Daughter of the forest cover image

In a nutshell

  • Genre: Fantasy, Folklore Retold, Adventure, Romance
  • Notes: One of those books that reminds you why reading is so much more engaging than tv or movies.
  • Recommended for: Fantasy lovers, fans of The Mists of Avalon and similar female-centric fantasy novels.

A beautiful book written for those who love giving themselves over to a story . . . I remember when I first picked up this novel. I had just finished The Mists of Avalon and I had loved how that story was told, but I wanted a book that felt closer to one heroine instead of several. My friend recommended I pick this one up and I did.

Now, I picked it up when I had just started college and there is a little bit of exposition that I found tedious as I was extremely busy at the time. So after about 50 pages I put the book down and forgot about it.

Then around winter break I found it right where I had left it and picked it up again – and then I couldn’t put it down.

Before I get ahead of myself let me show you the review:

A beautiful retelling of the Celtic “Swans” myth, Daughter of the Forest is a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love… 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 Sorcha to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and sorcha will have to choose between the live she has always known and a love that comes only once. –Barnes & Noble.com

Ok – beyond the fact that after reading that overview and realizing that B&N does not spellcheck their writing – eh hem – we can move on to business.

Yes, DotF is a retelling of the celtic legend of the Six Swans which is about an only daughter who loses her 6 brothers when they are turned into swans. In DotF, the story opens as Sorcha, our heroine and the youngest sibling to 6 elder brothers and daughter to a hard, distant, and somewhat cold father, is faced with many changes in a very short time. Right off the bat, Marillier gets you with her exquisite narrative. The story is told from Sorcha’s perspective and you can see her go from naive, innocent child to jaded yet wise young woman.

A completely unique part of this story is the fact that in order to get her brothers back, Sorcha must not speak or mutter any noise until she finishes a designated task. This makes her inner narrative so rich and full and makes her perspective about how people interact with her very intriguing. Before this book I had never read a story where the main character could not speak, but what and how she is able to communicate is a point that drives the story.

An aspect I want to clarify about this review is that while I did say this is a romance, and I do believe it is, it is much more of a coming of age story. The story centers around Sorcha and the trials she has to face and overcome in order to save her brothers. I also would like to warn that there are some pretty dark aspects of this story – it is not a young adult novel.

As for what I think could be improved . . . well I don’t know if this would improve the story but I would wish for some more insight into the character Red. Sorcha has such a difficult time reading him, that I sometimes lost his motivations. Now, that being said, I think the whole point is that Sorcha having trouble reading him is a key aspect of her character so I don’t know if it would improve anything.

But truly this story has it all for fantasy lovers: adventure, magic, mystery, witch hunts, suspense, suspicion, intrigue, and murder. It’s definitely one to be enjoyed in a comfy chair with a cup of tea on a long quiet day. Get lost in the beginning of the wonderful world of Sevenwaters . . . you can thank me later.

Rating: ★★★★★