The Compulsive Reader: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Deep within the shadowed and mysterious forests of Transylvania live five sisters; Tati, Jena, Iulia, Paula, and Stela. Each Full Moon the sisters slip through a secret portal into the Other World, where they dance the night away with the place's peculiar but inviting inhabitants. But back in their own world, the sisters' quiet lives are thrown wildly off course as their sickly merchant father leaves for warmer climates during the fierce and bitter Transylvanian winter. Jena is left in charge of the business until he returns. But their cousin Cezar is dubious at Jena's abilities, and begins to strip her of her responsibilities, until the sisters are prisoners in their own home.

And to make matters worst, Tati has fallen in love with a mysterious and dangerous man, one who is in the company of the feared Night people, whose strengths are unknown and must drink blood to survive. Tati insists that he is harmless, but Jena is not so easily convinced, and must take it upon herself to right the circumstances and keep their family together throughout the long winter.

This updated and completely unique take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses will leave you breathless. While not quite as dark as her Sevenwaters Trilogy, Wildwood Dancing holds in its pages wonderfully despicable villains, amazingly strong and motivating heroines, eerie settings, and dark deeds that will make you gasp. Cesar's takeover of the Jena's responsibilities will cause righteous indignation, and her struggles against both her worldly foes and her magical ones are completely engrossing, with new revelations and twists every which way. What makes this novel especially poignant is Jena's eventual realization that she can't protect every person she loves from the outside world, and sometimes you just have let them face the dangers of the realms on their own. Both worlds are beautifully depicted and detailed, and the plot itself is an exciting froth of greed, betrayals, dark secrets, strength, courage, and true love that will surprise and enchant readers.

You might also enjoy Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn.

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