The enchanted world of Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is one of the few writers I’m unconditional about, such a as Barbara Erskine or Carlos Ruiz Zafon. There are of course other writers I love, or rather writers who have written some of my favourite books, such as “1984” (George Orwell), “Brave New World” (Aldous Huxley), “Love in the time of cholera” (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), and also authors whose books I have faithfully read for a time such as Isabel Allende, and lately Mario Vargas Llosa…and then of course there are the “classics” of literature, an absolute pleasure to read, such as our own Eça de Queiroz, or Balzac and Zola… I have read them all, and so many more that I cannot remember, and my love of reading has grown throughout my life.

As a young girl I read practically everything, from the classics to books about UFOs and extraterrestrial life; then I became addicted to History books and historical novels.   And also to fantasy fiction, like “The Lord of the Rings” and the several volumes of ” The song of ice and fire ” (better known as “The game of thrones”), where you get and irresistible mix of medieval settings and phantasmagorical events that contribute to make irresistible stories.

I remember how fascinated I was with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s new outlook on the Arthurian legends and then, years after, the first book by Juliet Marillier I read, “Daughter of the forest” of the Sevenwaters series also made me travel to an enchanted world of green forests, great loves, magical creatures and brave heroes. But above all, a world of strong women who would never falter in their fight against evil and in the pursuit of their goals. All of this in an Ireland of “ancient times”.

Juliet Marillier bases most of her stories in the rich and beautiful legends of the Irish folklore. “Daughter of the forest” tells the amazing story of seven brothers and a sister who are cursed by their evil stepmother, who casts a terrible spell on the boys turning them into swans. The sister will suffer many hardships until she can finally help her brothers return to their human form, and Marillier takes us through this adventure in such a compelling way that you cannot stop reading. But then, when you realize you are about to reach the end you want to go slower, to delay the terrible moment when you will have no more amazing pages ahead of you, the moment when you’ll have to leave that magical, mysterious world where humans and fairies still live side by side…or almost, as the world of magical beings is always shown as a sort of “underworld”, and there is always the idea that humans must be wary of them as they enjoy playing tricks…such as making humans disappear in their world in what seems like a few hours and then return them to their own when one hundred years have lapsed and everyone they know has died long, long ago…

After that book I went on reading her books. First the Sevenwaters saga, and then others such as the two books of the Wildwood series, different from the others as they are set in a different setting, one in Transylvania and the other in Istanbul – but the same magic is definitely there! I read the first books in Portuguese but soon I had to start buying them in English as they were not translated yet. Actually, I much prefer reading the original versions, so for some time now, like many fans I suppose, I eagerly wait for Amazon to display her next book and as soon as it appears I put it on my wish list and patiently wait for it to be released (I also do this with Zafon and Erskine). So imagine how happy I was when the other day, after having read the last volume of the Blackthorn and Grim trilogy (Marillier at her best, to say the least, in all the three books but maybe never better than when she tells the story of the monster in the lonely tower in book two) and philosophically accepting the fact that I would have to wait for some time until her next publication, I suddenly glimpsed not one, but two books by her on my “unread books” shelf! They had been there for so long, and behind some others, that I had completely forgotten about them! They are the second and third book of the Bridei chronicles, respectively “TheBlade of Fortriu” and “The Well of Shades”. I had bought them back in 2006 when I read the first – and enjoyed it – and for some unknown reason left the other two…

So once again I dived into her magical, mystical world. Sometimes I find it hard to wait until I have a free moment to grab the book and follow Bridei, now a king, his wife Tuala, but most of all the indescribably beautiful love story ( or should I say stories?) that unravels through the pages where you alternatively find the kind hearted, the evil doers, the magical creatures (always!), the unfriendly forests, the harsh northern weather ( incidentally, this saga is located in what is the north of Scotland today, the land of the Picts) but also lessons of righteousness and extreme bravery, of how friends may turn into foes and true love ultimately conquers all.

So there you are. I have finished the second book and I’ll dive straight into the third one, and then, only then, will I have to wait patiently for her next release, peeping on Amazon from time to time hoping that a new wonderful book will soon be coming…

My huge thanks to Juliet Marillier for all the magic she has brought into my life. For all the moments of time and space travelling to those otherwise unattainable worlds – if not for her books. Her stories have filled my imagination and made for hours of delightful escape from reality – and she writes in such a compelling way that we are really transported to distant shores and green forests and great castle halls where kings and tribal chiefs forge improbable alliances, where star-crossed lovers finally fall into each other’s arms and are free to live their love for each other.

When you read a book by Juliet Marillier you soon discover there are no boundaries for her imagination, and you will follow the fantasy. Even the book covers are beautiful, exquisitely designed and holding great promise of what is inside. And you’ll never be disappointed. In this crazy world we live in, sometimes you just need to believe there are other, magical worlds out there – and the gate to these worlds is certainly in Juliet Marillier’s wonderful books. Just open the first page and you’ll know what I mean.