried. I raged. I pleaded. I loved, and my heart was broken. All b/c of this book.

If it wasn't for an ugly rape scene, Daughter of the Forest would have been my second 5.0 star read in over a year, so if you absolutely cannot handle that sort of thing, you have been duly warned. If you're unsure, I strongly suggest you check out Kat Kennedy 's review on Goodreads. BUT. If you think you can handle it . . . I know this isn't the first time I've sung Juliet Marillier's praises, but this time I entreat you: if you love fantasy at all, if you love fairy tales or retellings at all, read this book.

It is magic.

Highly recommended.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Michelle.
147 reviews239 followers
October 3, 2019
“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.”

The above quote, hands down, sums up “Daughter of the Forest” for me. Yes, this is a fairy tale, but it also speaks truth about life: about how once you go forward, you cannot go back to the beginning…because things are never the same again. This holds true for the heroine, Sorcha, as well as for the other characters in the story. No matter what she accomplishes, in the end, her life and that of all the characters is permanently changed--and sometimes that change comes in the form of wounds that will never truly heal. But underneath it all is a powerful message of hope, to press on and not give up, and everything will be worth it in the end.

“Daughter of the Forest” is a retelling of “The Six Swans” by the Brothers Grimm. Most fairy tale retellings I have read involve the tales being twisted or transposed in some way. Juliet Marillier, instead, expanded the tale by retaining its literal structure and all its fantastic details, while also focusing her attention on the human story within the magical frame. Despite the strong plot elements, this is principally a character-driven book. True, that the events in the story are beyond the characters’ control, but their reactions to these events, and the choices they make in response, truly shape the narrative. For me, these intelligent, convincing characterizations are the book's greatest strength, and my major motivation to see the story through despite the heartache it was causing me.

The book tells about the lengths that one young girl will take to save her brothers. There are really no adequate words to describe the heroine of this story. Stating that Sorcha's path was simply filled with hardships would be a huge understatement. Stating that Sorcha was simply a strong girl would not do her justice. What she had to endure was beyond comprehension and yet very believable. What she faces is heart wrenching and difficult to read at times, but she does not waver on her path. And amidst agonizing trials , she finds help and guidance in the form of a beguiling fairy queen, an unlikely savior turned protector, and in her brothers who are willing to give up their well-being to save hers. These pockets of goodness weave throughout the story, creating a beautiful tale.

Even though the romance does not take center stage, it still brought the house down! Let this quote explain it all:

“It matters not if you are here or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light of the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are - you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.”

A beautiful slow building romance is embedded in this story. It is the kind of love story that sneaks up on the characters. It is quiet and confusing and lovely to watch. Although Sorcha is the storyteller, the two tales that her hero tells are by far my favorites. Pay attention to them!

Overall, this was a sensational read, and I am glad that I picked it up. This is one of those books that you wouldn't want to end, though you know it must. And when you've read those final words on that last page, there's that sense of loss --and the feeling that you don't want to forget these characters, the things they endured, and the places they inhabited. This is one of those books that kept me on the edge of my seat with several wet handkerchiefs in my wake, and all that goes back to Marillier's writing. It is descriptive , lovely, and evocative. You could lose yourself in her words! The pace is on the slower side, but it just gives you a chance to truly appreciate the author's talent. This book is meant to be savored, to be cherished, and to be read again and again.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
June 8, 2021
This book remains one of the best fairy tale retelling I've ever read. Marillier grounds this familiar story in a tremendously rich historical and cultural context. However, this book is dense, and it is long and gut-wrenching. For me, it needs some lightness to be a 5-star read.

Also, I remembered very little about Daughter of the Forest before this reread. But one thing I did remember - it was Kat's review of it, in which she talked about the need for authors to not only depict traumas and their aftermath in a real way in their books, but the healing process too. Kat is right. Sorcha goes through a lot in this novel to save her brothers, but her "healing by love" was quick and not entirely realistic.
4.7 stars

Aside from a couple of minor qualms, Daughter of the Forest is pretty much an example of an almost perfect debut novel.

This book is a beautiful retelling of the Celtic "Swans" myth, which has been familiar to me since childhood through the Hans Christian Andersen's version - The Wild Swans. Sorcha is the seventh child and the only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. When Colum remarries after being widowed for almost 13 years, the evil stepmother (and witch) puts a dreadful spell on Sorcha's six older brothers. The only way to lift the spell is for Sorcha to undertake a difficult task accompanied by a lot of pain, loss, and terror...

The best part about this book is that Juliet Marillier stays pretty close to the source material, not transforming the original into an unrecognizable horror fest as some modern writers often do. Instead, she enhances the myth with a beautiful love story, realistic historical background, admirable characters, skillful infusion of ancient magic, stories of dedicated friendships and unyielding sibling devotion, and a couple of utterly despicable villains.

There are not many flaws to this wonderfully written book. The story is intense, heartbreaking, and passionate. My main complaint is its length. While the book is only 400 pages, at times it felt it was twice that size. No matter how much I read, I couldn't get through more than 50 pages per day. I don't know if the font was small or the narration was a little heavy, but it took me forever to finish this book.

I loved the story and there are some intriguing loose ends left unresolved and therefore I am pretty certain I will read the second book in the series - Son of the Shadows, but I definitely need some time to regroup, because it's even longer than Daughter of the Forest.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
408 reviews910 followers
August 7, 2018
I want to call this book a combination of Kushiel's Dart and Assassin's Apprentice. But in reality, Daughter of the Forest is a category all its own. A gorgeous mix of historical fiction and fantasy, an insightful hero’s journey with a dash of romance. It’s been some time since I’ve had the pleasure of reading a book so deserving of five stars.

Sorcha, daughter of the forest, tells her own tale in this book about an ancient Celtic/British feud and the magical undertones that influence it. She is born the seventh child of a powerful Irish warlord, raised by six brothers as a healer. They grow up surrounded by the spirits and fae of the forest, who entangle Sorcha’s fate with two brothers, part of the enemy side.
There is something truly alive about Sorcha’s character and her voice as she recounts the horrible suffering and passionate love she experiences. It gives the impression that Juliet Marillier knows her heroine as completely and clearly as an enlightened guru knows himself. The author doesn’t just tell a story through Sorcha; Sorcha is the story.

I personally have a lot of love and admiration for old Celtic culture. The music, the tales, the mythology, the history – all of it is fascinating. (My friends like to tease me for listening to fiddle music in public places, but that’s the life of a Celtic superfan, I suppose.)

So the Sevenwaters series is directly up my alley. Marillier immerses her readers in the old Irish countryside and the culture of its residents. The setting is absolutely vital to this book, descriptions and imagery not just enhancing the story, but dictating the plot and creating a breathtaking writing style.
“We draw our strengtyh from the great oaks of the forest. As they take their nourishment from the soil, and from the rains that feed the soil, so we find our courage in the pattern of living things around us. They stand through storm and tempest, they grow and renew themselves. Like a grove of young oaks, we remain strong.”

Reading this book, you will feel like you are standing in a clearing with Sorcha and her brothers, waiting for a recently healed owl to take flight into the starry sky, and sensing the sentient presence of the ancient forest. You will experience every setting like in a 3D surround-sound movie. The imagery is that good.

As for the love interest(s?), I couldn’t help but fall in love. Even though romance is not the biggest plotline in the book, the feelings that develop are so deep that it feels earth-shattering every time Sorcha meets her love interest. Their every interaction seems to shift the world off its axis.
Strangely enough, despite the passion behind Sorcha’s love story, it took me a long time to even be sure who her love interest would be. Or whether there would even be one! That uncertainty was part of the intrigue of the romance, and what made it so emotional when their love finally became a reality.

This one's going on my instant favorites shelf. Nothing could keep it off!
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.9k followers
April 17, 2016
“All that he had of her was his memory,where he held every moment,every single moment that she had been his.That was all he had,to keep out the loneliness.”

Daughter of the Forest is one of those books.The ones that are scored on my heart,the ones that caused both my awe and respect for the story and for the author.For it takes a tremendous amount of talent and soul to write such a book.

