A few friends have recommended Daughter of the Forest to me and I'm kinda kicking myself for not reading this book sooner. The only book I've read by Juliet Marillier prior to this one is Heart's Blood and while I didn't hate it, it took me FOREVER to actually become interested in the story and finish it. Ironically, the slow-building plot is one of the things I liked the most about this book. The first twenty to thirty pages were somewhat tedious, but they were necessary to establish the bond that existed between Sorcha and her six brothers. I loved learning about each sibling's personality and interests, as well as getting a glimpse of their relatively happy childhood together. The siblings' love for each other other and their sense of unity is the heart of the story, although the strength of their bond is simultaneously tragic.
There are few stories that I would label as being perfect, but this one is pretty darn close. The story's heroine, Sorcha, is the youngest of seven children and the only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Like many fairy tales, the widower father remarries and is bewitched by his bride. Lord Colum's children find themselves trapped by a curse cast by their evil stepmother, and Sorcha is burdened with the nearly impossible task of saving her brothers.
It must be emphasized that this is not some fluffy tale where the heroine goes on a quest to another land and falls in love with a handsome prince who will save the day. It is a very dark story. Sorcha endures numerous horrors, most of which take place when she is between the ages of 13 and 15 years old. Daughter of the Forest is complex and focuses on what it means to have courage and make sacrifices for the people you love.
Sorcha transforms from a slightly pampered girl to a pillar of strength before our eyes, and her loyalties are tested when she joins forces with an enemy clan in order to save her family. This book is an amazing piece of literature. Please read it.