Wildwood Dancing & Cybele’s Secret – Juliet Marillier
I am a huge fan of Marillier. And I have been since her first book came out in ’99. She combines my two favorite genres, which are fantasy and history, and always weaves a magical and educating tale. I read Wildwood Dancing a couple years ago and finally got around to reading Cybele’s Secret this month. A huge time gap, but I felt it was worth reviewing both because it was easy to pick back up and enter the world of Transylvania where five sisters grow up near a portal to the Other Kingdom. The Other Kingdom being that magical place where many of us fantasy geeks all long to fall prey to. Where old world deities, fae, and all manner of magical folk dwell.
In Wildwood Dancing, the book takes place in Transylvania and is the first book of the two book series. The sisters often sneak out and enter the Other Kingdom for dancing and merriment. The fae world always likes to meddle in humans’ lives and in both stories this is a constant. In Cybele’s Secret, the story revolves around only one of the five sisters, Paula, who takes a business trip with her father to Istanbul.
Marillier often has running themes in many of her books. You can usually count on there being a love story and a magical component of some sort. In addition, the Other Kingdom is usually lurking around waiting to set tests and challenges for the mortals that are meant to better them and help the mortals mature and find themselves. They often are historically researched as well for consistency because many of her stories deal with certain time periods and various cultures, like ancient Celts, Norse, or in this case ancient Turkish society.
If you enjoy romance, magic and danger then these books are probably for you. I am a bit biased with this author and have a hard time ever saying anything negative. She truly is a master at her craft and you will be enthralled and captured by her storytelling. I recommend not reading it right after a break up though, because it may make you a bit sour.
Wildwood Dancing – 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.
Cybele’s Secret – FOR PAULA, ACCOMPANYING her merchant father on a trading voyage to Istanbul is a dream come true. They have come to this city of trade on a special mission to purchase a most rare artifact—a gift from the ancient goddess, Cybele, to her followers. It’ s the only remnant of a lost, pagan cult.
But no sooner have they arrived when it becomes clear they may be playing at a dangerous game. A colleague and friend of Paula’s father is found murdered. There are rumors of Cybele’s cult reviving within the very walls of Istanbul. And most telling of all, signs have begun to appear to Paula, urging her to unlock Cybele’s secret.
Meanwhile, Paula doesn’t know who she can trust in Istanbul, and finds herself drawn to two very different men. As time begins to run out, Paula realizes they may all be tied up in the destiny of Cybele’ s Gift, and she must solve the puzzle before unknown but deadly enemies catch up to her. . . .
Full of romance, danger, magic, and suspense, this is a story to excite the most adventurous spirit.
Check out the author’s website here.