I recall the tale of the Six Swans,I remember being a little girl watching the animated version,and it made me so sad that the heroine had to go through so many hardships to save her brothers.Reading about it though,about Sorcha's adventures and misfortunes was something widely different.It felt like a fairytale,the descriptions and the evil witch and the Fair Folk and the brotherly love,but it was not one.Because fairytales show just the tip of the iceberg,the evil that is only necessary for the story to go on,or else the children that crave them would have trouble sleeping.It wasn't only Oonagh the villain,although this malicious woman casted the curse and brought misery to everyone.It wasn't only Richard and his ambitions.It were also those horrible men in the forest,the peasants and the household who tormented Sorcha,even the Fair Folk,who thought the mortals are toys for their amusement.But Sorcha survived.She is one the strongest and most extraordinary heroines I have ever met.So kind,so fierce,so devoted and loyal.She never had second thoughts about what she had to do to save her brothers,she put her family first.Except that one moment,when she couldn't let Red die.
“Perhaps this is what the stories meant when they called somebody heartsick. Your heart and your stomach and your whole insides felt hollow and empty and aching. ”

That is precisely how I felt during this story,especially when she bid Red farewell.This is a romance like no others.So tender yet so passionate,so impossible yet so right.I loved Red for loving and protecting Sorcha,for being patient,for being such a brave and kind man.He often brought me tears.The way Juliet Marillier unfolds the romantic element in this novel is proof enough that extended make-out sessions or sexual tension is not the only way to make a love story memorable and worthwhile.Healing someone's wounds,being there for them,being kind when the entire world shows hatred and malice,protecting them and putting their happiness above yours,this is also true love.
“He would have told her - he would have said, it matters not if you are here or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light of the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are - you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.”

Daughter of the Forest is a book I will always cherish deeply,that will always be a part of me.There is no better gift than that.
Profile Image for Nicole.
749 reviews1,936 followers
June 11, 2021
Daughter of the Forest has been on my tbr list for a long while now, I’m glad I finally read it. I have read mixed reviews about this book so my expectations weren't particularly high. It was interesting enough, the writing was beautiful, makes you feel like you're living in a different world and a different time, the characters were lovable, and the story was gripping. It really had a magical fairytale retelling feel to it.

Probably what I liked the most in this book was the characters, especially Sorcha's brothers. I have not read the original fairytale thus I cannot judge whether it was faithful to it or not. It definitely had a retelling vibe, however. By the end, not all of the issues were resolved and I suppose we can find out what happened in the next books, which I'm not going to read (because I heard none is as good).

I have to mention the writing again for it was alluring and I am not one who pays much attention to it. It was truly captivating and made it difficult for me to stop reading. Sometimes the book dragged but it was fine because it didn't last long.

Before reaching the end, I was thinking of rating this book 4 stars (even though I had my reservations, for example, once Sorcha was forced to take only one thing with her and she was starving so instead of eating the food and taking whatever else she wants, she left it behind. I found this pretty stupid). A very apparent weakness of the Marillier's book was that everything happened to Sorcha. She did not take initiative and choices were mostly made for her because she was always unsure. Yes, she went through a lot and she is strong. However, I like my heroines to be more audacious. Other than that, she was likable. The ending was not satisfying for me, I mean sure I like many of its aspects but it could've been better. Again it might be partially because I wanted more answers...

Even though the Sorcha is in her early teens, this book can't be classified as young-adult or middle grade since it contains a somewhat explicit rape scene.

As for the romance, I feel like I should clarify something so that if anyone reads this review and later the book, doesn't fall into this trap like I did, which affected my reading experience considerably. This book is classified as Romance too and all the time I was waiting for it to happen... because I thought Simon is the love interest. Well, he's not. So don't do early matchmaking because it's someone else.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,173 followers
December 8, 2012
Incredible. I know I've said I've been speechless when reading books before, but this time, I genuinely don't have the words to express what a masterpiece this novel is. I actually finished this novel early today morning, at around 1:30, but it was only at 2:30-ish that I actually got up to go to sleep. I couldn't get this story out of my head; I simply kept thinking about it. If Juliet Marillier hadn't already made a fan out of me with Heart's Blood, then I'd be tripping over myself to fall at her feet for truly, this book is remarkable.

Daughter of the Forest is known to be one of the best fantasy novels out there, but it's hard to believe just how good it is until you read it. From its cover, it seems to be a simplistic fairy tale re-telling, but it's a fairy tale like no other. We don't have any knights in shining armor; instead, the princess has to save herself. We don't have an innocent girl for whom circumstances clear up and solve her problem; we have a broken girl who has to struggle to find happiness. Sorcha is the youngest of seven children, six of whom are boys. Thus, she has grown up sheltered, loved, and cared for by her siblings. When her father re-marries, however, bringing Lady Oonagh, a deadly sorcerer, into their peaceful abode, Sorcha's life is turned upside down. Lady Oonagh turns her beloved brothers into swans and the only way for Sorcha to break the spell is to weave six shirts made of a prickly nettle and remain silent for her entire ordeal. It is only when the shirts have been made and worn by her brothers that the spell will be broken, but the journey that Sorcha will embark on will change more than just her future, it will change her very being and shatter her to her core.

Daughter of the Forest starts out slowly, introducing us to Sorcha, her world, and her close relationship with her brothers. Thus, when her brothers are turned into swans, we, as readers, feel just as much pain as Sorcha herself. I could feel myself visibly wincing every time Sorcha was reminded of her past life with her brothers, full of happiness and delight. Daughter of the Forest  is a dark tale. A  very  dark tale. I sobbed for a solid five minutes at one point in this story because of the utter horror of the situation. Yet, despite all the darkness, there is a subtle undercurrent of hope, of happiness, of love. It's all so beautifully interwoven that one cannot help but be reminded of life itself with its ups and downs and darkness and light.

You see, Daughter of the Forest is a painfully realistic tale. Sorcha has an incredible trove of inner strength. I admire her immensely and she's one of those heroines I'll never forget.  I could simply be in the supermarket having a bad day and Sorcha is one of those protagonists who will come to mind and I already know I'll tell myself, "If Sorcha could go through all that, I can get through today." Sorcha isn't a saint - she's only human and that is felt so palpably despite the ordeal she manages to go through. Thus, despite the seemingly amazing feats she manages to achieve, Marillier weaves this tale in such a way that she is able to convey that each and every one of these ordeals is possible to overcome, just as anything is with the right dose of love, faith, and perseverance.

Nevertheless, one of my favorite aspects of this novel is, hands-down, the romance. If Marillier is the Queen of Slow Burn Romance, I am the Glutton of Slow Burn Romance. I can't get enough of it and Marillier writes it to pure perfection. What I loved about the romance in this novel, particularly, is the fact that it manages to happen all without Sorcha uttering a word. Somehow, against all odds, Sorcha manages to find someone who understands her very soul, who sees her task as a brave ordeal she is facing, and who can understand her with little difficulty, despite her silence. Furthermore, Sorcha never even realizes that she's falling in love. As the reader, we can see this romance unfold in front of our eyes, but Sorcha's task remains to be the main plot thread, until eventually, Sorcha comes to realize the love she had and how, despite not realizing it before, she needs the very presence of her lover to calm her. For, to be in love isn't necessarily to crave physical affection or even understanding, but often, it comes from the most basic, innocent, and true primitive instinct of needing that other person's presence and strength by you. It is this that Marillier manages to embody so beautifully within this novel and I can't get enough of it.

Daughter of the Forest is a dark, emotional, and achingly bittersweet fantasy like no other. It is one that kept me on the edge of my seat with a box of tissues within the grasp of my hand and a warm blanket draped over me. It's one of those stories that continues to plague you long after you've read it as you marvel over both the author's creativity and skill along with the characters and their complexity. I can't recommend this book enough, but really, everyone should read this. Everyone. Like all fairy tales, Daughter of the Forest contains a trove of themes and lessons and Marillier conveys all this in a subtle and beautiful manner that touches and stays with you like nothing else quite does.  Truly, if there's one book you should make yourself read before you die, it's this one.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,643 reviews1,511 followers
March 15, 2019
Sale Alert 3/15/19: Daily Deal on Amazon for $2.99

It has taken me forever to get to this review because I was just not sure how I could possibly pack everything I felt during this book into coherent words stuck together that would even possibly do it justice. I still don’t think that I will be able to manage it but I’ll try.

Daughter of the Forest (DoF) takes an old Irish legend/fairy tale and breathes new life into it. I was not familiar at all with the original version of this story so I cannot comment on how closely it follows but I will say this is not a Disney version of a fairytale. It is dark, painful and horrifying at times but it is also balanced with extreme love, devotion and hope. So even though it breaks your heart DoF will do its best to patch it up again.
This hurts, I know. But you have been strong before, and you will be now. What is burned can be replaced; what is destroyed can be made again. In time you will win back your voice. In time—in time, you will find your path back home

This is not a watered down version of a legend. DoF follows Sorcha over years first chronicling the time she spent growing up with her brothers to the events that led to the curse. It laid the foundation very well for how close Sorcha was to all of her brothers and the strife between the Irish and the English. I really believed how much she loved her brothers and why she would undertake such a large task in an attempt to save them.

