Saturday, July 13, 2019

Review: Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier (NSFW)

I'm one of those people who covers their ears and flees into the night at the first hint of spoilers. Sometimes even the blurb on the back of the book annoys me--tell me the setup, yes, but don't mention events from half-way through the book! So, when I started Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters Book 1), I started blind, knowing only that it was historical fiction set in ancient Ireland. When I got to the Celtic fairy tale aspects I had to set the book down to squee.


Juliet Marillier weaves this retelling in such intimate, immersive detail that calling it a fairy tell remix feels ingenuine. You'll fall in love with each character in a way that transcends the original lore while bringing you closer to mystical Ireland with every fae breath of the wind in the trees. Enter a world where the old ways are fading even as the Old Ones put in very real appearances, hooking their fingers into the paths of fate in a way Sorcha, the daughter of the forest, could never predict. Can Sorcha forge her own path through fate to save her loved ones from bitter evil?

Just as Irish fairy tales warn of deep loss (here's looking at you, Cecilia Dart-Thorton's Bitterbynde Trilogy), each installment of Sevenwaters dives deep into darkness - rape, despair, death, torture - you name it. Yet, Marillier also brings out the best in humanity through a light of perseverance and hope perhaps more powerful than the strange magics of Sevenwaters' forest nymphs and selkie caves.

Each sequel introduces compelling new characters as we follow along through the generations of Sorcha's ancestral home. Books 1-3 form their own trilogy with a fairly tied-up ending:

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters Book 1)
Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters Book 2)
Child of the Prophecy (Sevenwaters Book 3)

Books 4-6 work as a separate trilogy that follows chronologically after the first trilogy. Mac Dara harasses the characters until the final show-off in book 6 and I felt the new antagonist gives this trilogy somewhat of a different feel from the first three books.  I found these books more predictable due to the formulaic nature of the series, yet I still enjoyed each one:

Heir to Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters Book 4)
Seer of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters Book 5)
Flame of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters Book 6)

Trigger warning: This series contains a rape scene. That is why I have marked it (NSFW).