Sarah's Stars

Juliet Marillier. Wildwood Dancing
Knopf  $22.99  ISBN 978-0-375-83364-9  407 pg.
Reviewed by Meghan, Age 15

The first time we had done this, in our earliest days at Piscul Dracului – when I was only six, and Stela was not yet born – Tati and I had been amusing the younger ones by making shadow creatures on the wall: rabbits, dogs, bats. At the moment when all our hands had been raised at once to throw a particular image on the stones, we had found our forest’s hidden world. Whether it had been chance or a gift, we had never been sure. It made no difference that we had done this over and over. The sense of thrilling strangeness had never gone away. Every Full Moon, our bodies tingled with the magic of it. The lamp shone on the blank wall. One by one, we stretched out our hands, and the lantern light threw the silhouettes onto the stones. One by one, we spoke our names in a breathless whisper.

“Tatiana”

“Jenica”

“Iulia”

“Paula”

Stela

Between the shadows of our outstretched fingers, a five-pointed star appeared. The portal opened.

Tatiana, Jenica, Iulia, Paula and Stela: five sisters who were raised by their father, and two servants, on a lonely farm in Romania.  Every month at the full moon they escape into the world of the Other Kingdom. It’s an exotic, exciting place; a fairy court filled with carefree revelers. For five lonely girls, the Dancing Glade provides all the friends and entertainment they could ever want. It’s been nine years since the sisters discovered the portal and suddenly things seem to be going wrong. It all begins when their father becomes ill and is forced to go away. Then the Night People come to visit the Dancing Glade, bringing with them mystery and danger. Then power hungry cousin Cezar, who is intent on control and Jena, takes over the farm. In both of the girls’ worlds, danger lurks at every turn. In a journey fraught with love and danger, truth and lies, the girls will have to rely on their wits and each other if they are to survive and keep hope, love, and Piscul Dracului, alive.

Juliet Marillier has been delighting the fantasy community for years and her latest book doesn’t disappoint. Her previous novels have won the Alex Award for Best Adult Novel for Teens from the American Library Association and the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Her writing is simple and clear, but extremely entertaining. It just reaches out to you, grabs you by the heart and pulls you in. It’s hard to get back out. The characters are realistic and completely lovable. And there’s that fascinating quality of doubt about everyone. Is he really evil? Can I really trust him? It makes it so much more wonderful and suspenseful to read. Juliet Marillier has created a fantasy classic.

As soon as I started Wildwood Dancing I could barely put it down. I stayed up too late reading one night, read all through lunch the next day and almost started crying in English class when I finally finished it. It was simply a beautiful story, I can’t think of any other way to put it. If you are a lover of fantasy, of stories that are bittersweet and end in true love conquering, then look no further, this is a story for you. Take the twelve dancing princesses, the frog prince and a dash of Romanian charm, mix it together and you have Wildwood Dancing. I would recommend Wildwood Dancing for girls 13 and older, women and fantasy lovers alike.

I give Wildwood Dancing five stars, but honestly, I’d give it more if I could.

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