Sorcha is not the normal kick-butt heroine that you see in a lot of new fantasy. She has a solid heart, kindness in abundance and a quite determination that she uses to complete her task. She also has a type of subdued magic, not in the sense that she makes spells and such but more natural from a time when people cared about the forest and treated it and the spirits within it with reverence. A time when the realm of Fae was just a wrong turn away and you could easily be caught up in one of their schemes and games.

The magic of the story isn’t overpowering it feels natural and like it is meant to be there instead of forced. I really enjoyed that and thought it fit well with the task that was given to Sorcha to save her brothers from the curse that turned them into swans.
╰⊰✿Everything I Loved✿⊱╮

There is so much that is really wonderful in this story. It is told entirely from Sorcha’s PoV and sometimes that doesn’t work for me in fantasy but it made this story feel all the more personal. I connected with Sorcha right away and saw how she grew from an innocent giving child who knew nothing about the true dangers of the world into a resilient young woman who sacrificed much of her childhood to save the brothers that she was so close to.

When Sorcha started her task she was but a child still and even though she knew a lot about healing, she really didn’t understand how long it would take her to complete her task or any of the other obstacles that would get in the way of that. The Fae had a plan set into motion for her and although not all of the pieces clicked together right away you could see how each obstacle set in her path shifted and changed her into the woman she was destined to become.

For part of the story she is completely isolated and the story was a little slower for me through this section as I felt all the loneliness that Sorcha was feeling. I liked the story much more once she found a companion and protector in Red.
“Take this to light your way, daughter of the forest,” she said. “You told me you were tired of being strong. Maybe you will not need to be so strong, now.” She placed a tiny around candle, herb scented, in my open hand. She turned to the Briton. “You hurt her with your unthinking words,” she said, and her eyes had lost any warmth they had once had. “Make sure she is not hurt again.” And before he could draw breath, she turned and was gone.

Red made this story for me. He is EVERYTHING I love in a good hero. He is the epitome of a quixotic character. He is noble, kind and stoic. He is a man that is strong and can be counted on in any situation and I ADORE HIM. When he found Sorcha she had been beaten down and broken possibly even close to giving up, but Red is patient and so respectful to her even though she is technically one of the enemy. Red never sits too close, he learns to listen to Sorcha’s body, face and eyes to learn about her. He takes the time to really get to know her and even though she cannot speak he learns to hear her. The story of their time together is beautiful, frustrating, hopeful and probably every other emotion in-between.
Here I am telling tales, and half believing them. For I think sometimes that you, too, will go back one day, hear the call of the sea and slide away under the water as Toby’s mermaid did. Or maybe one night, as I watch outside your window, I will see an owl fly out and vanish into the forest; and when I look for you, all that will be left is one small feather on your pillow.

Sorcha has many other dealing with people and those never go as smooth but she did find a few friends besides Red in a land of enemies and they were all wonderful. There are also quite a few people to despise and hate along the way for their cruelty and bias against Sorcha. The fact that she isn’t allowed to speak at all while completing her task made me even more frustrated for her.

There was so much TENSION that built and built and I really wasn’t sure how things would end up. I had a lot of hopes but I was left with so many doubts and I could just see things ending tragically. This is not a traditional HEA story which actually made me love it more in some ways. There are some areas that had true happiness and others that didn’t get the resolution that you might expect. I really liked that not everything was tied up with a nice bow at the end. It made everything in this seem so much more real.

There are a few things that really worked in the story but that I didn’t love due to the nature of them. I will discuss those below. Please note they may be spoilerish in details.
╰⊰✿Warnings and Cautions✿⊱╮

There will be a few spoilers (the general ones are not marked because they are part of the warning)

Like I mentioned before This is not a Disney Version of a Fairytale meaning there are some extremely graphic scenes of violence and abuse. I completely understand why these are in the story and I think the author did a fantastic job with them and how they affected the character. They aren’t thrown in just to build drama they really did serve the story and really showed Sorcha’s dedication to her task and everything she had to go through to complete it.

I’m really sensitive to two things in books. The first is Rape and the second is animal deaths. This story had both of those and I’m not going to lie they were rough….really really rough. But they served a really large part of the story. Those events changed who Sorcha was and really showed how strongly she was willing to fight to complete the task and save her brothers. The way she interacted with people and trusted was forever changed and it actually added to the love story the way that Red was so patient with Sorcha and how well he tamped down his own emotions and wants in an effort to never scare her and gain her trust. DID I MENTION I LOVE ❤RED❤

I’m so glad that it was never swept under the rug. I think it showed a real account of how someone rebuilds her life after an event like that. My one and really only complaint is that while the rape scene was really graphic the very much later scene involving sex was not quite fade to black but pretty close. I would have liked to see a little more of that transition and how it was dealt with by the couple.

The other thing that was a little over the top for me was the villain Richard. He is aweful and does some absolutely horrendous things to Sorcha, but it is more mental abuse than physical. Still it was really difficult at times to read those parts, as intended but non-the-less he is very graphic in some of his mental abuse as well.
╰⊰✿You Should Still Read This✿⊱╮

Even though there are some rough patches this is still a highly entertaining story that will tug at all your heart strings. I have thought about multiple sections of this story repeatedly over the last few weeks and have even gone back and reread some of my favorite sections. It is a truer story than most where not everything is handed to you, at the end there are still questions in my mind and I think about the characters and where their paths led them.

If you, like me, are a fan of Melina Marchetta, like stories with complicated paths or can be happy with a story that isn’t all rainbows and sunshine then this is probably something that you will enjoy.

Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,962 followers
July 25, 2023
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is one of the best books I’ve read this year, enchanting from the first page. I’ve been longing for a story and prose just like this. Already I want to read it again, to wring out every emotion and savor each word.

This book is a tragic historical fantasy retelling of the Six Swans fairy tale. In the traditional story, a young girl’s six brothers are turned into swans by a sorceress. In order to break the curse, the sister must remain completely silent until she sews six shirts from stinging nettles, which will turn the swans back into her brothers. Daughter of the Forest is set in early Ireland and follows Sorcha, a young healer with the unflinching devotion and strength of will to embark on this agonizing task. Although the book maintains the feel of a folktale with the writing style and the incorporation of mystical magic, Marillier adds more to the story than the Six Swans detailed, most notably the historical backdrop and the divide between two cultures, which Sorcha must confront.

The writing style is indescribably beautiful. Every sentence feels like something living and breathing, like a brief glimpse of the forest, the sea, a character’s subtle expression. Marillier has a gift for giving specific and heartbreaking detail without overwriting emotions or descriptions. Even though Daughter of the Forest is quite dense, it is not unnecessarily so, and it never slowed down enough to lose my attention.

I fell in love with the characters, with their sweetness and insight and desolate hurt that felt like a ruthless fist around my heart. It’s been a while since I’ve been so enraptured by a full cast of characters. I was worried that I wouldn’t care for the brothers individually, since there are six of them, but Marillier made them each unique and flawed in their own ways. I was especially attached to Conor and Finbar. The beautiful bond between the siblings and their shared strength is one of the many highlights of this book. It prevents the plot—particularly Sorcha’s unwavering determination to accomplish her task—from becoming unrealistic and hard to believe.

It’s difficult to write an interesting character who is so kind and good, especially when the story is told from one perspective. But Sorcha is more than interesting; her pain, her love for her brothers, her wisdom, every bitter challenge she faces with gentle strength—it all feels real. She is one of my new favorite fictional characters. I can already imagine myself asking what Sorcha would do in the face of difficult decisions. Although Daughter of the Forest is not a happy story and gets more painful as it progresses, leading to a melancholy ending that left me with tears in my eyes, I was still inspired by the characters. There is considerable beauty in this book along with the sorrow.

The Six Swans is my favorite folktale, and this is my new definitive retelling of it. I can’t fathom any way to do the story justice better than Juliet Marillier already has. Daughter of the Forest is impossibly good.

