cover image Daughter of the Forest

Daughter of the Forest

Juliet Marillier. Tor Books, $25.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-84879-8

This imaginative retelling of the Celtic Swans myth begins a promising new British romantic fantasy series. Six brothers have been turned into swans by their wicked stepmother. Only their sister, Sorcha, can save these sons of an Irish chieftain by weaving magical shirts that will turn them back into human beings. As she begins her task in the forest, she is raped and forced to flee. British nobleman Hugh of Harrowfield rescues her from the attacker while on a search for his missing brother, Simon, whose life Sorcha has saved earlier. Unfortunately, Sorcha can't reveal to Hugh her role in helping Simon, for she has had to take an oath of silence until she completes the shirts. When she marries Hugh, she assumes a new identity as ""Jenny"" so that she can return to England. Once there, however, she is thrust into a deadly power struggle among Hugh and his allies; his mother, Anne; and Hugh's wicked uncle, Richard of Northwoods--and she narrowly escapes being burned at the stake for witchcraft and treason. Though the novel features a stereotypically happy ending and leans more toward romance than fantasy, Marillier is a fine folklorist and a gifted narrator who has created a wholly appealing and powerful character in this daughter of the forest. (May)