Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review: Daughter of the Forest

Daughter of the Forest
(Sevenwaters #1)
Published By: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication Date:  May 5, 2000
Page Count: 400
Source:  Book Purchased by Reviewer
  Audience:  Adult - Fantasy 

One of my really good friends can attest to the fact that it has been a long time in coming for me to finally read Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.  It was on her recommendation that I add this novel to my large pile of books to read quite some time ago and there it sat for much too long in hindsight.  This isn't going to be one of my more wordy reviews, because there is just too much to comment on, and this story must really be experienced without too much prior information in order to fully appreciate its grandness.   But I DO have to highlight what I loved in order for you to want to read it yourself!

Juliet Marillier's writing is magical, although I will admit that it took me some time to get used to it at first.  But once I fell into the story, there was no turning back.  Set in a time very long ago, where the Fair Folk were somewhat more than mythical, we follow a story that is loosely based on an old celtic legend, as I understand it.  Sorcha, the only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is the seventh child of a seventh son.  It was believed that the seventh son born of a seventh son was thought to be magical and powerful in his own right, but Sorcha's birth proved just how unique and powerful one can be against all odds, and how those attributes could be used to the benefit of the Fair Folk in their greater manipulative games played throughout time.

The story begins with Sorcha and her brothers enjoying a relatively carefree life.  Their mother died immediately following the birth of Sorcha, leaving their father cold and distant towards them and fully immersed in strategic war games, which inevitably influenced the siblings incredible closeness.  The siblings (especially Sorcha) have a mystical connection to the forest surrounding their home, which was really a source of comfort for them and vice-versa.  Sorcha's brothers were very protective of their only sister and it was really quite remarkable to witness the love they had for each other, and forms part of the foundation of this story.  Each brother of Sorcha's had a specific gift that set him apart from the other, and I loved each and every one of them, and of course, their bond with their sister was what endeared them to me the most. 

I really appreciated how Daughter of the Forest was a narration of Sorcha's past told by Sorcha herself. This telling was really a testament to the love she had for her brothers that set her on a path to rescue them following the infiltration of a manipulative and evil sorceress into the family fold and the curse she exacted on the brothers soon after her arrival. 

There are really no adequate words to describe the protagonist 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.  Parts of her journey were difficult to read, I must admit, but I felt the details were absolutely necessary to fully empathize with her and the other major characters and all they had to face.  Sorcha and her brothers, and some other key characters, had to overcome so much, I truly worried if there would be a 'happily ever after' for any of them.

The forbidden love story that developed left me swooning to no end once it was realized, and it was so much more than just an epic helped to soften an ongoing war between the Britons and the people of Erin and begin to get past years of built-up hatred.  And the evil ones made me feel like I wanted them to experience far worse than anything Sorcha had to go through.   

Throughout this story, many old tales were told that had very significant bearings on the events throughout Sorcha's life...a story within a story that could prove to be a legend within itself came full circle in the end, with much more stories from these incredible siblings left to tell.    But I have to NOT wait as long as I did to read the first book in what is proving to me to be the beginning of an overall EPIC story.

Note:  As I mentioned above, there are some difficult parts to get through during Sorcha's story, one of which is a very mature and violent scene, and so in that light, I would not recommend this story for young readers.


Juliet Marillier is a rare talent, a writer who can imbue her characters and her story with such warmth, such heart, that no reader can come away from her work untouched. Daughter of the Forest is a testimony to that talent, a first novel and the beginning of a trilogy like no other: a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love.

Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac.

But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift.

To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known, and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss, and terror.

When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for her to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the life she has always known and a love that comes only once.


  1. Thank you for your review! I read this book back when I was in high school. I only remember bits and pieces of it. I also remember that I really liked this book. I didn't know this book was part of a series.

    1. Alyn, I think these books are the best kept secret in fantasy. Yes! There are 5 more books (the 5th one coming out next month)!! Son of the Shadows is book 2 and I'll be reading it very soon! Can't wait to get to it!! I hope you get back to this series! Thanks for stopping by the nest, too!

  2. I am intrigued! This sounds like a great high fantasy. I always love a story that heavily focuses on sibling relationships. Thanks for your review! *toddles off to Goodreads*

    1. Randi M....this would be right up your alley then! It's really a beautiful story...especially the relationships between the siblings.

  3. Your review makes me want to go back and re-read this series. I absolutely love Marillier's writing! I wish there were more books like this, beautifully written high fantasy rich with magic and intricate character relationships that feel genuine. Wonderful review!

    1. Hey Donna! Thanks for your comments!! :) Marillier's writing really IS quite wonderful! Did you know the last book in the Sevenwaters series comes out in early November?

      If you're looking for another amazingly written high-fantasy series...I highly recommend the Tairen Soul books by C.L. Wilson. They are the best kept secret, imo, because the covers sort of suck. My reviews for them are in the After Dark section here on Reading Lark!


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