I’ve heard it said that girls can’t keep secrets. That’s wrong: we’ve proved it. We’ve kept ours for years and years, ever since we came to Piscul Dracului and stumbled on the way into the Other Kingdom…We’d been going out and coming in nearly every month since then: nine whole years of Full Moons.
-Excerpt from Wildwood Dancing
by Juliet Marillier
Nine years ago, Jenica and her four sisters discovered the portal into the Other Kingdom, a place of magic, danger and mystery which exists at the edges of the Transylvanian town they live in. Their home, a crumbling castle called Piscul Dracului, is perched on the edges of the myth-ridden Wildwood, and is rumored to be as full of magic as the trees it lies on the skirts of.
In this, the tales are true. Every Full Moon, a portal opens there for Jena and her sisters which brings them to a midnight world of perilous magic and strange creatures, and Dancing Glade, where they spend the night among beings told of in whispered legends, as full of magic as the Wildwood itself. It’s always been dangerous—but one night, when the Night People, subjects of many dark and terrible stories, appear, it becomes much more so. Especially as one of them appears to take a particular interest in Jena’s elder sister.
As the Night People make the visits to Dancing Glade more perilous, the world Jena returns to after each monthly escapade into the Wildwood is growing worse and worse as well. Jena’s father, a merchant, has grown deeply ill, and he leaves Jena and her sisters in the care of their tyrannical cousin, Cezar, who is intent to destroy the Wildwood in revenge for his brother’s death years before, and constrict the sisters’ independence as much as possible. As both the Other Kingdom and the land Jena and her sisters inhabit grow more dangerous, she must confront those in both worlds if she is to protect not only the Wildwood, but the freedom of her and her sisters.
Deeply based in both Transylvanian folklore and the fairytale ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’, Wildwood Dancing is a story full of mystery and magic. Juliet Marillier’s writing effortlessly conjures a fairytale-like feeling, and the strange and dangerous setting of the Wildwood, which feels very real. Jena and her sisters are very interesting and multifaceted characters, especially Jena—I love her determination, stubborn nature, and protectiveness of her sisters. There is some romance in it, which is the major reason we've categorized this book as young adult. Overall, I recommend Wildwood Dancing to readers ages twelve and up.