5 stars
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,991 reviews298k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 18, 2012

No Rating

I cannot fairly rate this book so I'm going to leave it as it is. I was originally attracted by the high ratings and positive reviews but I discovered early on that, for whatever reason, this book simply isn't for me. I couldn't appreciate the story enough to read on and that is why I won't insult it by giving the kind of low rating I usually give to abandoned books. In this instance, it was definitely me and not the story or writing.
Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.8k followers
December 29, 2019
While this is beautifully written, I probably wouldn’t have gotten through this without listening to it on audio during a long car ride. I think, as others have noted, it’s the main characters lack of agency that made the story harder to connect to. Things happen to her, mostly caused by others, she literally has no voice for most of the story and even when she does it’s mostly pushed aside. Realistic for the time it’s set in but not a story I love to engage with. Fans of the Winternight trilogy will probably enjoy this, as I found there were similarities, except that protagonist had far more agency. Glad I finally read this but I won’t continue with the series.
August 5, 2011
I have always loved the fairy tale about the sister with numerous brothers who had a wicked stepmother who enchanted her brothers to turn them into birds. The number of brothers and the type of birds can vary. I have seen it with ravens and with swans. In Daughter of the Forest, Ms. Marillier used the version in which the heroine has six brothers and they are all turned into swans. I must say I truly enjoyed (and devoured) this heartbreaking, emotionally wrenching novel based on that fairy tale. I like the way this version is set in Dark Ages Ireland, in which the Irish fight against the British to maintain their sacred islands and to keep their own faith. In this case, the heroine is the seventh child born to parents who are mystically blessed. Her mother died in childbirth and bequeathed a spiritual legacy and a deep bond to her seven children.

The theme of family is a huge foundation of this story. These siblings would do anything for each other, and their bonds of loyalty are severely tested. This is one of those books where you scream to the heavens in agony, asking "WHY?" in a loud voice. So many trials and hardships. I was prepared from the fairy tale, but the additional detail in this story and the foreknowledge of some major aspects make it that much more wrenching to read. And what happens to Sorcha while she is in the forest, that just about broke me.

A person would have to be made of stone to not be moved by the trials that Sorcha endures. Not just that, but the cruelty that is so much a part of life for people in this story. Ms. Marillier tackles the subject of war between cultures. In this book, you start out seeing the Irish side, but Sorcha's brother Fimbar has always looked at the issue of warring cultures as a construct that falsely divides people who are at their heart just humans. He wants to see both sides, and he wants to find a way for both the Irish and the British to see each other as allies instead of enemies. His warlike father Lord Colum doesn't understand that at all. His heart died with his wife, and his focus has become fixed on conquest and protection of their lands from the British, at any cost. As this story progresses, and I met Simon, a Briton who was captured and cruelly tortured by Lord Colum's forces (and liberated and healed by Sorcha and a kindly Christian priest that dwells on their lands); and later meeting Lord Hugh, who saves Sorcha's life and protects on her dangerous mission to save her bothers,and his people--I could see that there was good and bad on both sides. For that's just the nature of humanity. Alas, this reader has a very tender heart, and I was affected deeply by the dark times that unfold in this story. I was also struck by the unfairness of it all. As much as that bothered me, I couldn't imagine being the characters in this book. Sorcha seems to be put in a position that no thirteen-year-old (at the time her mission starts) should have to face. The Fair Folk have chosen her for this responsibility, and neither her nor I really truly understood what their game was. What was the author trying to say here? That life is pain, and it doesn't seem to make sense. That we can make up explanations for it, but in the end, we just have to buck up and deal. I guess that is true to some extent. There are so many twists and turns, and life is full of these unfair situations. Like Sorcha, I rely on my faith to make sense of it, and to keep me strong. Even though my faith is different from hers, I could identify with her in that sense, and in the love she feels for her family.

There are many memorable characters in this story. Of course, Sorcha. Sweet, loving, enduring, fiercely determined Sorcha. She is the willow that will bend but won't break. Her brothers (all distinct and lovable), Simon (who formed a bond with Sorcha that affected them both deeply), and Lord Hugh (who is called Red), just to start with. Characters that I loved and cried for in my heart at how they suffered. I wondered how the author could be strong enough to show her characters hurting, dying, and being subject to the cruel actions of bad people. I know it wasn't at all easy to read. The villains are so evil, you just want to tear them limb from limb. Just evil because they can be. Lord Richard seemed even worse than Lady Oonagh, despite her dark witchcraft. He was the type who was pure human, but with the mentality of a devil. Both with secret ambitions brewing in hearts so black they don't even seem human. As I read, I shook my fist at them both, and willed Sorcha and her brothers to be strong. Like Sorcha, I could not help but love Red. What a wonderful man!

This was an absorbing story. It's truly angsty and sorrow-filled. The kind of book that leaves a lingering essence of melancholy in me after I finish it, even though the ending is relatively upbeat, for the most part. But the emotional scars of what occurs in this book didn't fade even when the book was over. They stayed with me. That's the power of a good book. You don't want to finish a book and think, "What did I just read, because I don't feel a thing?" Nope, that's not this book.

For those fairy tale lovers, this is a must read. It captures this beautiful story of a sweet but enduringly strong heroine whose love for her brothers takes her to very dark extremes, but that love is pure enough to help her save them and herself. People say that fairy tales are chauvinistic and show women as weak, under others' control, always needing a prince to save them. I don't think they have read this one, or they wouldn't dare say that. And what is strength anyway? Did Samson's strength protect him from Delilah's wiles? Did Hercules fare any better in his tragic life for all his strength? No, to me, the greatest strength is that of a loving, enduring heart. And no one has more strength than Sorcha in that regard.
Profile Image for Viburnum (hiatus).
22 reviews237 followers
September 12, 2023
I loved this.

The bucolic, fairytale-like atmosphere. The descriptions lush yet delicately budded, and words unfurling, vivid and thriving in the way wildflowers would. There was something about the writing that felt as if it'd blossomed alive. A forest, wild and untamed. Like thorns and nettles. Snagging in my soul, scratching and cutting straight into my heart.

And I loved the characters. The subtle shades and vibrant tones, all painted together to create such rich, colourful tapestries. And I loved how human all of them were, how they were so flawed and fractured and full of hurt. I cried for Sorcha, for how she suffered. The words unsaid and swollen inside her throat. The pain a tight chokehold around her heart. She was such a compelling protagonist, someone who'd shattered and who remade herself—and who, in the end, turned her suffering into strength.

Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews884 followers
April 4, 2018
The pages of this book flow like a river of sorrow and anguish, and pain, and loneliness, courage, and hope, and an unyielding love. But the stream is strong so once the current of the Six Swans retelling has caught you, you will be there, held like under a spell and unable to stop. It is not an easy tale but, oh, a beautiful one.

The fairy tale is known, and so I am not spoiling anything by telling you that Daughter of the Forest tells us a story of Sorcha, the youngest child of the Lord of Sevenwaters whose father is bewitched by and then married to the evil sorceress who changes Sorcha’s six older brothers into swans. The girl flees into the forest, and when she learns that there is a way to lift the curse, she is determined to do so, regardless of how daunting the task and hopeless the chance. (By the by, the forest is a living creature in its own right and much better than the one attempted in Uprooted).

There are six brothers: solemn Liam, the oldest, a leader; sunny Diarmid - the hot-headed warrior; Conor and Cormack, twins like mirror images but, oh, so very different! one deep and subtle beyond years and immersed in the old ways, the other like quicksilver, bold and fearless; Padriac, eager for knowledge, inventor and explorer whom all the wild creatures know as a friend, and finally Finbar, the most sensitive and mysterious with the Sight to see farther than an ordinary man and an ability to heal the spirit. Considering that they spent most of the book in the bird form, it needs to be said that Ms Marillier did a wonderful job fleshing their varied personalities out.

But the tale belongs to Sorcha [FYI, in case you didn’t brush up your Gaelic, you should pronounce it SOR-ra] and she is the first person narrator. Sorcha lives her life sheltered and knows nothing about the world until one day the world comes right into her face. She is a creature of the wild, barefoot and somewhat magical. Nobody really raised the girl so all her childhood she did whatever she wanted, mostly mimicking her brothers in a very masculine household without a woman able to reign the girl in. Her brothers dote on her, and even if she is not spoiled, she is most definitely pampered and sheltered. No wonder she didn’t get along with the evil stepmom, you think.

Obviously, but in order to understand the gravity of what has happened, you need to understand the connection between the siblings: “the seven of us were of one flesh and one spirit as surely as the seven streams of our childhood flowed and mingled in the great shining heart of the lake”. Taking away the brothers feels as if somebody robbed Sorcha of parts of her soul or dissected parts of her body. And so she agrees to make six starwort shirts, and the solitude of her quest is further compounded by another condition - absolute silence:

“From the moment you leave this place till the moment of your brothers’ final return to humankind, no word must pass your lips, no cry, no song, no whisper must you utter. Nor will you tell your story in pictures, or letters, or in any other way to living creature. You will be silent, mute as the swans themselves. Break this silence, and the curse remains forever.”

