Wildwood Dancing is a very interesting blend of several different fairytales and folklore: the seven dancing princesses, the princess and the frog, stories of vampires and fairies. I love fairytale retellings, and it was interesting to see the way these were all put together in a reasonably historical framework, in Romania — with strong touches of realism, when the girls were going about their ordinary lives.
Unfortunately, for me, there was something all too predictable about it. I’d answered all the questions long before the narrator, Jena, even thought to ask them. I knew the identity of Gogu, and what Cezar had done, and what would happen to Costi… At some point, I’ve read a book very like this, or enough books that were like this to tie them all together and make an Ur-Wildwood Dancing in my head! That made it rather less fun for me, since I knew how it would all go and I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, constantly.
With that in mind, I’m not sure how much I actually enjoyed reading it. Everything just seemed so familiar — and I’m absolutely positive I haven’t read it before. If you enjoy fairytale retellings, I think it’s worth a try, and I haven’t been put off Juliet Marillier entirely: I’m going to read Cybele’s Secret, at least, which is the sequel to this. I’m told the narrator is one of the sisters from this story, but not Jena. I wanted more depth in Paula, Iulia and Stela, so perhaps Cybele’s Secret will provide. If not, I’ll give one of her other books from a different series a try, and then perhaps give it up if that doesn’t work out… I really want to like what Marillier does — and in some ways, her work reminds me of Robin McKinley’s: that was a part of the familiarity I had with the writing, I think — but this was just too, too predictable for me.