Sunday, April 27, 2014

Book Review: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Wildwood Dancing
By Juliet Marillier
Release Date: January 23. 2007
Source: Library
Summary: 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.

Review: For my young adult lit class, I had to choose a book that is considered international literature to read. I found this one on a YALSA list and had no idea it was Australian. Since it had over a four star rating on Goodreads, I decided to give it a try. 

Jena and her four sisters live in castle Piscul Draculi in the Transylvania woods. Every full moon, the sisters open up a secret portal that lets them into the Other Kingdom where they can dance with the magical creatures of the forest. But when their father becomes ill and their cousin is determined to kill the magical folk of the forest, Jena has to take charge and protect her family. When her older sister falls in love with a creature of the Night People, Jena doesn't know how to protect her sisters anymore. Jena must try to save not only her sister, but the creatures she has come to love from her power hungry cousin and the dangerous creatures of the Other Kingdom. 

What really drew me into this book was that it's a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince. While I'm not familiar with the fairytale, I absolutely love fairytales, so I was excited to see what world the author could create from the story. When I started this book, though, it was so hard to get into this story and I didn't fully understand things until about 100 pages in. After those 100 pages, I finally grasped the world Jena lived in and the troubles she was facing with her duties to her family and her love for the Other Kingdom. 

I really loved the various creatures found in this book. Gogu is such a cool character and I loved how Jena had a frog as a best friend. The various characters that guided the sisters across the river were very unique too and really brought the Other Kingdom alive. And you can't have a story without some forbidden romance thrown into the mix. While Jena's sister's complete dependence on the forbidden vampire-like man got a bit annoying, their romance was sweet and you could see them truly falling in love. 

Overall, this was a cute book that was very unique with its fantastical world. I just wish, though, it didn't take so long to get into and that we only really got to know Jena and her older sister. With five sisters as the central focus, I wish we got to know them all a lot more than we actually did. While the story was unique and magical, I was left watching more from the story.


  1. I've had this on my wishlist/tbr shelf for quite some time now and I think yours if the first review I've read for it since. I've heard it was something of a classic for high-fantasy fans but reading your review made me even more curious to check it out! It's a shame it took you a bit to really get into the story and that some of the sisters were more neglected in the narrative. Despite that I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Thanks for the wonderful review ^^

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

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