The saga that began with Sorcha and her brothers in Daughter of the Forest, continued with Sorcha’s daughter Liadan in Son of the Shadows, and completed by the otherwordly cousin Fianne in Child of the Prophecy has now been revived. Clodagh, Liadan’s niece, is preparing for her twin sister’s wedding and the birth of a new baby to her aged mother, Aisling. Her time is taken up with household duties, worry for her mother, and the attentions of Aidan, a handsome warrior of Inis Eala. Her only real annoyance is the antics of Cathal, another Inis Eala warrior with abysmal manners and a mocking demeanor. For reasons unknown to her, Cathal and Aidan are extremely close friends despite their apparent disparate natures. That is, at least, until Cathal starts pulling Clodagh aside and giving her dire warnings about Aidan and about the future of her family and their holdings.
For as far back as memory reaches the land of Sevenwaters has been protected by the Tuatha De Dannan, the Fair Folk, in exchange for the protection any chieftain of Sevenwaters gives to the ancient oak forest that is their sanctuary. It is assumed that this goodwill persists…until the newest Sevenwaters baby disappears and a changeling is left in his place, the estate at Glencarnagh is burned to the ground, and the mysterious Cathal disappears just before all hell broke loose. Now Clodagh must seek out the Otherworld to return the changeling and retrieve her baby brother, having absolutely no idea how she might achieve her objective. It doesn’t take long for her to realize that nothing is as it seems, and her quest will be much more difficult and heart-wrenching than she ever imagined.
I first read the Sevenwaters Trilogy (named above) about four years ago. From the start I was absolutely hooked on these books that are set in Ireland in the time of the Druids and are carved out of ancient Irish lore and traditional fairy tales. As I finished reading Child of the Prophecy while I was in the hospital for my son’s birth, I breathed a sigh of disappointment that this series was now over. Imagine my astonishment when, on a recent foray into the local library, I happened upon Heir to Sevenwaters.
After Daughter of the Forest the direct ties to fairy tales kind of died out, though ancient lore came up in various facets of the other books. In Heir to Sevenwaters that tie to tales and lore is renewed as the heroine finds herself face-to-face with the legendary Mac Dara, the trickster and dark prince of the Fair Folk. I must confess that I devoured this book with all the eagerness I had when first discovering the series.
Juliet Marillier is an excellent fairy tale, though fairly predictable at times. Even though I had guessed the eventual ending of this book within 50 pages of the beginning, though, I couldn’t guess at the way in which that ending would come about. Perhaps that is the main appeal of Marillier’s tales is that the components of the story are rarely predictable even if the story line itself is. The writing style is quite engaging and keeps the reader eager to know what happens next. Once the tale heats up there is very little inaction through to the end.
One feature I have always appreciated in the Sevenwaters books is the pronunciation guide at the beginning of each one. Many of the names used are not well-known in much of the world and it is a great help to know how each is supposed to sound. In addition, Marillier furnishes a Sevenwaters family tree so people can easily track how each person in the story is related to their favorite characters from previous books.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the Sevenwaters Trilogy this is a must-read. I don’t know if any other books exist in the Sevenwaters saga aside from these four, but I know that for myself the series has not gone stagnant and more stories are certainly welcome. Fantasy readers everywhere may find some compelling material in these books, and I highly recommend all of these books as well as this talented author.