If you remember my post from a couple of weeks back, I explained how I barely ever read randomly any more, and that I had picked this book on a whim at the bookshop to try and remedy that.
And I fell so lucky with my random read, because this book was absolutely AMAZING! Set in Celtic Britain, Daughter of the Forest tells the tale of Sorcha and her six brothers, who are the children of the stern Lord Colem of Sevenwaters (an Irish lord). When their father is captivated by the beautiful but sinister Lady Oonagh, Sorcha’s beloved brothers are enchanted by their new stepmother and are forced to take on the form of swans until their sister can complete the terrible task that has been set for her. Her task is complicated when she is taken prisoner by a band of Britons, and she is taken from her home in Ireland to the British mainland. Finding herself torn between her duty to her brothers and a growing love for her captor, Sorcha struggles to complete her task…
This book genuinely had some of the most beautiful writing I had ever read in it, and I was captivated by the mysterious characters and intrinsic sense of place from the very beginning of the novel. Whilst the plot is slow-building, and it takes over 200-pages to get to the main plot point described in the blurb – Sorcha being taken captive by the Britons – I didn’t mind when the writing was so engaging, and the characters were developed so well.
I loved Sorcha as a heroine and adored her close, almost magical relationship to her brothers from the start. Whilst all six of her brothers have vastly different personalities, their bond proves itself to be unbreakable, as the lengths Sorcha is willing to go to to break the curse upon them is incredible.
Part of this curse-breaking task was that she has to stay silent until she breaks the curse, and I really liked that aspect as it makes it all the more interesting when she is captured. She refuses to speak to her captors, and communicates only in a rudimentary with hand signals, yet she still manages to capture the heart of Red, a British Lord who is in Ireland searching for his missing brother.
I really liked Red as a character, as he was fairly untypical of a fantasy hero. Whilst he’s a little moody, he is also kind and gentle, and would rather be helping on the farms on his estate than riding to war. His growing feelings for Sorcha are heart-warming to read, but this is complicated by the reactions to her from his family and household.
As the Irish are thought by the Britons to be no more than savages, and are in fact at war with them at the time, Sorcha is spurned by Red’s family, and isn’t trusted by the people of his estate, especially due to her apparent inability to speak. However, she does manage to make some friends during her stay, and I really liked her relationships with Margery, John, Ben and Megan. Red’s uncle, however, is an absolutely abhorrent character, and you find yourself truly fearing for Sorcha’s safety on the couple of occasions she finds herself alone with him. His comments to her make your skin crawl, and there’s always a certain menace about him.
I liked the ending of this book, and am pretty excited to see that this is the start of a trilogy. I will definitely be trying to get hold of the second book soon, and after reading this book I would pretty much read anything by Juliet Marillier! The writing was so beautifully crafted and had such an enchanting, magical feel to it that reminded me of a fairytale (I think the story is in fact based on a Germanic fairytale called The Six Swans), and the characters were well-developed and incredibly likeable (or loathable in the case of Lady Oonagh and Red’s uncle Richard).
Reading this book has also shown me how random reading can be nice sometimes, and that you can discover some amazing books that way. Whereas I generally already know what I’m going to the bookshop to buy beforehand, I may occasionally try a random book based off the blurb as well when I have a bit of spare money (and I will now be adding the rest of the Sevenwaters Trilogy to my extensive TBR list).