I am not usually a fan of fantasy literature. Too many contrived histories and geographies and unpronounceable names. But, I have a weak spot for Ireland and druids and wise-woman healers and when I came across a promising story, which had consistently excellent reviews, I decided not to let the “fantasy” sticker deter me. I am glad I did not miss this one.
Daughter of the Forest is the first in the Sevenwaters Trilogy -- though with the recent publication of a fourth Sevenwaters story, does that make it a quartet? Richly evocative of roughly the dark ages, when the soul of ancient Ireland was threatened by the arrival of Christianity, it is part history, part adventure, part fairy tale and wholly engaging. Beautifully crafted by author Juliet Marillier, the plot is an adaptation of the fairy tale The Six Swans. Yes, the six brothers are turned into swans by the wicked step-mother and their only sister must weave shirts in utter silence to save her dear brothers from the spell. But, Marillier takes that thread of a tale and transforms it into the most believable story imaginable.
That is just the beginning. In the subsequent Sevenwaters books, the story of the next three generations of this magical family unfolds in an Ireland still landscaped with dense forests, populated with wise druids, herbal healers, seers and harping bards, and entwined with magic.