Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wildwood Dancing

Wildwood Dancing was written by Juliet Marillier and published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2007. Link to the publisher page for this book is in the title above. This is an amalgamation of Eastern European fairytales set in Romania during the nineteenth century. I know I've forgotten one or two tales Ms. Mariller refers to, but the ones I recognized while reading WD are: 12 Dancing Princesses, the Frog Prince and Baba Yaga. Like other works in Ms. Mariller's backlist, WD features strong young women on the cusp of adulthood. WD is a young adult fantasy.

Five sisters: Tatiana, Jenica, Paula, Iulia and Stela live in a derelict castle in the Romanian countryside with their widower father and a few elderly servants. Their father is seriously ill with what appears to be a lung infection and must spend the winter at the seaside. Leaving the girls alone at the castle with only their uncle and an older male cousin to turn to for help should they need it. As soon as father leaves odd and sinister events happen. The uncle is killed in an hunting accident (but was it really?), leaving the girls at the mercy of their cousin-a greedy, deliberately intimidating older teen who belittles and bullies his cousins. Their father is out of touch- deliberately perhaps?

Like the best traditional fairytales, before they were judged "too violent" and subsequently rewritten, Wildwood Dancing is full of menace and threats. Yet it also lovingly depicts a close and loving family who care for each other and those they are responsible for. Will Tati and Jena make peace over Sorrow? Will their cousin spoil it all? Who killed the dwarf and the young lady down in the village? Why doesn't their father reply to Jena's letters? Who fixed the fence? Will Jena and Gogu figure it all out before it's too late??

No comments: