Juliet Marillier

Dear Juliet,

I was eleven years old when I stumbled upon a display at my local library that contained both Daughter of the Forest and the newly published Son of the Shadows. At the time my reading palate consisted entirely of Harry Potter and historical romance novels. And yes, I do mean romance novels. Like the really bad kind, the kind that my friends and I would read out loud to each other as we hid under the blankets with a flashlight at sleepovers because we couldn’t get over how gross and silly it all sounded. I can’t say what initially drew me to Daughter of the Forest, but I do know that I ended up picking both of the books up because there was a review from the Romantic Times on the book which praised it as being “surprisingly romantic.” I can’t know my eleven year old mind, not entirely, but I can be certain that this review is the reason I decided to give your books a shot.

At 3 am that same night I was awake in my bedroom, pacing back and forth, talking myself through everything that had happened, everything that could happen, and wondering how in the world Daughter of the Forest could possibly have a happy ending and why anyone would call it romantic. Earlier in the day I’d been deeply traumatized by early events in the book but had persevered with that promise of romance, and had somehow become so entirely engrossed in the tale that it wasn’t until the infamous burning day that it even occurred to me that I might not actually be reading a romance novel.  

The sleep I lost that night finishing Sorcha’s journey was absolutely worth it, and I ordered the soon-to-be-published Child of the Prophecy before I even started Son of the Shadows. Since then I have been an avid follower of yours, pre-ordering each book as soon as the pre-order becomes available, and even ordering some books (such as Foxmask) from Australia since the US edition would be released nearly a year after its Australian counterpart.

Daughter of the Forest is the first book, aside from Harry Potter, that I absolutely lost myself in. It sparked my love of the fantasy genre and encouraged me to broaden my reading and writing horizons. But what always gets me about it (and most of your books, honestly), is that no matter how many times I read it I still have the same overwhelming tide of emotions that absolutely stunned eleven-year-old me. My first copy of Daughter of the Forest is filled with post-it notes and the cover on it has long since fallen off from fifteen years of love and avid use. When I read it again several months ago, for what is likely the 500th time, I still cried at some of my favorite parts, still felt that intense need to finish it, to see the story through, to find out what happens next even though I could probably quote the thing line-by-line at this point.

Sorcha and her story marked the beginning of a lot of things for me, and I love that she was the beginning of your writing journey as well. Thank you so much for bringing her to the world, and to my world. Thank you for years of intense love and joy, and for every story you’ve written since then. I never hesitate to name you as my favorite author, and I am grateful every day for that one Romantic Times review which brought you to my life.

Many thanks and all the love,
Rebecca (aka your actual biggest fan)

Tell Me Again, Please!

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

 

 

 

It is no real secret that we as a culture have a weakness for fairy tales and their retellings. The overwhelming success of Disney alone is a testament to how much we love to hear familiar stories told in a slightly different way. Indeed Disney does not only retell classic fairy tales, but they sometimes even retell their own–think of the strikingly different stories contained in Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, both Disney films, based on the same fairy tale.

The universal appeal of fairy tales and folktales is not such a difficult thing to understand; they are defined by simple and easily accessible motifs that echo deep truths about the human condition. And because fairy tales and folktales were originally passed down orally, the idea of editing and changing the story with each telling is, well, a tale as old as time in some respects. This is what makes me such great fodder for modern stories; indeed it has become its own literary genre, and an incredible number of recent buzz-worthy and bestselling books fall into it.

Think Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle, or Gregory Maquire’s Wicked (which has since been re-told again as a highly popular musical – isn’t this fun?). And because fairy tales and folktales tend to involve magic or other elements of the uncanny, novelized retellings tend to fall into the fantasy genre (or, with some of the really creative ones, the sci-fi genre). In this post I’ll be taking a look at three approaches to the retelling genre and focusing on two books in each (with the exception of the four book series in category three) and thinking about what works and what doesn’t.

This discussion will not contain plot spoilers, but if you happen to feel like maybe you don’t want to know anything at all about the books before you read them (which is hard because they are, you know, fairy tale retelling so…. you probably already know the basic story) this may not be the post for you!

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