Nobody said it was going to be easy. In fact, the story swiftly takes you from bad to worse to horrendous in a sequence of events that are wonderful and terrible, and plain and twisted.

“You will find the way, daughter of the forest. Through grief and pain, through many trials, through betrayal and loss, your feet will walk a straight path.”

But Sorcha is a fighter and she is a survivor. In fact, she is one of the fiercest heroines in all fantasy I have ever read. I know what images spring to your mind when you think about a “tough-cookie” female protagonist. There are countless warrior-princesses, assassins, fighters, and other martially adept figures known and loved by many. I’m sure I don’t need to name them for you. Even if the book starts with a relatively young and innocent girl, after reaching a breaking point she either turns to violence or becomes a disillusioned schemer well versed in the ways of the “real world”. Not Sorcha, no easy way out for her. Her path, her task in inhumanely difficult and yet she does not resort to violence (which is means employed by majority of the contemporary authors, how easy it is, you give the girl a sword or something and just off she goes on a killing spree), she doesn’t transform into an alter-image of her enemy either. As she fights against the despair and disasters that befell upon her and the wretchedness of her fate, she remains her true self, patient, emphatic, tenuous healer. She doesn’t give up even if she gives in at times, she bends but she doesn’t yield and she never, not even once, wallows that the price she is paying is too high.

And it is high, exorbitant even. There are hunger and loneliness, there are all kinds of mistreatment including rape and bereavement including loss of friends both in human and animal form. The threads of Sorcha’s story are tangled, knotted, falling into chaos from bad to worse to beyond endurance and yet, with every twist of sharp thread and every starwort thorn stabbing her fingers, she prevails. There is one thing that needs to be said about the rape scene. It is brutal, wrecking, it truly annihilated me emotionally. In a way, the difficulty in reading it only attests to author's talent. Fantasy these days, and not only grimdark fantasy, also epic and high fantasy, gives out violence like candies and rape like cookies, as all fans of ASOIAF know. And yet, this was painful to take in so proceed with caution.

But as much as Daughter of the Forest is about endurance, it is also a love story. Love is beautifully wrought out by Ms Marillier and with exquisite care. There is nothing instantaneous about it, noting primarily carnal (can you believe that Sarah J. Maas?!), although it is undeniably sexual. Red will melt all your chocolates ladies. Marillier gives you a romance that is made of unspoken words and unmade gestures, unconditional trust, and unconscious need. One of the best out there .

“You know not, yet, the sort of love that strikes like a lightning bolt; that clutches hold of you by the heart, as irrevocably as death; that becomes the lodestar by which you steer the rest of your life. I would not wish such a love on anyone, man or woman, for it can make your life a paradise, or it can destroy you utterly.”

Marillier shows us the true face of magic for what sets the brothers free is not some ritual or the properties of starwort plant, but the sacrifice and love woven into shirts stained with blood from Sorcha’s hands and wet with her tears.

The prose is beautiful, it grows on the reader, wild and unforgiving in a forest of emotions wild as the Fae as the tale branches, and twists, and leads the travellers to places far beyond their wildest imaginings. Simultaneously, the novel is most definitely slow-paced. The newer books just accustomed us to movie-style non-stop action, whereas the older novels spare pages to build the ambiance, and paint the background of the background. After 100 pages in I had expected some major drama/action/development, but all I got was premonitions and foreshadowing. If you are partial to this kind of buildup, you might struggle with the book. What is more, even though it is a historical fantasy ripe with all things Celtic, some "suspension of disbelief" is required to enjoy the story fully (because it is a fairytale retelling after all).

I liked that the ending wasn't neat, that some strands of the tale were left jagged, its heroes a little bit damaged, some questions still unanswered, some answers already lost. And I am looking forward to continuing the series.

Other Sevenwaters books:

2. Son of the Shadows
3. Child of the Prophecy
4. Heir to Sevenwaters
5. Seer of Sevewaters
6. Flame of Sevenwaters
Profile Image for Elena.
124 reviews996 followers
July 10, 2018
Cinco estrellas por lo immersa en la historia que me ha hecho sentir Juliet Marillier.
No había acabado el primer capítulo y ya algo me decía que iba a disfrutar muchísimo el libro y que no iba a poder soltarlo hasta acabarlo.
Destaco su fenomenal ambientación y folklore celta, sus personajes, incluso su ritmo que a veces puede parecer algo pausado pero que fluye con una naturalidad y elegancia en la escritura que hace que no te des cuenta del progreso que vas haciendo en la lectura hasta que se termina.
Creo que he descubierto la que será una de mis sagas de fantasías favoritas. Sevenwaters es ya como un hogar al que me encantará volver.
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,090 followers
February 5, 2011
How do you know when a book is a great book?
- When the line between reality and fiction begins to blur, so that you could be sitting on a sunny balcony off a busy street, and still feel like you are in the cool, dark confines of the ancient Irish forests. When you are struck with sympathetic muteness because talking means the difference between life and death for the heroine, and it takes an actual, conscious effort to unlock your throat and answer when someone calls out to you. When you suddenly find that your usually limitless supply of words has run out altogether, and you can't find the words to describe how this book made you feel.

I am not going to talk about characterization, worldbuilding, plotline, or any of the things I usually talk about in my reviews. Although they were all brilliant. I am not going to gush about the romance between Sorcha and Hugh, although it is more than gush-worthy. What I am going to do, is tell you how this book affected me. Profoundly. Personally.

I have a weakness for Irish legends. I love the terrible beauty and darkness of the Fair Folk. I love the cadences of the story-telling, though it might seem long and tedious to some people. A lot of the story-telling in this book reminded me of the rhythm and style of Cecilia Dart-Thornton's Bitterbynde Trilogy. The fae of these stories are not the sexy, playful, almost-human faeries of the Urban Fantasy world. They are the real thing, powerful, removed and only concerned with humans as playthings, or pawns in the game of fate. And Marillier gets that.

A lot of people will find The Daughter of the Forest heavy going. The tone of the book is portentous and the style of writing is almost bardic. Things move slowly, but there is beauty in the slow pace.

This book resonated on a level I find difficult to explain. I cried when Sorcha cried, I hurt when she hurt, I shivered when she feared and I loved when she loved. It was almost as if I was absorbing her character, becoming her in one sense. And this is where truly great story-telling lies, in the ability to divorce you from reality, so that you can't think about whether you love or hate a character, because you are practically one entity. In the ability to transport you to another land, and make you love its people, until they feel like your people. In the ability to move you to the extent where words become impossible, even unnecessary because the silent places in your soul have come alive.

I think I would never be able to objectively recommend The Daughter of the Forest to anybody. The act of reading it was too personal, the story too close to my heart, to be able to judge with any accuracy whether it will be to someone else's taste. All I can do, in my measly way, is give it five stars, and hope this review resonates with someone out there someday!
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,476 reviews1,893 followers
March 30, 2020
Most people can't choose a favourite book; and rightly so. With so much choice, so much to love, it's akin to picking a favourite child (though we all know those exist.. I see you, parents). But if you asked me? I would say DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier. All of the original Sevenwaters books, actually, as it's really just one long story.

If I were telling this tale, and it were not my own, I would give it a neat, satisfying ending. [..] In such stories, there are no loose ends. There are no unraveled edges and crooked threads. [..] But this was my own story.

There is something so magical about slipping into a favourite, particularly one you haven't read in some time, and when the story itself is magical? The experience is so much more. This story is deeply moving. It's a story of family, of loss, of tragedy and violence, healing and love, sacrifice and hope, and magic and wonder. It's also one of the most perfect (in my opinion, obviously) portrayals of the complexity of dealing with the Fair Folk, who demand much of the mortals they encounter, who make bargains and promises, all in an effort to guide events and people to a desired end. No matter who gets hurt, or how, in the process.

This story isn't always easy. The road Sorcha walks is treacherous, the task she must complete to reunite her family is unimaginable, and she is young and alone. Until she isn't. At which point she's among her enemies, far from home, and still darkness dogs her steps. But it's her strength, her perseverance, even when faced with more tragedy, with uncertainty, even when tormented by her own doubt and despair, that is truly incredible.

