Author: Juliet Marillier.
Published: January 23rd 2007.
Sort: Part one of ‘Wildwood.’
THIS IS A REREAD.
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.
This book is a soft mix of The frog princess and The twelve dancing princesses. Jena lives with her four sisters and father in the middle of a forest called Wildwood. There are rumors about magic and otherworldly creatures. There are whispers about the danger of those creatures, but Jenna and her sisters know better. Every full moon, they use a portal in their room to cross to the other side where they dance until the morning. What I love is how every sister has her distinct voice, like Paula how discusses science with the witches, or the young Stella who plays hide and seek with the younger creatures.
When their father leaves to a warm country to regain strength from his sickness, Jena is in charge. She has always been the responsible one and she has taken over the role of mother after she died. Jena has one best friend, her frog Goku. He talks to her in her head and their friendship is so cute. Despite the fact that he is a frog, they care for each other and he is always there to help her. But their cousin Cezar finds it irresponsible to leave a girl in charge. Women are meant to take care of the children and nothing more. Jena tries to stand up against him, but it’s no use. He slowly takes over their household and his hatred for the otherworldly creatures is blinding him. The girls are in a difficult position now, especially when Tati (the eldest sister) falls in love with a Nightwalker. It’s not safe to cross to the other world now and Jena must end this, otherwise Tati might die from sadness.
Every sister has a distinct voice. There is Paula, the intelligent one who loves to talk to the witches and wizards about science and the youngest sister Stella who loves to play hide and seek with her mystical friends. We get to know them and I like them all for their own aspects, but this book is mainly about Jena, a girl with a huge heart and much courage. She is somethings too strong for her own good, but I love how she does everything with good intentions. It's not easy for her to stand up against Cezar - especially when he is starting to show certain affections for her.
The use of the fairytales is subtle and I like how she created a story of her own. It’s not too obvious that it’s based on another tale and I adore her world-building. If you’ve never experience Marillier’s writing-style before, I highly suggest you do. It’s flowing, descriptive: just pure magic. I hope I did justice to this book.