Book: Wildwood Dancing
Author: Juliet Marillier
Five sisters live a quiet life with their merchant father in Transylvania. Tati is the beauty, Jena the sensible one, Paula the scholar, Iulia the butterfly, and Stela the cosseted baby of the family. But these sisters have a secret. Every full moon, they escape not only their father's house, but the entire mundane world, stepping into the world of faerie for an all-night ball with magical creatures.
Jena thinks that nothing can disturb their secure world, but things start to fall apart when their father travels abroad for his health. All of a sudden, her male cousin Cezar is forcibly taking control of her responsibilities and initiating witch hunts for the faerie creatures that cross over into their own world. As if that's not bad enough, Tati has fallen in love with Sorrow, one of the Night People that even the denizens of faerie fear. But things can always get worse . . .
As Jena fights for herself and her sisters, long-buried secrets will come to the surface, and the fallout will affect not only the five sisters, but their entire valley.
Upon closing this book, I literally clutched it to my bosom and heaved a deep sigh. This book owes more than a few storylines to the fairy-tale tradition. The villain is deliciously hateable and the touches of magic and mysticism aren't overdone. Meanwhile, sensible, courageous Jena anchors everything in reality and humanity.
I was actually quite glad that Marillier added a second love story to that of Tati and Sorrow, who were sweet in a Romeo and Juliet kind of way, but not enough to get my emotions involved. Maybe I'm an evil troll, but I don't believe in love at first sight. Jena and her beloved (psh, like I'm gonna tell you who it is! Read the book!) have to fight their own demons to win each other.
Marillier weaves multiple fairy tales and fairy-tale traditions together in a lush tale of secrets and lies conquered by the truest thing of all, love.
PS I just found out there's a sequel, Cybele's Secret, which will be available in the States in September '08. It features Jena's scholarly younger sister, Paula. Eee!