I admit it did take me three tries to actually get into Wildwood Dancing, but in the end it was worth it. I first tried it and got to page 2. On the second try, I got to page 9. On the third try, I finally ended up getting through the book! 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Published in 2006
4 out of 5 stars
Summary from Goodreads: High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It's an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle's hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he's there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena's sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom--an impossible union it's up to Jena to stop.
When Cezar's grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can't imagine--tests of trust, strength, and true love.
What really convinced me to finally start reading through Wildwood Dancing was the unique plot. It wasn't really a retelling of a specific fairy tale; it was more a mix of many fairy tales and then mixed in with some more imagination to get a totally unique plot. The plot was definitely really interesting, consisting of Night People (vampires), a frog, a really annoying Cezar and true love. Of course, you have to remember that a mix of plots can be a little confusing as well. It was hard for me to keep everything straight at times. It felt as if I was being bogged down a multiple amount of mini plots that could not connect. I couldn't find the most important plot out of it all.
Jenna, however, was really a well-defined character. Strong, brave, smart and bold, she was definitely a great character! I liked how she remained strong even through all the tragedies and dramatic events that happened. It's one thing to be strong, but it's another thing to stay so. I was very happy with Jenna! She was created well enough to be flawed enough, but not flawed to the point of annoying. I greatly love how relatable she was; every choice she made made sense and was clear.
The writing style was a little more flowery that I'm typically accustomed to, but it was still tolerable. I quickly got used to the elegant descriptions and that old feel of it all. While it was not normal, it was not annoying. The writing style was actually quite enjoyable after a bit. Totally worth the effort of three tries!
Another thing I loved was the setting. While the names are definitely hard to pronouce and write and spell, I loved it anyways! (I didn't see the glossary until I finished the book....) I could visualize all of the castle and the woods and the lake! It was pure magic! I loved how I could be lured by the descriptions to imagine exactly what it looked like. Normally when that happens, I push it away because it's a nuisance. However, with Wildwood Dancing, nothing is normal. Therefore I loved being able to see every single detail in my mind!