Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier | Book Review

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Hello There

Last night, I finished reading Daughter of the Forest *quite late* and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. For the first time in a while, it motivated me to write an entire review, because there was so much I wanted to say, there is so much I loved about it and I thought it would be the occasion to start sharing my book reviews here as well! I read this book as part of #MythTakeReads, which is hosted by Ashleigh @ A Frolic Through Fiction and Charlotte @ Bookmarks and Vlogging.

🌸 What is Daughter of the Forest about?

This novel follows Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, but her joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent.

If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

🌸 My thoughts on the book

I’ve been so curious about Juliet Marillier’s works for years now, because I feel like everyone adores them, Daughter of the Forest being their favourite, so I was really looking forward to finally reading it! Before I really get into the review, this book has a trigger warning for a graphic r*pe scene, so be cautious if you decide to read it.

Daughter of the Forest starts off when Sorcha is young and follows her from childhood into womanhood. It is quite dense and slow-paced, but I found that it was so worth it! I even devoured the second half of it, for I had to know what would happen to Sorcha, and I finished reading at 1:30 a.m., which rarely ever happens to me. This book was so immersive, beautifully written, felt like a fairy tale and I couldn’t get enough of it (which makes sense, considering it is a fairy tale retelling of The Six Swans)! I also really liked how it discussed the way sorcery was perceived and prejudiced opinions you can have on your (supposed) ennemies.

I adored reading from Sorcha’s point of view and felt close to her. I almost felt like her emotions and reactions were mine in some situations, and I admired her so much, she was such a quietly strong character. Moreover, her love for her brothers shone throughout and while there were six of them (which can be hard to keep track off), they all had a different voice and it was easy for me to remember them. One of my favourite things to read about in fiction is sibling dynamics in a big family; Daughter of the Forest totally delivered in that regard, I loved these siblings so much! I also came to care for so many of the secondary characters of the novel and I would love to see them again.

i-miss-you

I had read somewhere that Juliet Marillier was amazing at world-building and weaving folklore into her stories and I totally agree with that! This book is set in a medieval-inspired Ireland, where the Fair Folk meddles in mortal’s stories and magic and curses exist. The world-building was phenomenal, I felt like I was walking alongside Sorcha through the different landscapes and everything was so well-researched! I’m really excited to read more of Marillier’s works to get immersed in her magical worlds again.

Because it is set in a medieval world, Daughter of the Forest was really brutal. Truly, I understand some situations and how women’s choices were assumed without asking them, because that’s what was happening at the time and it was discussed and challenged in regards of the modern audience of the book, but it wasn’t the case for every situation. Indeed, I had some issues on the topic of age difference in the romance (I wish it had been developped more, the transition from Sorcha being considered a child to a woman felt rushed) and the way consensual and loving sex was glossed over when r*pe had been described at length. I’d probably have rated this book five stars if it weren’t for that.

so-close

I really loved that a few storylines were left hanging open, I have a feeling some of them will be really important in the later books and I cannot wait to read about that. While I was finishing the book, I spent I don’t know how much time trying to find matching editions of the next two books, because I need to read them NOW.

If you can’t tell, I fell in love with this novel and while I have a few criticisms about it, I couldn’t stop reading it, I adored Sorcha and the other characters and I only want one thing: to go back to that world already. Daughter of the Forest was such a beautiful, heartbreaking and immersive story and I totally understand why people adore Juliet Marillier’s writing, I can see myself becoming a fan as well.

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lots of love

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Hello There
Ever since I heard about The Gilded Wolves, I was so curious about it: Roshani Chokshi’s writing and I hadn’t gotten to a great start, but so many readers kept praising her works and I wanted to know what the hype was all about. Besides, this book is set in 19th century, which is right up my alley. Of course, when I saw the book up on Netgalley, I didn’t hesitate and I’m so glad I got approved for it! I didn’t love this book as much as everyone else, but I flew through it and it was really entertaining. So, without further ado, happy publication day to The Gilded Wolves and here’s my review of it!

