Title: Wildwood Dancing
Author: Juliet Marillier
Publishing Information: January 23, 2007 by Knopf
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings
Series information: Book 1 in Wildwood
Format: Hardcover, 407 pages
Recommended For: Readers looking for a romantic and intriguing retelling of a childhood tale.
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.
Jenica is the second eldest in a household of five sisters. Jena and her sisters live with their father in Transylvania in an old castle called Piscul Draculi. Though Jena isn’t the oldest of these girls she is the most responsible and clear-headed. Her best friend is a frog named Gogu, he has been her constant companion for many years and they understand one another in a special way. Every night of the full moon the sisters are able to open a secret portal in their room and travel to the Other Kingdom where they dance and laugh with the folk who dwell there.
Jena and her sisters enjoy their life and are very upset when their father takes an extended leave on a trip, leaving their cousin Cezar to look over things at their castle. Cezar is an angry man and has a lot of bitterness and hatred toward the Other Kingdom. Cezar’s hatred comes from the loss of his brother as a child, he believes the witch from deep in the forest to be the cause of his brother’s death and has never forgiven her or the forest that keeps her.
The girls continue going to the dancing glade and take comfort while they’re away from the sorrows in their life at home. This comfort is short lived when a new group of creatures known as the Night People become frequent guests at the glade. After this group’s first night in the Other Kingdom, Tatiana, the eldest sister, meets a young man named Sorrow and immediately falls in love. Soon this love takes over and Tatiana stops eating and nearly dies as it consumes her. Meanwhile, Cezar’s wrath starts to consume him and he threatens to burn the entire forest, and the Other Kingdom along with it. Jena and Gogu must do all that they can to overcome Cezar and keep Tatiana alive and well enough until Sorrow can come for her.
If I absolutely HAD to choose a favorite author I would choose Juliet Marillier. Her Sevenwaters series are books so close to my heart I have a hard time recommending them to people because I want them to be mine, all mine!! As is her fashion, Marillier creates a strong female character that has to overcome many trials and tears before finding herself and her happiness. I was worried that this book would not live up to my high expectations, but Juliet Marillier delivered an absolutely gorgeous novel filled with adventure and love in many forms.
This book comes highly recommended; it breaks the heart into tiny pieces and then mends them one by one.