…on Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Posted August 29, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 24 Comments

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Series: Sevenwaters #1
Book Published by Tor Books
Publish Date: May 5, 2000
400 Pages
Source:  Library

Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac.

But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift.

To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known, and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss, and terror.

When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for her to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the life she has always known and a love that comes only once.(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

My Thoughts:  I’ve seen Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier around the bloggy world lotsa times. Some of my most trusted reading friends have recommended it and almost pushed it, which I love. When Lauren at Love is not a triangle decided to read it after we both read an amazing review on Heidi’s blog, I grabbed a copy from my local library too. There’s nothing like reading and discussing with friends, you guys! 

The first thing you need to know is this:
In case anyone forgot, I LOVE FANTASY. 
If you want to see me fangirl over a book quickly, hand me a fantasy book. I read to escape, and the best way for me to escape is with a fantasy book. Daughter of the Forest has the basic components of fantasy that I love – complete with Fair Folk, which are the fairies of the forest. There are daggers and weapons, there is good vs. evil, and there is some magic. There is a quest, or in this case, a task – and it was super difficult this time! Oh! and the characters are just incredible.

What makes the fantasy genre a bonus for me is that several of my reading friends also love love love fantasy. So if I choose one of these books to read, chances are I’ll have someone to talk, gush, rave, or CAPSLOCK with over how incredible it probably is. This is really the best part of reading in general with any genre, but fantasy tends to bring out the very best in some of us.

(Sidenote: sometimes really good contemporaries do the same thing.)

The second thing you need to know is this:

  This book is a fairy-tale re-telling. Double-win for me! 

Daughter of the Forest is a re-telling of the famous Brothers Grimm fairy-tale The Six Swans, which I have always loved. I have distinct memories of reading Grimm’s fairy-tales, loving this story, and staring at the illustrations in my book. (I also had a book by Hans Christian Anderson with a story included called The Wild SwansDaughter of the Forest is similar to this story, but I personally think it is a more accurate re-telling of The Six Swans by The Brothers Grimm.) At any rate, I love both stories and read them over and over as a child.

Juliet Marillier is amazing in that she stays pretty true to the story of The Six Swans without veering out too far, yet Daughter of the Forest still has its own distinct voice. It’s obvious to me that the story is being re-told, but it isn’t being ‘ripped-off.’ I absolutely loved it. This particular fairy-tale is one of my favorites by The Brothers Grimm and it was so comforting to me to read something that had a twinge of familiarity and was reminiscent of my childhood.

The third thing you need to know is this:

 These characters are all AMAZING.
But Sorcha is an incredibly strong and awesome female lead. 

Daughter of the Forest has a lot of characters, each with their own unique personality and voice. Despite the large number, I never felt like I was confused about who was who, even when reading about Sorcha’s six older brothers. Juliet Marillier paid particular attention to give each of her characters – both primary and secondary – defining characteristics that made them stand out from one another. I love that I felt like they were real people. I was emotional over several things that happened to several of them at different times. I love it when an author makes me identify and connect with the entire cast of the book – the good guys and the bad guys. I didn’t necessarily like each character, but I think they are all well-written.  

Sorcha – Sorcha is the one that stole the show, in my opinion. When her brothers fell victim to a spell that made turned them into swans, Sorcha was the only person that could break the spell and set them free. She could only do this, however, if she remained entirely and completely mute for the duration of the task, and the task took her a long time. And it was extremely difficult! During her time of silence, Sorcha was accused of a plethora of untruths – some quite condemning, embarrassing, and life-threatening – and she managed to keep her head high. She was attacked physically, verbally, and emotionally – still she toiled on. Sorcha maintained that no matter what, she and her brothers were a group of seven – a family – and they would remain that way. She was written with such a strong spirit and sense of character, and yet sometimes she was the not-yet-matured adolescent-turned-teenager that supported her young age.

Sorcha’s story is amazing. It’s filled with hard work, with hope, with despair and heartache, with pain, and with happiness. Sorcha made me feel nearly every emotion while I was reading Daughter of the Forest. She did have a weakness, though, and it was that she allowed herself to FEEL THINGS for someone while she was working to save her brothers. As she felt things, so did I, and I knew that as Sorcha would eventually have to choose her brothers or the man she loves, my heart could potentially be broken. Is there ever really a winner when you have to make a choice like that?


Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is a beautiful fantasy story that doubles as a fairy-tale re-telling, which made my heart pitter-patter all the way throughout, albeit for different reasons from chapter to chapter. The emotions I felt while reading this book were big and intense, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There is such joy and such pain sometimes in reading big epic high fantasy stories, and such was my experience with this book. I loved every second of it.

