Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier has been on my tbr book stack for soooo long and honestly, if Lynn from over at Lynn’s Books hadn’t agreed to buddy-read it with me, it’d still be there now. I knew I wanted to read more of Marillier’s books, but just didn’t have the gumption. I recommend buddy-reading wholeheartedly to anyone who needs a little added motivation.
The first half of our conversation can be found over on Lynn’s site here and that’s definitely where you should start. If you’ve come here from over there, then hi! and welcome. Nice of you to stop by.
So, to continue from where we left off, and with a reminder that SPOILERS abound …
Lynn: The only other thing, and for the life of me I can’t find where I read this – but did we read something about a prophecy, somebody called the raven maybe, returning to the isles and reuniting the people? I’ve looked back and can’t find it so perhaps I’ve just made it up but I can’t help wondering if this refers to Sorcha, she’s the chosen one? What do you think? Oh, and I wonder why the ‘folk’ are so interested in helping. It seems that they usually have an underlying motive, or I suppose they could just be entertaining themselves? But, it feels a little like they’re more anxious than they like to let on – they don’t perhaps want the evil stepmother becoming stronger somehow?
Probably just overthinking things 😀
Mayri: No, I remember something about a raven – but can’t find it, and i didn’t make a note about it either. I’m wondering if I read it online?
Yeah, I’m really curious about why the Fair Folk are so involved in this, and why they seem to care that Sorcha complete her task (I thought they usually liked to keep throwing obstacles in the way at the last minute). Makes me wonder if Oonagh is more than just a human woman maybe? I don’t see what other stake the Fair Folk could have in this.
I really like Harrowfield and had started to suspect that Red might be Simon’s brother before he said so. I think Simon must really be dead though, and that makes me sad. I was hoping we’d get to see him healed.
Lord Richard is an absolute arsehole though! Marillier can really write detestable bad guys, huh?
Lynn: The other thought, and you’ll soon come to realise I do jump around like a maniac, is I wondered if Oonagh and Lord Richard had a connection. Simply because he’s the one interested in the warring and her efforts against Sorcha and the boys definitely undermine the other side a little?
Anyway – so having read Chapter Twelve I now know that the two of them are in it together. Furious.
My God. Lord Richard – what a total b*****d.
Mayri: I didn’t see the witch-burning coming at all! And Richard made me angrier and angrier with his visits to Sorcha in her cell – the author did an incredible job of making him utterly horrible!
Lynn: Seriously – I was cringing.
Mayri: I was very interested in Sorcha thinking of herself as like Oonagh in the community’s eyes at Harrowfield.
Lynn: Yes – there were similarities – like was Oonagh just misunderstood? NO. Not at all. But yes, you couldn’t help think that the community was bound to think Sorcha bewitched Red.
And I hated all the build up of suspicion and bad feeling: Alys being tormented, the stained dress, the fire in the long room and then John’s death. I cried at that. Poor Margery!
Lynn: That was so sad. I really didn’t see that coming at all. Obviously things were building to a head, but that was so unexpected. As Lord Richard had men of his own infiltrating the place, you’d think it would have just been easier to poison Sorcha or take a very sneaky route rather than the big build up.
Mayri: I did love all Sorcha’s little comments about the Britons being serious, unimaginative and not able to mourn their dead properly. While the Britons, particularly Richard, think of the Irish as savage killers.
Lynn: Haha, yes, the pot and the kettle. That age old thing that your way is the best way. In fairness the Britons had scrubbed out a lot of their old beliefs. Ironic though that the Britons thought of themselves civilised and the Irish as savages all the while warring with them to take their lands. Nothing like a bit of brass neck.
Mayri: And then, oh my goodness, the beach.
Red’s story of Toby and the mermaid was just lovely. And Sorcha’s all like, ‘oh, you people do tell stories’ – ha! The feeling of peace was wonderful, but it also feels very much like an interlude before things get worse.
And Red’s change of heart was interesting. I like Red a lot, except when he loses his temper, and it felt quite big that he’s no longer sure if he’s to be part of the continuity of Harrowfield as he thought. I loved all of this so much.
Lynn: I loved the tale of the mermaid – because it played into his eventual feelings of letting Sorcha go because he knew she wanted to return home. I love things like that and the way Marillier seamlessly wove this into the story. You would either pick up the similarities or not and it would either be a lovely parallel or just a lovely tale.
Mayri: Dagnabbit Lynn, I didn’t notice this at all! I’m such a dope. I just thought, like Sorcha, that it was proof the Briton’s did have stories to tell.
Then we’re back in the thick of it with all the treacheries revealed: Oonagh’s double dealing, Eamonn and Richard. Wow.
Lynn: Yes, wow, just wow. Really Eamonn – what the heck.
Mayri: And Elaine loved Simon? But then he’s found (!!!) and he asks Sorcha why she didn’t wait for him? This is too many broken hearts for me!
