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The Six Swans November 4, 2007

Posted by sensawunda in Books.
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I do tend to gravitate toward novels based on fairy tales. Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, is one of the better of that subgenre. It’s based on the folk tale “The Six Swans.”

The appropriate key moments have a true Grimm Brothers feel to them. The passages that have a more contemporary-fantasy feel to them don’t detract from that—the bardic voice holds for the most part.

The flaws were few but glaring. The slow beginning almost lost me; the protagonist was impossibly precocious; and the villains were over the top.

Still, once I slogged through that beginning and got into the meat of the story, it became less and less put-downable. I liked that it didn’t mess with the underlying fairy tale too much—it only expanded upon it. I’ve read other novels based on fairy tales that got all pop-psych with the supposed Freudian meaning of the fairy tale. Bleah.

I also liked that even though Marillier sets this in Ireland at a time when Christianity had only a toehold there, and the protagonist is a follower of the “old ways,” she doesn’t bash Christianity. In fact, the most prominent Christian character is a friend and helper.

Daughter of the Forest is book 1 of a trilogy, but it feels complete enough in itself that I just might veer off to some other book in my TBR stack rather than feeling compelled to dive straight into book 2. I like that. There’s enough to pique my interest (hm! wonder who the “Son of the Shadows” might be?) without having to have a blatant cliffhanger.

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Comments»

1. superfastreader - November 4, 2007

I’m tossing my hair and stamping my foot in agreement with your “impossibly precocious” comment.

I liked the third book in the series the best… but there’s no reason to rush out & read them right away.

2. sensawunda - November 5, 2007

LOL! I dunno how it got past the editor that somehow a 5-year-old is a skilled and experienced herbalist… without the slightest hint of a mentor. I kept trying to figure out if I’d missed 30 years somewhere.


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