Marillier's prose is enchanting, resonating with emotion, and gorgeously descriptive. There are characters to love, and characters to hate, and though I've read this story countless times (seriously, I couldn't even guess), I still dreaded certain events, I still wept; everything hit just as hard. And if that isn't a sign of a great book, I don't know what is. What made this particular reread even more special was being joined by a friend who experienced it all for the first time.

I have never tried to review this, all my reads predate the blog or my reviewing on GR, and I know I haven't done this book any justice at all. It's impossible to express my love for this book because it's honestly so deeply embedded in my soul. I read this as a young human and it's been with me, and I've relived it, over and over throughout the years, and we are irrevocably entwined. Some books you lose the love for other the years, as your taste or perspective or style as a reader changes. This book, this series, isn't one of those.

Would I recommend? Absolutely. This story has something for everyone. Particularly if you're a fan of fantasy, folklore, and retellings. Because this is all of that and more. And if you discover you don't like it? That's fine, we just can't be friends — kidding.



This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,336 reviews29 followers
July 24, 2015
3.5 stars. Wondrously evocative and lyrical. Enthralling. Suspenseful. Redundant. Too redundant.

This is a popular romantic fairy tale, found in the Young Adult and Juvenile shelves. Yet I question that classification, as there's a graphically adult scene (disturbing) as explained in spoiler further below.

Major spoilers are tagged and hidden:

Daughter of the Forest is an über-extended take on The Six Swans, set in medieval Ireland, when Druidic and Christian cultures first started to overlap.

Sorcha of Sevenwaters is about 16 years old when the story ENDS. She is deeply attached to her six older brothers, and they love her just as dearly, because they raised her from infancy, since their wealthy and titled father was gone a lot. (Their mother, a wise white witch, died giving birth to Sorcha.) When Sorcha is ~12 years old, her father remarries. Soon after, the six brothers are cursed, turned into swans, becoming human only during the solstice, once a year. To break the curse, Sorcha must painstakingly sew a shirt for each of her six brothers -- not from cloth, but from thistles that she must pick herself.

And she must not speak a single word, sewing six thorny shirts in silence within three years. It's the only way to break the curse. The tension! Sorcha, take care! Mustn't let one syllable slip!

For much of the story, from age 13 to 16 (12 to 15?), Sorcha is silently sewing. To make matters worse, she's mainly alone, driven from her home. In the spirit of a fairy tale, evil exists, and she is easy prey -- poor Sorcha!! In addition, she must overcome various obstacles and natural hazards. Eventually she meets Red (Lord Hugh), a sea-captain and titled landowner who gives what little help he is allowed by the terms of the curse.

Throughout the story, Sorcha is growing up, maturing into a young woman, learning her own strength and intelligence. Very nicely done! This adored youngest child and only daughter who was raised in nearly ideal conditions (thanks to her wonderful brothers) must strike out alone to repay the love they gave her. To save her brothers, she must endure one antagonist after another, persisting in her painful task.

My thoughts: First of all, wow! What an enthralling narrative! The story was often mesmerizing. Some scenes had me holding my breath in suspense. There was a constantly ticking clock in the back of my head as the allotted time elapsed and the shirts took shape. Would she finish in time? Despite her deadly antagonists?? And what a culminating scene! Nail biting.

The dialogue flowed. The narrative was vivid, with plenty of descriptive imagery and echoes of old Irish mythology and fae lore. I felt myself sinking into the magical, misty isles...

YA & romance classification: This is often classified as a romance, but it has very little romance in it, given that Sorcha Still, the romance is compelling; the author developed a credible and sigh-worthy relationship during the little time Sorcha and ____ were together (I'd guess < 20% of the 500+ pages). Moreover, I seriously question the YA classification. Not sure this is for adolescents or even teenagers, because .

Critiques: The comment (about sex) in that spoiler is the first of a few critiques, both major and minor. Another is that the story is redundant and dense. I kept reading...and reading. Some parts didn't seem worthy of all the pages, like the long time Sorcha spent with Also, too much repetition of Sorcha suffering as she sews: Her hands are swollen, her fingers disfigured, but still she toils on, never abandoning her labor of love. How many such scenes do we need? An editor could have deleted some scenes.

Also, after reading the entire long book the resolution is unclear. You have to read a sequel, but even the sequels don't tell us what happens to ALL the brothers and the evil witch. I felt cheated, because I grew to love those brothers and the sequels deal with the next generation. Plus, I did want to see the witch pay.

Quibbles aside, Daughter of the Forest is beautiful. Glad I read it. Recommended!
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews373 followers
January 12, 2012
What a breathtakingly beautiful book!

It’s hard to describe Daughter of the Forest. It is a fantasy, a historical, and a romance. It reads like a fable or a fairy tale. It has all the elements of a fairy tale – the evil stepmother, a fairy godmother (sort of), an enchantment, an impossible task to accomplish, a prince charming, and a happily ever after.

This has to be my all time favorite book now. I was captivated by the story, mesmerized by the voice of Sorcha, our heroine. I did not put this book down for days. I probably used up an entire box of Kleenex reading this and my kids looked at me quite strangely.

Sorcha is a very special young lady. She is the seventh child of a seventh son. Her mother died in childbirth. Her six older brothers care for her and they all share a special bond. Sorcha can communicate telepathically with two of her brothers. She is also well trained in healing. So much happens to Sorcha in this novel, but one thing remains in my mind – she is totally devoted to her brothers. Such love brings her much angst and suffering, yet she endures.

For most of the story, Sorcha endures an impossible task to free her brothers from an enchantment. Sorcha is not allowed to speak until the task has been completed. At one point she must leave her lands and is found by a Briton, Red. Red rescues Sorcha from nearly drowning and brings her back to his home.

I loved Sorcha’s character. So strong, so determined, and way too young to go through such an impossible task on her own. Imagine not speaking for three years, not being able to explain what you are doing, and this is Sorcha’s life. Despite her burden, Sorcha was also able to see the beauty in the world around her.

Red or Lord Hugh was a wonderful character as well. He was so patient and kind to Sorcha. Sorcha’s brothers are also very interesting characters. Conor and Finbar were my favorites.

A fairy tale would not be complete without the evil villains. In this book, there is the scary Lady Oonagh who reminded me of a Disney evil Stepmother. Absolutely scary. The power hungry creepy Uncle Richard made for a very nasty villainous character.

I think what makes this book so special is that the author is so gifted in her writing style. She gives a girl who is mute for most of the book a voice. We feel this girl’s love, devotion, and desperation. We feel all of this girl’s emotion. I also loved how the author included the Fair Folk in her story. They are never really in the main part of the book, they just happen to always be in the background. You are never really sure if they are responsible for a spell or not.

I highly recommend this book. Be prepared with a lot of Kleenex. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Review posted on Badass Book Reviews

Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,065 reviews1,472 followers
April 14, 2021
This is the first instalment in the Sevenwaters series.

Sorcha is the seventh child and first girl of her family. Her mother died not long after her birth and her distraught father left both his children and his home soon after. Now he deigns to visit them fleetingly and only has stern words to deliver his little daughter when he does. Sorcha does not feel the loss of the typical childhood she could have had, however. Not when she grows up with the wild woods to play in and six brothers to protect and guide her. These seven siblings share a close bond but this will soon be put to the test as dark forces encroach upon their wild haven.

This isn't my usual type of fantasy story: it is more rooted in historical fact, there were no scenes of heavy action, blood shed was kept to a minimum, and it initially only featured the briefest smattering of fantastical occurrences. I did, however, really enjoy my time with it, despite it being a far quieter story than those I usually gravitate towards.

At its heart, this featured a very close character study of protagonist, Sorcha. The reader was invited to watch her grow from wild and happy girl, to lonely and distraught teenager, and finally to the brave and brilliant young woman the novel closed with. I did find some small sections a little lengthy but, overall, I enjoyed my journey through these pages, at her side.

I was entirely unprepared for just how emotional a read this would become, though. A horrific occurrence transformed Sorcha, as well as the tone of the book, and I thought the scene in question brutally rendered yet sensitively managed. This marked a turning point in both the novel's direction as well as my investment in the story. I longed for Sorcha's peace and happiness as much as I painfully ached for any tragedy that befell her.

