Cover Beauty Score: 5 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 4 out of 5
Plot Blurb: Sorcha is a young girl who lives in medieval Ireland, during a time when magic and the Fae Folk are still alive and well for the people of Erin. As the seventh daughter of a seventh son, she has always felt a disappointment, although she finds solace in her connection with the spirits of the earth and in her talents as a healer. When her father remarries a mysterious and evil woman, Sorcha and her six brothers are targeted by the woman and she turns all six brothers into swans. Sorcha is told by the Fae that in order to break this curse, she must complete seemingly impossible tasks and travel a path that will be the most difficult of them all.
My Reaction: This book, though. I can't even begin to describe the emotional roller coaster of this thing. I read this book because I thought it was in the YA category, although as I began to read I realized this was really a more classical fantasy than anything else. Despite Sorcha's initial age of 14, the book spans across 4-5 years so she the reader is able to see her mature and grow.
Speaking of growth, let's talk about the character development in this one. Out of this world. There is not a character who does not alter irrevocably throughout this tale. Marillier does an excellent job of plotting out the ways her characters will change on their journeys, particularly Sorcha. Once sheltered and naive, she is forced out of her comfort zone in the worst way imaginable and given some of the most horrendous hurdles to cross. My heart would break for her with each new challenge she faced. As she was given the task of remaining mute until her other tasks were complete, there were parts where as the reader I felt as though I should be just as silent. Her struggles transferred to me, as though I could help her somehow from my end.
That, my friends, is good writing.
And in regards to the writing as a whole, it was excellently done. Marillier obviously knows what she's doing with her words, weaving a tale that felt as reverent as the original Grimm stories. The writing flowed well with great dialogue, although due to the nature of Sorcha's task, there was understandably a lot of internal monologue. The nature of classic fantasy is that the story is long and in depth, which at times I found difficult to get through. The suspense was too much for me to remain patient enough to read a four page description of something. It was torture!
But should we touch on the love triangle here? We all know I despise love triangles... I was not a big fan of the one here, honestly. I didn't see it coming, and once our second hero Red was introduced, I knew he had to be the true choice for Sorcha. Simon would have been good for her, before her trials, but they grew in ways that took them away from their path together. This part was, perhaps, the most difficult for me. I did not feel as though Simon was given enough of a story - enough closure.
So we come to the part where I say this was a great book. However, upon finishing it I am reminded why I stay away from traditional fantasy. I read books to live in worlds that I would enjoy living in. The world in which Sorcha inhabits was dark and difficult and devoid of much laughter. I appreciate her journey and am still in awe of the tribulations she was forced to face, but I would not want to share this journey with her. Ever.
And so I will move on to something happier with my next book choice. Preferably something with less death. And heartache. And general emo-ness.