Wildwood Dancing – by Juliet Marillier
I’ve meaning to read some of Juliet Marillier’s work for a while now, and I’m so glad I finally did. This is a lovely book, hard to put down and utterly satisfying. It’s based on the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and steeped in Transylvanian culture, and it has made it very difficult for me to devote any attention to the other books I’ve been attempting to read simultaneously.
For years, Jena and her sisters have been traveling to the Other Kingdom on the night of every full moon, to dance with the fairies and other folk of the wildwood. They have a strict set of rules to keep themselves safe during their visits, but danger is surrounding them on all sides now, in spite of their careful precautions. When their father’s health declines and he travels south for the winter to recover, their cousin Cezar begins taking over responsibilities, and Jena becomes more and more disturbed by his threats to tear down the wildwood. Meanwhile, the Night People have arrived in the Other Kingdom and Jena is sure they cannot be trusted. When her older sister Tatiana falls in love with one of their company, Jena’s fears grow even further, and it’s up to her to solve all of these problems, with the help of only her friend and trusted companion, an enchanted frog named Gogu.
I do love fairy tale adaptations, especially the creative, unique variety, so this was right up my alley. Plus, the writing is very well done, and the exposition at the beginning never felt forced or awkward (a sure sign of quality writing, in my opinion). I wasn’t terribly interested in Tatiana’s world-consuming romance, but I can see younger readers and fans of Twilight finding it very romantic. Jena’s romance, on the other hand, I found much more intriguing and satisfying. I’m excited to read the sequel and to check out some of Marillier’s other books in the future.