The Families of the Sevenwaters Series
Recently, I’ve been wrapped up in the fantastical Ireland of Juliet Marillier’s imagining. Her Sevenwaters book series has it all: mystical legends, adventure, romance, complex villains, and wonderful, strong viewpoint female characters. The books revolve primarily around the main family of Sevenwaters — starting with Colum’s children in the first novel and moving on down the generations. The depiction of the sibling bonds, the love of mothers and fathers for children and vice versa, even the care given by uncles, aunts, and cousins is so beautifully complex that I decided to choose this family as my favorite. The stories are set in a time when it went without saying that family came first, and the trials that each of the daughters of the line have to endure to keep their kinfolk alive and happy test their mettle to the fullest.
The first novel, Daughter of the Forest, is a retelling of the German fairy tale “The Six Swans” (also known as “The Swan Princess”) and for those who know the story, the “Princess” of the title is forced to remain silent for years, sewing shirts out of a painful plant to lift a curse placed on her brothers. Author Marillier has cast Sorcha as that princess and the descriptions of what she has to live through, all while keeping an unwavering devotion to her brothers and her family through persecution and distrust, are inspiring and powerful. The later novels follow Sorcha’s descendants and through it all the core of family remains. A father listens to counsel from his daughter, a husband respects his wife’s autonomy, twins share a mental bond throughout the years, a girl risks everything to rescue her sister, and on and on. They make mistakes, to be sure – they distrust when they should believe, and make choices that hurt rather than help. But the essence of the family remains. Though the books are set in ancient Celtic times, the characters feel as real and multifaceted as if they were in the present. And they make you want to be a part of their lives, surrounding by kin who love and cherish you throughout time.