While I loved the setting so much and could visualize it in a very sensory way – sounds, smells, the way everything looked – and I loved the lore that Marillier weaved into the Fair Folk and the belief system of the people of these regions, I have to admit that the characters and their interactions and relationships were my favorite part of the story. I loved Sorcha intensely, and that love fanned out to each of her brothers equally. Such care was given to creating seven siblings that were believably so entwined and close-knit that they would truly do anything for one another – even work hard, painful laborous tasks in complete silence for years in order to break an evil spell set by an evil woman. The relationship between Sorcha and her brothers was everything wonderful that you can imagine.

There was so much more to this story than just Sorcha’s relationships with her brothers. Sorcha had a romance that was wonderful and I loved it so much. She had great friendships that were wonderful and emotional and I loved them too. She had hard times with cruel villains that I despised, and this is a classic part of reading fantasy. There was also so much ‘real life’ in Daughter of the Forest – little pieces of life lessons thrown in here or there. Sometimes they were obviously written in and sometimes you had to think awhile before you grasped what those lessons were, but there was so much in this book that rings true to life – families sometimes change, sometimes people you love leave you, friends come and go, you do what you have to do to survive – things like that. This book is full of everything.

The end of the book has some good resolution and I’m completely satisfied to sit on it for awhile before I start book two. I love it when I LOVE the end of a book SO MUCH and just want to bask in it for awhile before I hop right into the next section of the story. While the ending is a good, clean one without cliffhangers, there are still questions that are unanswered – which are always good starting points for the next book in the series or companion set. I’m honestly really excited to start it, but it’ll be a little while. I’m just loving the time I’m spending thinking back on the details of Daughter of the Forest. I recommend this book wholeheartedly to fans of fantasy, period.

**My words are not fitting for this book. There are others who have written far more convincing and appropriate reviews: 

Daughter of the Forest will appeal to fans of:

High/Epic Fantasy & Historical
 Fairy-Tale Re-Tellings!
Amazing Female Leading Character 
Great Storytelling – Coming-of-Age, Travels, Romance, Heartache
Great Settings 
Romance – slowly developing, no triangle
Good vs. Evil
A quest/task! 

Award-Winning Books – ALA Alex Award 2001
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
is currently available for purchase.


What are your favorite types of books to discuss
with reading friends?


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


24 responses to “…on Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

  1. Yay!! Glad you loved it!! I just ADORE this book and love Juliet Marillier! The next book, Son of the Shadows, is fantastic. It's actually super hard for me to decide which of those two books I love more. I adore Sorcha and love her story but the characters in Son of the Shadows (especially Liadan) are amazing!

    • Oh my goodness. Words CANNOT express. I literally read one chapter at a time, just soaking it in. I've heard Son of the Shadows is even better than Daughter of the Forest, although I can't imagine it!

      This is another of those times in fantasy books where I'm like WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ AND LOVE THIS???

  2. Wow Asheley, how is it possible that I've never heard of this book before? I LOVE fairy tale-retellings, especially ones that feature strong female leads, so I can't wait to give this book a try! Usually fantasy is not a genre I tackle, but it's been growing on me lately and I've been craving more of it. How fortunate that you posted this review, it's like you read my mind:)

    • Oh Jenny, you know how you love certain books so much you want to hug them? Well this book just swept me up and hugged ME.

      I just feel so many warm, fuzzy feelings after I read it. It's just as good as everyone told me it is and more. I highly recommend it!

    • Fantasy forever. As the person that loves to read to escape, fantasy and urban fantasy are just the best ways that I can find to do that. Big fantasy books like that one and some other more epic-fantasy stories are some of the best, the ones that I read super-slow and love extra-hard. I've been geeking out over it since I finished it and I'm still having all the feelings in my chest I had while I was reading. So good, so much love!

  3. You've made me SO EXCITED to check this book out. I've yet to read it but the fact that it's fantasy/fairytale retelling makes me feel like I should!

    • Yes, Alexa! The fact that it is a re-telling makes it extra-special to me because I tend to love those so much – and this particular story is one of my favorites from when I was WAY younger. I have super distinct memories of reading it when I was a child and I won't forget this first reading of Daughter of the Forest either. Highly recommend!

  4. You make me want to re-read this! It's a WONDERFUL book!

    I agree with other commenters that the second book is also fabulous; to me, the third wasn't quite as strong. But hopefully you will love them all. And they all do stand alone well.

    • It IS a wonderful book! I'm SO GLAD I read it. I just loved it so much!

      I totally believe everyone when they tell me the second book is better but it is SO HARD for me to see that, having just finished Daughter of the Forest and loving it SO MUCH. But honestly, every single person that I've talked to about this series agrees! If the second is better, I can't imagine how much I'll love it. And since they're companions, I don't mind sitting on this incredible story with its great ending for awhile before I head into the next installment. THAT is my favorite way to do high/epic fantasy.

