Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I think the aspect of this book that most aptly sums up my feelings about it is the fact that the main character’s older sister spends about half of the novel literally dying because she’s so in love with a sadboi Changeling. The only characters I remotely enjoyed in this novel were Jena (and then only sometimes) and her bookish sister Paula. Jena, the protagonist, divides her time between being clever and sensible and so utterly thickheaded that it amazes me she is the same character who I had just watched balancing account ledgers and spiritedly sparring with her nasty cousin Cezar.

The story is a loose retelling of two fairy tales, The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince set in 16th(?) century Transylvania. It very much reflects the time, with Jena and her sisters fighting for freedom against their cousin who has very limited patience for women’s rights (to put it nicely). Cezar was a dick, and while he lost out in the end it wasn’t quite as satisfying as I was hoping.

The novel in general just felt like a lot of expectations fallen short. I was most interested in the parts the sisters spent in the enchanted fairy realm, and even then the most fascinating part (to me), the garden of gargoyles, was only a passing detail.

Also, I just plain hate incest plotlines. It would have been nice for the protagonist to end up with ANYONE other than her cousin. Eugh.

Published by Emma Wolfe

My name is Emma, and I am a Clinical Psychology PhD hopeful doing research in Boston. In my spare time, I am also a book reviewer and blogger. I specialize in science fiction and fantasy, but enjoy genre-bending literature of all kinds. I am also an amateur creative writer; my work has been published in national undergraduate literary magazines such as The Albion Review and the Allegheny Review.

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