 

Published: January 15th 2019 by Wednesday Books
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Number of pages: 464
 
Goodreads summary: Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.
Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.
Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

MY THOUGHTS

Disclaimer : I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The quotes I used might have changed in the final copy.
My favourite element of The Gilded Wolves was its characters. This novel had such a diverse cast of six main characters, whom I adored. They were so complex and had rich backstories, which made me get to know them pretty well and I’m a bit sad to leave them behind now that I’ve finished the novel. I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t get every main character’s point of view: I feel like I didn’t care as much for one of them, I *almost even* forgot about them at times and so I didn’t really care about this character’s storyline or ending? That’s too bad because I cared about everyone else; at this character, I am really sorry. Moreover, they all had amazing group dynamics and I loved every little interaction they had together. My favourite character was for sure Zofia, because I related to her in so many ways, but I also have a soft spot for Hypnos!

I had high expectations when it comes to the world-building of this novel, especially the parts about late 19th century Paris, as I’m French and a history major, but I can tell you that Roshani Chokshi did her job splendidly! You could tell how much research she put into her book and I loved that she didn’t only show an idealistic Paris: she also showed France’s ugly colonialist past, how unaccepting and racist society could be. As she said in her author’s note:

“History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors.”

Shameful events can often be glossed over and this shouldn’t be. This past needs to be acknowledged, discussed and I’m glad that voices that have been ignored for so long can finally be heard. So many important topics were talked about in this novel and Chokshi did a good job at that. The Gilded Wolves was also full of historical, philosophical and scientific references, which I adored!

While I was impressed by the way Chokshi portrayed Paris, I wasn’t as convinced when she presented the novel’s magic system. It was complex and a bit confusing at times, especially when paragraphs upon paragraphs were explaining the world: it felt a bit like info-dumping to me. Still, it was a bit more interesting once I understood everything.

To talk about the elephant in the room, that many reviewers have discussed: in many things, The Gilded Wolves is quite similar to Six of Crows for some aspects of it. I am not saying that this is a bad thing: The Gilded Wolves has amazing characters no matter what and a different world building, but because of those similarities, the plot didn’t take me by surprise, because it wasn’t anything I hadn’t read before. It could be thrilling at times, but overall I was left being unimpressed by it. Besides, I wasn’t too convinced by the villain: I would have liked to know their motivations more; it has to be more than “I want to take over the world” to me, I need more explanations and very morally gray characters. Despite that, I adored the fact that it was all about a secret society!

I had tried reading Chokshi’s debut in the past without success, but I really liked her writing style in this one, it flowed nicely and I got through this book really quickly. While I don’t really want to pick The Star-Touched Queen again at this point, I’d be interested in reading more of her works.

To conclude, I thought that while being a bit too similar to Six of Crows for my taste, The Gilded Wolves is a novel with amazing characters and a compelling setting that many readers will adore. Some aspects of the novel, such as a confusing magic system at first and a plot that didn’t take me by surprise didn’t convince me as much, but maybe that’s just me? I’m always super picky, haha.

Have you read The Gilded Wolves or are you interested in it?
lots of love

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

Last week, I received an e-ARC of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones, the sequel to Wintersong and of course, I had to drop everything to read it. It only comes out in two weeks, but I decided to share my review with you today, so it might motivate you to pick up Wintersong if you haven’t yet and then to read that one when it’ll be released.


Shadowsong (Wintersong #2) by S. Jae-Jones

Published: February 6th 2018 by Wednesday Books
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Number of pages: 384

Goodreads summary: Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

You can read an excerpt for Shadowsong here.


MY THOUGHTS

Contents warnings for Shadowsong (included in the author’s note at the beginning of the novel) // self-harm, addiction, reckless behaviourssuicidal ideation, bipolar disorder 
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the quotes used in this review might have changed in the finished copy. 

When I started reading Wintersong last year, I had no idea it would end up being one of my favourite reads of 2017 and yetit was exactly the book for me. Like I told you a few weeks agoShadowsongits sequelwas one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and I was over the moon when I got to read it early. I was a bit scared it wouldn’t live up to Wintersong, but it truly was amazing. 

“You didn’t tell me living would be one decision after another, some easy, some difficult. You didn’t tell me living wasn’t a battle, but a war. You didn’t tell me that living was a choice, and that every day I choose to continue was another victory, another triumph.” (p.96)


I’ll say this straight away: Shadowsong is quite different from Wintersong, but it is still an amazing novel. I also have to say that this review will never do the book justice, but I had to stop writing at some point, or it would have been way too long. I just hope I will be able to make you eager to read this book and if you haven’t read Wintersong yet, you should check out my review of it. 

