Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

After I read this book, I realized I could count it as part of the Classic Double Challenge 2012 over at One Librarian's Book Reviews. I only committed to reading one set of books for the challenge, but I am NOT going to count this as my one set, since the original "Twelve Dancing Princesses" is a short story. I have Peter Pan and The Starchaser series waiting for me, so that's the set that I will count. I actually have several more fairy tale books waiting, too. :) I'm very excited for them!

The Twelve Dancing Princesses:

If you'd like to read this story, just go to SurLaLune Fairy Tales. I've read two versions of the story now, and they were both different. The one at Surlalune is a good bit darker than the one I have on my shelf. Of course, I prefer the sweeter version! It seems like all the re-tellings(books) I've read add in a big dose of Persephone. I read some of the annotations at Surlalune, and Persephone is mentioned in those, too. I didn't realize there were so many versions of the "original" story.

Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 25, 2008) 432 pages

"Taul Ielelor had always been forbidden. Children love forbidden places, especially when they lie deep in a mysterious dark forest, where all kinds of wonderful games can be played, games that last from dawn to dusk and spring to life again next morning. At Full Moon, the lake formed the border where everything began to smell richer and to look brighter, where every sound became honey for the ears. Crossing the Bright Between made our senses come alive in a way we had never known in the human world."

Wildwood Dancing is a lovely mix of different fairy tale re-tellings. There's even a bit of Jane Austen in there! The most noticeable is "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", although there's only 5 sisters in this story. It's only been about 2 years since the last time I read it, but I had already forgotten a great deal. I loved it more reading it a second time, because I caught so much more than I did the first time.

I just adore Juliet's writing. Wildwood Dancing is classic fairy tale for me. There's a touch of romance, like most fairy tales, but it's definitely not the main focus. I love that Juliet has created flawed characters. They aren't perfectly beautiful or handsome. She seems to very quietly stress the importance of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

"The sun set beyond the colored window four more times, and inside our chamber the stories went on. Not all were joyful tales; we needed to acknowledge that love was not just kisses, smiles, and fulfillment, but also sacrifice, compromise, and hard work."

I don't think I even noticed that part the first time I read it, or even the flawed characters.

There's only one thing that I think some of you might not like. There is one sister that portrays a very unhealthy view of love. When you read it, you'll know what I mean. It's not a huge part of the story, though, so I still very highly recommend reading it. That portion of the story kind of leads up to another fairy tale re-telling. I know I'm being kind of vague there, but I really don't want to give anything away.

If you like magical fairy tale stories, I HIGHLY recommend giving this one a chance! I absolutely adore it!


  1. I've heard this is an awesome book. Great review.

  2. I loved this book but was also troubled by that sister's view-so disturbing especially since I wanted her to be the brave eldest sister who protected her family instead of being consumed by "love."