Friday, 18 May 2012
Review: Wildwood Dancing
Author: Juliet Marillier
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2007
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retellings
In Transylvania, an enchanted forest brings fear to the villagers in the nearby valley, who arm themselves with amulets and garlic as protection against the Night People and the witch of the forest, Draguta. Unknown to anyone, the five sisters of the castle Piscul Draculi travel into the Other Kingdom every full moon, where they spend the night dancing with the magical creatures in the other realm. When their father must leave to recover from his illness, things became difficult for the sisters. Jena is the second oldest and the practical one, but she is having difficulty coping with the many challenges sent her way. Her elder sister is drawn into a forbidden romance that seems to be doomed from the start. Her cousin wants to rid the forest of the magic and seek revenge against Draguta, who took his brother from him. With her best friend Gogu, a frog that can communicate only with her, Jena will have to protect her family, Piscul Draculi and the entire forest.
What an amazing book! I’ve been reading a lot of fairy tale retellings lately in order to write this list, and this book was by far the best in YA that I’ve read. While reading fairy tale retellings, a common problem I found was that the books dragged on and felt a bit boring at parts, even if they were creative and had great world building. Considering these novels are usually based on stories that were written in four or five pages, it makes sense for them to feel slow moving when adapted into a 300-page book. Wildwood Dancing didn’t have this problem at all. It was well paced and impossible to put down. This book is basically what every fairy tale retelling should be; it was a creative take on the original that added so much to the original story. Set in Transylvania, the author utilized Romanian folktales, including the Night People, which we would call vampires. Wildwood Dancing is actually a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but with so much more added to the story. Jena is the second oldest sister and the heroine of the story, and I loved her character. She’s the practical one who becomes head of the family, and she felt like a fully-fledged person, which doesn’t always happen in retellings of fairy tales. I do wish we got to know her four sisters better, but I thought Cezar was a villain who could be so frustrating but I pitied him at the same time. The prose was beautiful and made me wonder why I’d never heard of Juliet Marillier before now. The plot was well planned out, with unexpected twists that took me by surprise. Wildwood Dancing introduces a magical world that is enchanting and easy to submerge yourself in. As a fairy tale reimagined, this book really has it all. With adventure, a magical world, forbidden romance, dancing sisters, vampires and a magical frog, Wildwood Dancing is a book that can keep you up all night, whether it’s a full moon or not.
“If a man has to say trust me it's a sure sign you cannot. Trust him, that is. Trust is a thing you do without words.”