  5. Oh my god. This is one of my favorite books EVER. EVER EVER EVER.

    I am so beyond psyched that you have finally read it. 🙂

    Didn't you just fall in love with Sorcha and her family?

    AND OH MAN THE WRITING. It's so gorgeous and just kind of envelopes you. I can feel the need for a re-read coming on, ha ha.

    You should also read Wildwood Dancing, it's her retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

  6. Ems

    I'm just about to start Shadowfell. It'll be my first experience with Juliet Marillier, though now I'm convinced that it definitely won't be my last. I'm putting this on my list! Great review. You've sold me!

    • I've read some great things about Shadowfell and I definitely want to read that one too. I just can't believe how much I loved this one. I knew I'd love it because I trust everyone that has encouraged me to try it, but WOW I had no idea I'd fall so hard for this incredibly strong main character and her family, and for the story in general. I need to buy a copy for myself so I can re-read it over and over. It feels like it might become a comfort book for me, if that makes any sense. 🙂

  7. *Happy sigh*. I really just want to hug you right now. I KNEW that you would feel this way about this book, and I'm seriously so so happy that I could help spur you on to reading it. There are really no words to describe it's beauty, and I found it really hard to talk about myself. Sorcha is without a doubt one of my all time favorite characters, partially because of her strong bond with her brothers. That kind of familial love is something rare, and wonderful, and they all knew it and worked so hard to hold on to it.

    Also I've totally read the part at the end with the blindfold over and over I love it so much. Talk about swoon. (And yeah, reading this book about a healer girl and a red headed man just before reading Outlander may have had a teensy bit to do with my utter disappointment in Claire and Jamie.)

    I sat on this book for 3 months before I decided I was ready for the next one. I love taking these books in slowly and savoring them–they so deserve it. So happy you loved this!!

    • Taking these big lovely chunky books in slowly and savoring them, that is the ONLY way I can do it! I can't imagine flying through them! I understand some people do, but do you have any idea how many times I've thought about what all of these characters are doing right now, and I've thought about that ending over and over, and I just want to SIT IN IT for awhile. Just like I'm still sitting in The Name of the Wind. I can't go wasting all of this love that I'm feeling!!

      That ending. I just didn't expect it. I had all ideas it would end differently and I would feel *okay* with the story and still love it, but the particular way it DID end made me want to do flips and throw a party. It was BEYOND what I expected.

  8. What a lovely review. I always feel like I have a lot more to say about a book when it moved me. I love what you said about Sorcha's strength and acknowledging her youth too. I think that made some of the things she faced hit her really hard. And the characters are definitely what made this story magnificent. I'm always afraid when there are lots of siblings that the author will brush over some of them. But she didn't at all. I loved every one of them individually. And I could sense how much they loved each other.

    I did the SAME thing as you did about the end. I started preparing myself for a big self sacrifice. And I was thinking – how much more can this poor girl give? But I was blown away by how sweet it was.

    I'm going to reply to your email now. Get ready for it.

  9. I adore Daughter of the Forest! I read it when as the first three books in the series came out, all those years ago. It's such a beautifully told book and definitely one of my favorite fairy-tale retellings ever. Wonderful review! You hit basically all the best parts of this book on the head here. I hope that more and more people continue to read this book.

    I read this and the second and third books back when this is a trilogy (I'm still kind of in denial that Marillier continued the series, even though I'm sure books 4, 5, and 6 are also great). I will say, however, that I found the first book to be the best out of the first three books, and I believe it's the only one directly connected to a fairy tale.

    • I am definitely late to arrive on this one but I love that more and more people are telling me how much the love it because I feel like I'm joining a club of fans!

      I could stop with the series and be blissfully happy. Seriously, I could. I loved Daughter of the Forest THAT MUCH. BUT…everyone says they just love the rest of the books, so I suppose I'll keep going…eventually. I want to savor this one awhile. Days after finishing, I still feel like I've just closed the book. I'm IN LOVE with the story.

  10. You are so right! There is nothing like talking books with friends. Ashley, you have totally sold me on this. especially what you have had to say about the characters. I love fantasy anyway, but this just sounds awesome. I am going now to see if my library has it, or if I need to buy:)

    • I used my library for it, but I'd love to get a copy for myself sometime soon because I can totally see myself re-reading this in the future at least once. I just can't tell you how GOOD this book is. I loved it so much.

  11. I've had this book for ages and I STILL haven't managed to read it although I just added it to my blogging schedule for November-I have so many other review books that the ones I own inevitably get pushed to the back.

    • YAY for adding it to your schedule! I can't wait to see what you think of it. I loved it so much, so very much!

      And I'm the same way…books I own get pushed aside oftentimes. I have to actually pencil them into my calendar (library books too) if I really want to read them soon! I break my own heart!

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