Flame of Sevenwaters — Juliet Marillier
While browsing the shelves of good old Borders when I was in high school (many years ago now), I stumbled upon a wonderful book called Daughter of the Forest. This was the first novel by Juliet Marillier, and my first introduction into the ancient Irish world of Sevenwaters. The Sevenwaters series begins with a re-rendered version of the famous fairytale, “The Six Swans,” combining love, some Celtic fact and a whole lot of magic.
The old world religion reigns strong in this small foothold on the Irish island. The sixth book, Flame of Sevenwaters, holds sturdy to the faith and reverence of nature. At the same time, it also reveals the magic that lives in the forest and within humans and fae alike. The fae world surrounds Sevenwaters and at times both protects and seeks to destroy those who dwell there.
Maeve, the leading heroine in this tale, is marked by her damaged hands and scorched temple. Her story is one of sorrow and fortitude. As a child she was disfigured by a fire after trying to save her beloved dog, who died in the flames. Believing she is doomed to spinsterhood and to be a burden on others, she struggles with returning to her family after having spent ten years with her aunt, a gifted healer who lives in Britain. Instead, she only feels useful when in the company of animals, possessing a special gift for taming the wildness within them. Through her gift, she builds strong bonds with others and embarks on a perilous mission to protect her younger brother from the evil ruler of the fae underworld. Not only have the fae stolen her brother, but also two canine companions and a horse she loves dearly. Love for her pets is her weakest and strongest gift, for it is the driving force that both endangers and saves Maeve and those she loves.
I loved being back in the world of Sevenwaters. The sixth book in the series continues the story and brings back many old characters while continuing the stories of others that were barely introduced. Marillier does not disappoint. She has created a strong female character who despite her insecurities, overcomes her unique tribulations. As an animal lover myself, I was touched by her bond with her dog Bear. Like all of Marillier’s stories, there is usually a love interest. While I kind of saw it coming, and not wanting to give too much away, I was a little disappointed with how fast it happened. I would have liked more development after all is revealed. Regardless, I cannot recommend this series enough. And if I could force people to read it I would.
–Sheilah G. Randall