Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

         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.
         When Cezar's grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can't imagine--tests of trust, strength, and true love.

       I can't believe I've never read this before! I have a small disclaimer to very quickly make: I finished this book at 1:00 a.m. and books tend to seem better then than they really are, but then again, I stayed up till one reading it.
       Jena's matter-of-fact character was a breath of fresh air. She wasn't snarky, comical, or angsty. She was just nice. And, though I do enjoy a good sarcastic character, it was nice. As the second oldest left with the responsibility of her family, she was very sympathetic. I loved her and could safely wish her a happy-ever-after. But Cezar! He made my blood boil! (Which, to be honest, was kind of the point. So it was good.) Tati and Sorrow were perfect and lovely together. And to top off this cake of beautifully crafted characters was Gogu (Jena's pet frog). He had such a strong will for a frog.
Characters: 5 Stars
       Wildwood Dancing is very loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it didn't take the same overused path of narratio. It took an entirely new angle, one that managed to be classic and incorporate the mystical nature of Transylvania while still being unexpected and exciting. I thought I saw what was coming, but I didn't (admittedly, I am quite gullible). It was satisfying, and bitter-sweet.
Plot: 4.5 Stars
        The book did start out a bit slow and excessively wordy, but this aspect faded out after the first few chapters. Those chapters are definitely worth sticking through, and I think this narration helped reinforce Jena's character. It also brought to mind the straight forward nature of fairy tales and made the tale more beautiful.
Style: 4 Stars

Rating: 4.5
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy
YA Fiction

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