I’ve been doing a lot more reading than normal lately. I’m afraid it had become a twenty-minutes-before-sleep habit and rarely happened any other time. Since I joined a critique group, I’ve just not found reading as enjoyable. But of late I’ve been picking up a book more frequently. Why? Because I found a book that grabbed my attention and I didn’t want to put it down.
‘Daughter of the Forest’ by Juliet Marillier (coincidentally a fellow West Australian) had every reason to fail my reading test. Firstly, it is written in the first person, my least favourite point of view (apart from second person, which makes no sense to me at all). Secondly, it has a female main character. For some reason I always prefer main characters to be male. I’ve no idea why, I just do. Then there was the fact that it’s a thick book and the first part of a trilogy. At my rate of reading, I’d still be going after Christmas. That's not to mention the fact that for the past month I've had to work full-time instead of part-time, so I've had even less free time for myself.
So what made this book so special that I changed my reading habits? In short, the characters. They are so well written and move the story along so smoothly, that it's hard to go away from them. The main character, Sorcha, a young girl given a seemingly impossible task, is vulnerable yet strong. She’s not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she really makes the reader want to know if she’ll succeed. Remarkably, for most of the book she can’t speak, but still she manages to communicate well with the other characters.
Another strong point with the book is that the secondary characters are all just as well-written and three dimensional. Sorcha has six brothers and each one is a clear-cut character. Even the most minor of characters is drawn with decisive strokes and stand out clearly. I found myself gripped by the relationships that unfolded through the story.
There’s a strong mix of magic and romance in the story. The description is rich, but there is never any unnecessary explanation. You're always given just enough information to keep you interested, but never so much that you feel patronised. The plot twists and turns and keeps you on your toes. It’s strong writing. For a first novel, I think it’s brilliant and I’d love to be able to write so well.
Now, I must go. I’m half way through the sequel, ‘Son of the Shadows’ and it’s just got really interesting again.