Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Review by Natalie, regular contributor
From the very beginning, "Wildwood Dancing" kept me absolutely captivated. There is such imagery and beautiful language and authentic names and places and folklore – and it fulfilled every hope I had for it!
"Wildwood Dancing" is a loose retelling of several fairy tales, including The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Frog Prince, and Dragutsa, also realistically incorporates such elements as the fairy court and vampires. It follows the point of view of Jena, second-oldest daughter of a frail widower who is about to leave the family in the care of an old family friend as he goes away to better his health. Jena has a secret – every Full Moon, she and her sisters go to the fairy realm to dance and play with all the mythical creatures there. But their innocent revelry is about to end, as forces collide and the fate of all is in question.
My favorite aspect of this book was the attention to detail Juliet Marillier used. She employed authentic names and places and folklore to make this seem as though it really could have happened in Romania. I also felt she didn’t impose too much of the twenty-first century on Jena – so often, readers are stopped cold by an attitude that just wouldn’t exist at that time, and while Jena and her sisters have somewhat unconventional views, I never felt they were too out of place for the time period. Jena is forward-thinking, but also bows to tradition in a lot of ways.
I would recommend this book to anyone! It is certainly most appropriate for teenage readers and up, but even older children can appreciate the suspense and unmasking that goes on in this story. There are vampires (a.k.a. "Night People"), but the subject is touched upon so delicately that I feel confident people of all ages can enjoy "Wildwood Dancing".