Wildwood Dancing (Wildwood, #1) Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

What really stands out in this fairy tale inspired fantasy are the setting – Transylvania, sometime in the past – and the weaving in of various stories. Marillier uses not only the obvious Twelve Dancing Princesses story, but also regional folk tales and the odd bit of extra fairy tales (to tell which ones would be giving away a plot point). I’ve always been a sucker for those dancing princesses, and here there is plenty of backstory offered on where they go and why. How did they come to be able to pass through to this other realm? What are the true consequences of going? All of these fantasy elements are tightly linked to the setting, which becomes almost another character.

I was less enthusiastic about the characters – smart and determined Jena narrates the story, but she never quite jumped off the page. The frog, Gogu, was probably my favorite character. Several long, expositional conversations/arguments slow things down a bit, but otherwise this is a great pick for fairy tale enthusiasts. I’d recommend it for strong middle school readers and up.

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