Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Although Wildwood Dancing, by Juliet Marillier, is mainly for young adult readers, it is by far one of the most captivating stories I've read in a long time.

Taking place in a remote part of Romania, the tale weaves between full moon escapades that cross the Bright Between from daily life to the Dancing Glade in the Other Kingdom, and back to bleak living conditions at Piscul Dracului, where the wicked Cezar tries to rule.

"Five adventurous sisters, four dark creatures, three magical gifts, two forbidden lovers, and one enchanted frog, cross the threshold into the Wildwood, and enter a land of magic, daring, betrayal . . . and true love."

Jenica, the second oldest sister, is narrator, and I felt immediate empathy for her traumatic situation through skillful writing that drew me in both visually and emotionally. Jenica (sometimes called Jena) has an intelligent and curious frog, Gogu, for best friend, and he communicates with her by speaking to her mind.

The sisters' father is dying and sent away to recuperate, leaving the way open for cousin Cezar to begin taking over the ancient castle for his own. His brother, Costi, was drowned in the eerie Deadwash as a child, and Cezar never got over the shock. Neither did he recover from something else infinitely more sinister.

Juliet Marillier was born in New Zealand, and now lives in Australia. She has won awards for fantasy novels for both adult and young adult readers. I highly recommend her Wildwood Dancing as a book young readers will not want to close.

It is a delight to find something so beautifully described as the Other Kingdom. A clean and tender read for all.


Emily said...

This was one of the best books I read in 2007. So fascinating.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I loved this book and rated it my #1 read of the year -- it won out over a hundred and fifty other books.