Daughter of the Forest is the stand alone first book of the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Mariller. First published in 1999, it's loosely based on the old story of The Six Swans which has been written about in Grimm's Fairy Tales and by Hans Christian Anderson. As I had only the faintest recollection of the story, I was not quite sure what to expect and I think that this allowed me to enjoy the unravelling of the tale more.
The blurb: "Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of Sight; and the young, compassionate Padraic.
But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, too young to have known her mother, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift..."Living in Ireland, and against the backdrop of fierce hatred of the invading Britons, Sorcha was raised almost entirely by her six elder brothers and their sense of being a unit is absolute until their father brings home a new bride...
I quite honestly read this book into the night until my eyes burned as I could not put it down. It's a story of love, friendship, loss, fear, tragedy, betrayal and steadfast commitment to family. Although at times surprisingly harrowing, this is at heart a historical romance/fantasy that's really quite heart warming and great fun. Reading this book made me realise that there is not nearly enough romance in my reading matter and I shall have to rectify that soon as I really enjoyed myself. Oh. Except for the bits where I blubbed into my pillow like a teenage girl!
Juliet Marillier was born in New Zealand and now lives in a rural area outside Perth in Western Australia. She set Sevenwaters in County Armagh and has some photos she took up on her site which help to bring the area alive. I think that she did a great job of emersing herself in the Irish and English countryside and look forward to reading more of her work.