Hi there! Who likes fairy tales? I do and I recently read Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.
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.
Like I mentioned before, I love fairy tales. I’m always a sucker for them. All the time. This one had been sitting on my “To Read” shelf for a few years and I’m so glad I finally got to it because although it took a little for me to get into, once I was hooked, I was hooked! Completely enthralled!
In Wildwood Dancing, Juliet Marillier masterfully weaves together multiple fairy tales giving this story its own unique appeal. I can’t tell you which fairy tales Marillier uses without giving away major plot lines and twists, but I will say that the main one is The Twelve Dancing Princesses which has been one of my all time favorite fairy tales since I was a child. In fact, the main reason I love this fairy tale so much is due to an animated show that used to be on Nickelodeon in the 90s when I was a kid. Does anyone remember this series? It was called Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics and this particular episode was The Word Out Dancing Shoes.
I used to love when that episode came on! Well, Wildwood Dancing reminded me a lot of this episode!
One of the main things I really enjoyed about this story is the setting. Marillier places her characters in Transylvania, a region in Romania, circa 1500 – right smack dab in the middle of the medieval era! I love how Marillier pulled in the rich Transylvanian folklore to make her story stronger. Wildwood Dancing combines historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and drama all into one big bowl and mixes it all together to create fairy tale awesomeness. Seriously.
Although this is a take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, this story only has five. Jena, the main character, is a smart and opinionated young woman who is used to being the practical one. She is, although not the oldest sister, the mother-like figure to them all; she keeps an eye on her sisters when they travel to the magical Wildwood on full moon nights. Her main flaw, which Jena comes to realize, is her constant attempt to control everything, especially change. Jena is both the traditional princess who follows rules and a more modern girl with some spunk.
I will say that the beginning of the story was slightly slow and difficult to get into, but once the story picks up you’re in for good. I listened to the audiobook, as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge. It is narrated by Kim Mai Guest and was enthralled. I’m quickly realizing that Kim Mai Guest is my favorite audiobook narrator out there. I’ve happened to listen to three or four books narrated by her and am constantly amazed at her range and ability to speak with difficult accents so well. She’s kind of my audiobook idol.
Wildwood Dancing comes highly recommended to those who love fairy tales and fantasy, but I definitely suggest the audiobook because Mai Guest is a master at accents and this is her narration best!