The romance that featured during the latter portions of this book was entirely swoon-worthy! It was slow to blossom and had my heart aching, in quite a different way, when the duo failed to discern their buried emotions and act upon them. When all seemed lost, they did just that and I adored witnessing their love become realised and Sorcha's happy ever after finally granted.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Juliet Marillier, and the publisher, Tor Books, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Angela.
194 reviews49 followers
February 29, 2008
I would not recommend it, especially to young adults. The story was beautifully woven and the writing is very engrossing, but there is graphic description of abuse that did not strengthen the book and was very unnecessary. It pretty much ruined the book for me.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,633 followers
August 21, 2015
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/01/30/b...

In the second half of 2014, I read Juliet Marillier for the first time. The book was Dreamer’s Pool and as soon as I closed the cover on the last page, I asked myself the question most readers ask themselves right after they finish an amazing read: Why have I waited so long to read this author? And inevitably, the next thought is: I must read more!

I know I say that a lot and I don’t always follow through, at least not right away. But something about Marillier’s writing struck me in a way that I knew I didn’t want to wait. So I decided to jump into her Sevenwaters trilogy, and not least because the first book Daughter of the Forest has been sitting in my to-read list for years – for shame! – and it’s time to remedy that.

The book introduces us to Sorcha, who should have been the seventh son of a seventh son, but she is loved no less for being a girl, the only daughter of Lord Colum in the kingdom of Sevenwaters. She grew up with her six doting older brothers, and the siblings could not have been closer despite their different personalities and walks of life. However, peace at Sevenwaters is shattered when their widower father is seduced into marriage by an evil enchantress. To stop the siblings from meddling, the witch curses them all, turning Sorcha’s brothers into swans. It’s up to Sorcha to lift the spell, but she has to undertake a long and difficult quest thrust upon her by the Fae to do so, all the while remaining silent until she completes it.

To those familiar with their fairy tales, this is of course a retelling of The Six Swans, one of the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm. It’s a pretty close adaptation, actually, though Marillier fleshes it out a lot more and sets her version in the medieval Celtic era. She does not stray too far from the source material, which ended up being perfect for someone like myself, who adores fairy tales but at times wishes someone to come along and give them the deeper, more detailed treatment. I was delighted to find the same sort of subtle vibe here that I experienced in Dreamer’s Pool, a heady mixture of magic and realism in a world where myths can come to life and yet remain grounded at the same time.

This is simply a gorgeous book, filled with pain and sadness but also hope, healing and love. There is a heavy element of romance in here, but it is so well embedded in the overall story that it hardly distracts, despite being so intensely passionate. It’s been a while since I found myself so moved by a relationship between two people. Daughter of the Forest, a fantasy novel at its heart, does a love story even better than some Romance novels out there, without even seeming to try.

There aren’t too many faults I can pick out here, other than some minor issues I had with the overprotectiveness of Sorcha’s brothers, especially towards the end. I think by then she has earned the right to speak for herself and tell her family what it is she wants, but she too remained meek and silent until things ended up resolving for her. But a gripe like this feels so minor when the rest of the novel was near-perfect, as well as in light of how much I loved the book overall.

Two books by Juliet Marillier under my belt, and now she is one of my favorite authors. This is a must read for her fans, new and old. I really can’t recommend this one highly enough, especially if you love fairy tales, mythology and legends.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,125 reviews230 followers
June 5, 2017
What a fabulous start to what I hope is going to be a 5 star series. One of my favorite books so far this year!
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books467 followers
February 6, 2022
“I see you in the light of the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night.”

Major spoilers and the discussion of an underage person being sexually assaulted follow.

So What’s It About?

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives: they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift—by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

What I Thought

Two years ago I read Heart’s Blood and it made me sob, then last year I read Dreamer’s Pool and it also made me sob, and now I’ve read Daughter of the Forest and…well, shockingly it left me a giant mess of emotions, crying away. Guys, I haven’t read a book where the main character faces such a nearly-incessant barrage of suffering since I finished Robin Hobb’s several series about FitzChivalry Farseer. Combine the constant onslaught of suffering with some Grade A Yearning in one of Marillier’s trademark swoony romances and you’ve got yourself an emotional sucker punch of a book.

I think the closest thing I’ve read to Daughter of the Forest would be Deerskin by Robin McKinley – both books are lush and beautiful and sorrowful, fairy tale-based and largely focused on the young protagonist’s recovery after her world is shattered by being raped. The romance plays a much bigger role in this book than Deerskin while in Deerskin the central relationship is between the protagonist and her dog, but I do think both are fairly excellent portrayals of survival through trauma. Sorcha is an incredibly strong character, and as I desperately wanted to see her be okay it was a joy to watch each little triumph as she started to heal, trust and save her brothers and herself over the course of the book. Her struggle is harrowing and well-written and you truly understand the extent of her devastation and fear, while a few aspects of her story particularly stand out to me. While there are symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks you really get to see how being raped has entirely altered the way that she fundamentally sees the world. Her cognitive distortions about men are particularly interesting to me, like the way she believes that Red is only good to her because the fae have compelled him to protect her.

As far as the actual rape scene itself goes, I’ll say that my initial response was that it was unnecessarily graphic. I posted asking about this on Goodreads and got some really interesting responses. What I realized is that everyone has a different line in the sand as far as what feels like too much for them…and while sexual assault is often used in an unnecessary and gratuitous way in fantasy stories, I don’t think it is necessarily gratuitous to show the horror of what it’s like in someone’s head while they are being raped if the point of the story is to explore the experience of sexual assault and its aftermath in a meaningful way. In my opinion Daughter of the Forest does this very effectively.

I will say, however, that it did seem to me that the consensual sex scene in the book isn't as explicit as the assault scene, and I wish this had been different. I am not necessarily saying “I want Juliet Marillier to write explicit sex scenes”… but I’m NOT not saying that, either. Like, I really really don’t need to know how big a rapist’s dick is, Juliet, but I would be 100% into knowing that about her wonderful love interest. We get to live in Sorcha’s head while she is being assaulted so why can’t we be in her head while she’s having a frankly excellent time of it? Instead it’s just like, Red checks for consent, I have a flashback and he comforts me, my body opens for him like a flower (shudder) and then… end of scene. Idk, this is definitely subjective and maybe I’m just being a sensitive weirdo, but it kind of feels strange to me.

It’s easy, in a story about rape and sexism, to write off men altogether, and I really appreciate Marillier’s approach of regularly showing them in their goodness and complexity as human beings too. I love Red with his gentle nature, his deep thoughtfulness and his dedication to Sorcha through all their trials. Marillier’s romances are really something else -they’re the perfect amount of fraught yearning and sweetness and emotional intelligence and kind but broken people coming together and supporting one another. The only Thing about this story is that Sorcha is sixteen at the end when she marries Red, while he’s in his early twenties. Okay, YES, it’s set in ancient times when the age of consent wasn’t a thing and she’s being historically accurate! I know that! I know and respect that others may feel differently but my take on this is that you kind of have to balance historical accuracy with the values of the present day reader and how they’re going to respond to the story. Again, it feels like a weird component of teenage Sorcha’s healing journey to fall in love with an adult man while everyone keeps talking about how young and tiny she is.

Richard is a despicable villain, and I almost wish there was something redeemable or nuanced about him because he is more or less entirely horrible, while I love the depth and complexity of Sorcha’s relationship with all of her brothers. It rings so true that they are so controlling and protective of her after she saves them and turns them back into humans, because they still see her as a child in their minds and they can’t truly understand how much she has grown and suffered to end their curse. It’s also remarkable that each of the six manages to have such a distinct voice and personality.

Daughter of the Forest is also beautifully-written and indescribably atmospheric. You truly feel transported to the ancient Irish forest and its magical, fae secrets; you truly feel the sorrow and suffering as well as the sweetness and joy. Every one of Marillier’s books that I’ve read has been evocative in this way, and I think she’s a true master of this kind of descriptive and emotional writing. The ending is also absolutely perfect in my opinion, as her brothers gradually depart to live the lives they were denied for so long. I wouldn’t say that this is a read for the faint heart, but it’s so very worth it. I’ll be building up my emotional reserves again, and I’ll be back to sobbing over another Juliet Marillier book soon enough.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,155 reviews311 followers
March 17, 2017
Amazing. If I wasn't sure before, this book solidifies Juliet Marillier as one of my very favourite authors.

The story of Sorcha and her trials as she works to free her six brothers from enchantment is painful and gut wrenching. While it doesn't all result in a traditional fairy tale ending, the story does deliver what feels right and more true to our own experiences. No one can live through what Sorcha and her brothers do without being irrevocably changed.