Lynn: I must admit I didn’t see that one coming either. Well, I did and I didn’t, originally I had visions of the two of them (Simon and Sorcha) together, but then that notion went by the wayside when she met Red. I can understand why Simon would develop feelings for Sorcha, she was his lifeline after all. I think the only thing though, was it made me feel kind of sad for Simon having unrequited love. It also demonstrated how completely unaware Sorcha was of her own ‘loveableness’ – not even a word but you know what I mean.
Mayri: Agreed, right back at the beginning I thought Simon and Sorcha would end up together after some kind of losing and finding one another type story. Which obviously got scuppered as soon as we met Red.
I’m so glad Simon didn’t die, but am still a bit disturbed that he fell in love with a 12-year-old girl when he was around 16. And I’m not sure how I feel about Sorcha being so young even at the end of the book. She’s what, 16-years-old here? That’s still very young to my mind (I’m getting an old woman about stuff like this now!) and as I’ve been reading I’ve been imagining her older all the while.
Lynn: Yes, I think, as I said above that Simon probably had that strange love of his rescuer syndrome going on. Even so Sorcha was 12. I confess that I’d put her age totally out of my mind until it was mentioned that she was 16 and then I was shocked. Genuinely shocked. I just wasn’t reading her as that age in my head (which I know is ridiculous), I guess times were very different – women were married off at very young ages – it’s a bit horrifying isn’t it, and yet true. I was still a bit ‘what now?’. I think I would have preferred if Marillier had taken longer. Remember I said above it wouldn’t surprise me if the task took Sorcha seven years – well that would at least have made her 19.
Mayri: Yes! I remember you saying, and I’d have much preferred that.
I felt that the ending was very bittersweet. They start to rebuild and repair, but each of the brothers drifts away. And Finbar’s story is particularly sad as he never fully came back.
Lynn: So, did he return to his female swan? That’s my take on it.
Mayri: I agree. This is what I’m choosing to believe. Finbar was my favourite of the brothers, I hope he’s content.
Lynn: I guess it was left open but maybe he comes back in a future book? I don’t suppose he would have been totally happy remaining half in this world and half in another.
Mayri: I’m just a big bundle of feelings right now! How do you feel about it now we’ve finished Lynn?
Lynn: Well, similar to you – sort of bittersweet. I loved when Red finally came to Ireland and told his story. That was my comment on Twitter about being ‘undone’. I kind of wished that the boys hadn’t all drifted apart but then I feel Marillier’s she’s left lots of openings for them to get back together in future installments.
I already was very familiar with this fairytale and one thing that I did like was that it didn’t totally follow the fairy story which I don’t think I could have handled. It was undoubtedly harsh in parts, the rape, Lord Richard, but then I recall reading something a long time ago about fairytales and their origins and the way they’d been sweetened up over the years to make bedtime reading for children. I’m sure I recall that Sleeping Beauty was awoken by much more than a kiss for example – but I really can’t say whether that is fact or fiction. But, I liked that Marillier feels like she’s going back to an original type tale and she also acknowledges through Sorcha that over the course of the years the tale twisted and turned to become the fairytale we know. Strangely enough, this tale, which feels as though it’s going back to its original roots somehow, actually did have the fae meddling in human lives, but the actual fairytale doesn’t include any fae.
Mayri: You’re right of course, fairytales used to be brutal. And I enjoy Marillier’s take on this.
Good point that she’s kind of going back to an original tale, but it has the Folk in it nonetheless!
Lynn: And of course, Oonagh made her escape and we still have no idea what she is? Witch? Fae? Other?
Mayri: I wonder if she will crop up in the following books. I feel like the Folk were too concerned with Sorcha’s task for Oonagh not to be at least half fae … surely? (Watch me get that totally wrong!)
I was frustrated that she didn’t get her comeuppance.
Lynn: Overall, I enjoyed this. It was very easy to read. Marillier has a certain way with words.
Mayri: Agreed, a lovely easy read because Marillier knows how to tell a tale.
Lynn: In fairness, I wouldn’t say it absolutely bowled me over as much as I was expecting, being Marillier and also seeming to be so widely loved. But it was good and it kept me hooked and entertained. What about you?? (and of course I do love the way she writes).
Mayri: Yeah, she writes beautifully, but I think, if I’m honest, I was a little more impressed with Heart’s Blood (surprise!) than I was with this. Not that it wasn’t good reading, I just expected something more. I couldn’t tell you what I was expecting though – this book just left a kind of untidy impression in my mind. That’s the only way I can describe it. This doesn’t mean, of course, that I won’t be interested to read the following books and see where Marillier goes with these characters and others.
A big thank you once again to Lynn for buddy-reading this with me, and for remaining calm when I failed to keep up and occasionally had to disappear altogether (because of stupid shift work that keeps messing up my body clock). You’ve been patient, kind and great fun to talk to Lynn!