Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: February 2002 (originally April 1999)
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…
Sorcha is surrounded, protected, and loved by her six older brothers. She’s a talented healer for such a young lady, and thrives helping the sick and wounded or tending in her garden. But an evil woman, an enchantress, enters their household at Sevenwaters, and the children are cursed. Sorcha seeks help from the Fair Folk, and is set to accomplish a task alone and silent. But her task is disrupted when three Britons take her across the water to their land in Harrowfield. An outcast in enemy lands, Sorcha’s task is her only solace, and a deep bond forms between her and the master of Harrowfield. But with everything seeming to fall apart around her, Sorcha begins to wonder if her task served any purpose at all.
I ran until I was dizzy and breathless, until I reached the far end of the beach,
where the rocky headland rose from the white sand. There I leaned my back
against the stones and listened to my heart pounding and drew in breaths of
wild sea air. I had not realized, had not known how painful a burden had been
laid on me, until now, when for a single day I was free.
What lush, vivid, unhurried writing. This is storytelling at its finest. Marillier is brilliant and I bow to her. I read her Shadowfell trilogy and really enjoyed it, and this book was given to me by a friend. All I needed was a push with the #DOTFreadalong to reenter Marillier’s world and fall in love all over again. She takes her time to tell a story. We experience Sorcha’s journey in every minute detail — every joy and pain, happiness and sorrow. We feel it as if it’s our own. I loved each of her six brothers, all with varying talents and interests — and even their propensity to speak for her even though she can speak for herself — and I loved watching her change from a young girl with simple joys to a young woman with a lifetime of experience guiding her intuition and heart.
Another thing Marillier masters is creating different obstacles and side stories often enough to make it more life-like. They don’t feel like plot devices inserted here and there to keep the character on their toes. Every moment of happiness wasn’t suddenly jolted with terror or horror, or vice versa. The story unfolded slowly, a gradual rise and fall, building tension and release. Reading it was like breathing. With the occasional choked-back sob, of course.
But oh my GOD that scene, the test, Red’s test in Sevenwaters. That scene. I died. My heart broke and mended a million times over. There were so many of those scenes, both heart-pounding and gut-wrenching. I want to read these passages over and over and over and over.
See reviews of Shadowfell, Raven Flight, and Caller.