Marillier's writing is perfect as usual, and her characters are lifelike and filled with emotion. This book delivers both heartbreak and joy, and not in equal measure, but the joy is all the more satisfying for it having been so hard won.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,074 reviews23 followers
June 1, 2019
A beautiful gripping story but very hard to read.

This fairy tale for grown-ups tells the story of Sorcha, and her 6 elder brothers Finbar, Liam, Cormac, Conor, Padriac and Diarmid.

Born and brought up on the Irish stronghold of Sevenwaters, the siblings grew strong and proud and had a bright future ahead. Up until the evil stepmother came! A wicked sorceress who wed their father, took over his will and stronghold and turned the 6 brothers to swans to have them out of her way. It was left to their little sister Sorcha, merely 12 years old at the time but already a full-fledged healer, to find a way to bring her brothers back and save them from the curse.

John Jude Palencar Art; Cover of "Daughter of the Forest" by Juliet Marillier - Pinterest

This is her story. A story of sacrifice and courage in the face of horrible circumstances, a story of strength and endurance during hardships that would make even the strongest of men weep! And ultimately, a story of love: the love of a sister for her brothers and the love of a husband for his wife.

In the pages of this book you will read about sorrow:

Perhaps this was what the stories meant when they called somebody heartsick. Your heart and your stomach and your whole insides felt empty and hollow and aching.

as well as about pain and heartbreak. You will read about terrible things that a little girl has to go through and you may want to cry or curse or want to shoot or punch somebody. Because of the unfairness of it all! I have to admit I did.

The writing is beautiful and centers on emotions that are wonderfully explained up to the point that they may become your own. And they are not all bad! Quite the contrary! Some of them could even melt your heart and make you get all mushy inside.

He would have told her – he would have said, it matters not if you are here, or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light on the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are – you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.

There may have been a few inconsistencies or some things unexplained in the plot, but the rest of the story more than makes up for those. I will be definitely reading the rest of the series and I highly recommended it to all lovers of” romantasy”.

♡Meme♡Reads love♡'s Sorcha and Red
and I couldn't agree more! :)

Happy reading
Profile Image for Kaila.
741 reviews13 followers
January 4, 2020
RE-READ 2: January 2020

This book honestly speaks to my soul. It is one of, if not my favourite book of all time. Every time I read it, it reminds me of why I love to read. What a great way to start the year!

RE-READ: December 2017

5/5 stars

“You will find the way, daughter of the forest. Through grief and pain, through many trials, through betrayal and loss, your feet will walk a straight path.”

I cannot even begin to explain how much I love this book. It is definitely one of my all time favourite books, and may even take out that top spot. I remember absolutely adoring this book the first time I read it, but all the emotions have come rushing back to me this time. I am overwhelmed with how downright gorgeous this book is; the writing style is poetic, poignant and so very powerful. This author has dipped every word in bucket full of emotion, which hit me right in the heart. Daughter of the Forest is a captivating novel full of family, sacrifice and perseverance. I recommend this book whole heartedly for lovers of fantasy, or anyone that's just looking for a wonderful read.


It's impossible for me to try and summarise this story, I just can't do it. I feel like I'd destroy the pure complexity of this story, characters and the world by putting it into a box. I'm going to try my hardest to give a short overview, but trust me, this book is much better than anything I could possibly say.

Anyway, this book follows the family of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, who was the seventh son of a seventh son. He expected the same familial path, but instead, he had six sons and one youngest daughter. Young Sorcha grew up with her brothers and not like a lady should have. She was wild, a daughter of the forest and so often compare stories with the faerie folk. The connection that she had with her brothers ran deep, much like the connection she felt for her land. When tragedy strikes the heart of Sevenwaters and all of Sorchas brothers are put at risk, Sorcha must sacrifice herself in order to save her family. She is exiled from her home at Sevenwaters and must learn to live in the hands of her enemy, so far way from her home in the forest, It is in this journey that she experiences the most heartbreaking loss, but also love.

“She had sacrificed her childhood to save her brothers; she loved her family above all else, and her spirits yearned to return home once more, to the wild forest and the land of mystic tales and ancient spirits whence he had taken her. That was the place of her heart, and if he loved her, he must let her go.”

Me trying to get everyone to read this book:

Juliet Marillier's writing style is absolutely stunning. Her words flowed so perfectly and made every description seem beautiful. Through this writing, the various settings of the novel were painted so vividly and richly in my mind. I could see every tree, feel the wind against my legs and hear the sounds of the forest. This author is a masterful storyteller who made it so easy to fall into the world of her novel, and not emerge until well after the book has ended. The way the story flows seems almost graceful, an elegant sort of storytelling, if that makes sense. Every scene and moment flows so well with each other, making a flawlessly executed plot. On paper, the book seems quite slow and the major conflict only occurs after the one hundred page mark. Despite this, I was fully captivated and downright spellbound by the writing. The author made even the simplest of character interactions seem enthralling and emotion filled. This allowed me to be fully captivated by every moment of this story, and is probably why I'm still think about it now.

“All that he had of her was his memory, where he held every moment, every single moment that she had been his. That was all he had, to keep out the loneliness.”

I remember this book being highly emotional the first time I read it, but it's as if these emotions returned tenfold for this re-read. The are some truly upsetting and traumatising moments in this book, so if sexual abuse is a trigger point for you, I'd keep that in mind when reading this novel. I was on the verge of tears so many times reading this book, even in parts where I wasn't so sad the last time. We really get to know Sorcha deeply throughout this book, so the pain she feels is reflected in my own emotions. I felt fully connected to Sorcha and I'm pretty sure I act like a proud mother to her. She goes through so much but remains kind, strong, selfless and fully herself. She is one of my all time favourite heroines as she is a very good depiction of a strong female lead. I have such respect for her because I can't even imagine going through the trials that she did.

I don't want to be too repetitive in this review, as I'm keeping the thoughts that I initially shared during my first reading of the novel. So now I'll leave you with the opinions of past Kaila:

June 2016

One word: phenomenal. This was absolutely beautiful, definitely a top favourite read of this year. I tend to stay away from adult fantasy books, the worlds always kind of scare me and I find the writing often hard to get into. This was not the case with Daughter Of The Forest. The writing was so lyrical and the world was both magical and realistic, I couldn't help but be swept away by the story. I still can't describe how magical and mystical this book was. From the very first page I was whisked away into a world that I wish I was apart of, with characters that I wish I knew. Everything was just so detailed and well thought out, I couldn't have made this story any better if I tried.

The bulk of this story is about Sorcha and the task that she has to fulfil in order to save her brothers. This part really hit a cord with me because I have a brother myself and I still don't know whether I could have sacrificed as much as she did. She went through so much pain and suffering and yet the story wasn't overly melancholy. The perfect way to describe the story would be bittersweet, mostly bitter.

“The threads of many beliefs can run side by side; from time to time they tangle, and mesh into a stronger rope.”

The best part of this book would definitely be the characters and their relationships. The relationship that Sorcha had with her brothers was beautiful and well structured, I felt as if I was apart of the family just by reading the story. The love that Sorcha had for her family practically flowed from every word. Sorcha by herself is definitely a favourite female of character of mine. I found her so strong, loyal and humble; a truly admirable character. She grew so much in the novel and developed throughout the story to become someone quite inspirational.

I also loved the romance side of the book. The romance was subtle enough not to distract from the story but also predominant enough to form a beautiful bond between the two characters. I loved how gentle and caring Red was and although Sorcha couldn't speak at the time, I love how she was with him as well. Although the relationship was lovely, my favourite part about the romance would be the fact that Red couldn't solve all of Sorcha's problems. Often in romance books, the male lead will 'fix' the heroine and solve all of her problems, which is quite unrealistic. In Daughter Of The Forest, Red did not try to fix Sorcha but rather helped her through her journey.

Daughter Of The Forest is one of the most beautifully written books I've read to date. The writing flowed so well and each word oozed emotion and meaning. I can't wait to read more from Juliet Marillier (i.e. Every book of hers that I can find!!)

“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.”
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,323 reviews2,145 followers
March 10, 2015
I am a great lover of fantasy but I am discovering that I prefer my fantasy books to be original and not based on fairy tales. (One notable exception being Cinder and its sequels). Fairy tales are known for their cruelty and hardship and Daughter of the Forest is quite relentless in this respect. It may be that the book was just a bit too long and Sorcha's tedious task seemed to take forever. However I was uncomfortable with several of the scenes and wished they had not occurred. I won't be continuing with this series but I will look to see what else Juliet Marillier has written since everyone else seems to find her a five star author!
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