I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.
But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.
When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...
I read this book to fill the Grimm Tale square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.
To understand how much I love this novel, I must tell you how much I loved a Classics Illustrated version of The Wild Swans that I had as a child. It was one of the first things that I ever read all by myself and I read that comic book until it was tattered. This book is a retelling of that Hans Christian Andersen tale, which he probably heard as The Six Swans through the Brothers Grimm.
This version sets the story back into a pagan Irish setting, another thing that I absolutely adore. I’m a firm lover of the Fae, who seem to be behind most of the action in this version. I’m also enthusiastic about the details that Ms. Marillier has added to the tale. In the Andersen version, the brother left with a swan’s wing at the end is eventually fully restored to humanity, but Finbar in this version is left longing for his swan mate, since swans mate for life. I think the poignancy of the story is also improved by the modern realization that a person couldn’t spend years as a swan without having significant emotional issues.
I’m not sure how many New Zealand authors that I’ve actually read, but if Juliet Marillier is any indication of the talent available in that country, I will be seeking out more. It’s hard to divide the charm of the story from the quality of the writing—both are top notch in this book. This is yet another example of young adult literature providing excellence that I can fully appreciate.