From the very first lines, I fell in love with S. Jae-Jones’ beautiful and poetic writing once again. I absolutely loved that she used quotes from Beethoven to introduce the different parts of the novel, as well as the use of musical terms for some chapters. I felt like I was reading a fairy tale that had gone completely wrong. Some aspects of Shadowsong actually reminded me of Hades and Persephone, which is such an interesting arc to develop in fiction and that’s pretty much one of my weaknesses. Once again, the author incorporated elements of folklore into her story easily, even showing that some elements of folklore were common to different cultures and that this story, that was set in Austria, could have repercussions in the rest of the world, which was somehow quite realistic. Her world-building was once again compelling and I always needed more of it. This time, the novel wasn’t set much in the Underground, but I really loved seeing the world-building in our world. 
Shadowsong picks up six months after the ending of Wintersong and from the very beginning, the author shows that her characters are in a completely different state of mind, that they’re completely lost within their own lives. In the background, we have glimpses of the upcoming plot, but some readers might feel like it will be a bit slow to start, because this story is as much about the consequences of the events of Wintersong as the characters finding themselves again. I didn’t mind at all, but I know it might bother some readers, so now you know. Shadowsong is a dark and twisted novel, plays with the boundaries between reality and delusion. In my opinion, Shadowsong was a slow-paced, atmospheric read I had no choice but to devour, because I couldn’t get enough of it. I read it in less than 24 hours, for I simply couldn’t stop myself. 
While Wintersong explored Liesl and the Goblin King’s relationship, Shadowsong focused on her dynamics with her brother, Josef. [Warning for the Goblin King’s fans: you won’t see much of it in the novel, but I loved that the author went that way.] I have a weakness for family dynamics and S. Jae-Jones explored this one in a very realistic way: the characters don’t know each other anymore, they can’t get through the other and yet, they would do anything for each other. Liesl and Josef were far from perfect with each other, but their relationship rang true and this sibling relationship is something I definitely want to see more of in YA fiction. 

“In the end, words had been insufficient. Music was the language my brother and I shared down to our bones. Melodies were our sentences, movements our paragraphs. We spoke best when we let our fingers do the talking – mine over my keyboard, his over the strings. It was in our playing, not my letters, that I could make Sepperl understand.” (p. 61)


One of my favourite aspects of the novel was definitely Liesl’s character development. At the beginning of Shadowsong, it might look like she finally has everything she ever wanted, yet she is completely lost within her own life, she doesn’t know who she is anymore, she even struggles to find motivation to get through every single day. It might not be easy to read at times, but as someone who has felt this way, I can tell you that the author did a fantastic job at putting those feelings into words and it made me relate to Liesl even more. For almost all of the novel, she was a broken character and I really loved that the author showed us that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, but that we can still find ourselves, at some point. Liesl is such a strong character, loyal to her loved ones, trying to be someone and I really admire her for all of that. She might be one of the characters I relate to the most in YA literature. I will miss her so much, because following her journey truly was wonderful.

“As I turn to peer into each of the mirrors, I see a different facet of myself: the girl with music in her soul, the daughter, the friend, the sister. These are all parts of me, entire, yet, I did not know until this moment how I had fractured myself, unable to understand how to fit these pieces together into a whole.” (p. 354) 

The last few chapters of the novel were absolutely spectacular, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire time, devouring words after words to know how the author would wrap everything up. I obviously can’t tell you much about that, but it was a very satisfactory conclusion to an amazing duology. 
Overall, I absolutely adored Shadowsong. It was a dark, heart-wrenching story and I am so sad to say goodbye to those characters. This duology truly was made for me and I cannot wait to read what S. Jae-Jones will publish next. Sadly, I couldn’t write about all the aspects of the novel because it would be an essay and not a review, but I hope that what you just read convinced you to read Wintersong and Shadowsong.

Other quotes I adored: 

“People don’t disappear, but their stories become forgotten,” he said in a soft voice. “It is only the faithful who remember.” (p. 53)

“Perhaps I love the monstrous because I was a monster.” (p. 261)

“You allowed me to forgive myself for being imperfect. For being a sinner. For being me.” (p. 356) 



Thank you for reading,
Lots of love,
Lucie