My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 23rd 2007
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairytale Retellings, Twelve Dancing Princesses, True Love, Magical Creatures, Hidden World, Sisterhood
High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.
What an enchanting story.
The kind that makes your eyes sparkle with wonder.
Juliet Marillier is a fine new discovery of an author for me. Her writing is tremendously elegant, soft to the ear, and flowing like a gentle but unwavering wave. It will catch your attention but also manage into holding it. Juliet Marillier is talented, without doubt.
Fairy tale retellings sweep me off my feet. I love princesses, knights, otherworldly creatures, prophecies, curses, witches, seeing true love bloom… and everything else this genre has to offer! Wildwood Dancing is beautiful and truly magical. It isn’t without flaws, and I will get to that, but reading it means hearing the witch cackle, feel the sisters’ love for one another in the air and your heart twist in knots to what is unfair. A delight to the senses!
The villain in the story, going by the name of Cezar, is what makes this book four-star-worthy instead of five, mainly. Being an antagonist, we can comprehend his being nasty, foul and manipulative, but is it really necessary for us to be exposed to him so much? I am the kind who enjoys villainous characters, for the contrast it brings to the atmosphere, but a character that destroys others’ spirits and hopes is not welcome in every chapter. I grew tired of him.
Jena is a magnificently strong, adventurous and courageous lead heroine. She and her sisters’ lives are prone to change when the Night People start roaming about the Other Kingdom and one of their own falls in love with one of those dark beings. I do admit that we do not get as much of the other sisters as we do about Jena and Tatiana, but that is mostly because they are too young to have their own world-shattering conflicts, and that’s for the best. Too much drama is never welcome. Also, there is a companion novel with as lead one of the young sisters, to make up for it, I like to think.
I am more than glad I gave this sadly-under-the-radar book a chance.
Here’s hoping you will, too.
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