Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.
Sigh, what a gorgeous book. The cover truly reflects the beauty of the story itself. I simply could not read it quickly, wanting to savor as much as I could while being caught up in the story.
I tend to dislike retellings of fairy tales and folk tales into teen novels. On some level many of them seem to lack the luster of my childhood imagination. Marillier’s story is the exception to that.
It is the story of five sisters who travel between their world of Transylvania to the other realm where they meet fairies and other incredible characters. The tale is told from the perspective of Jena, second oldest sister, who found a frog as a child and still carries her pet around with her at all times. Her older sister Tati is the beauty, who early in the story falls in love with Sorrow, who may or may not be one of the Night People who resemble vampires. The three youngest sisters offer other distinct personalities as well. Jena and Tati find themselves in danger both in the other realm and at their home. When Night People begin to tempt them to the darker side of the Wildwood, their cousin Cezar begins to dominate their lives at home. The tangles of their double lives as well as of their hearts remind one of the thorny tangle guarding Sleeping Beauty.
References to all sorts of fairy tales and folk tales are made from the Frog Prince to the 12 Dancing Princesses to vampires to fairies and nymphs. It may sound overwhelming, but the author skillfully weaves all of these into a tale that rings more true than any of the original tales. She takes these fragments, making them into something larger and more lovely. It becomes a world that any reader will be loathe to leave.
I especially applaud the author on her skill with offering just enough detail to carry the story and involve the imagination. It is a delicate line to cross. Too much detail and the fairy land becomes less real, too little and it doesn’t evoke the magic necessary. But in this novel, readers are allowed to create their own childhood fairy tales again, led by the author through a remarkable original tale of her own.
Recommend to fantasy lovers but also girls who enjoy romances or horror. There are so many levels to this book, that it will appeal to many types of reader. This is one of the treasures of the year!