Jun 17, 2012
Why It Works: Daughter of the Forest
Here is how it starts:
Three children lay on the rocks at water's edge. A dark-haired little girl. Two boys, slightly older. This image is caught forever in my memory, like some fragile creature preserved in amber. Myself, my brothers. I remember the way the water rippled as I trailed my fingers across its surface.
"Don't lean over so far, Sorcha," said Padraic. "You might fall in."
He was a year older than me and made the most of what little authority this gave him. You could understand, I suppose. After all, there were six brothers altogether and five of them were older than he was.
I ignored him, reaching down into the mysterious depths.
"She might fall in, mightn't she, Finbar?"
A long silence. As it stretched out, we both looked at Finbar, who lay on his back ,full length on the warm rock. Not sleeping: his eyes reflected the open grey of the autumnal sky. His hair spread out on the rock in a wild tangle. There was a hole in the sleeve of his jacket.
"The swans are coming," said Finbar at last. He sat up slowly to rest his chin on his knees. "They're coming tonight."
Blue: Setting - although there is little to suggest where these characters are, it's clear they're in the woods by some amount of water (river, stream, pond?). Some of this is spelled out on the cover and the blurb, but they're obviously not in a city or any crowded spot.
Pink: narrator explanation - the girl called Sorcha is telling this story as an adult.
Orange: backstory - Sorcha has six brothers and she is the youngest. Padraic is the nearest brother to her in age. From Finbar's clothes and hair, these children are either poor or not well cared for.
Yellow: character reveal: The dark-haired Sorcha doesn't listen to Padraic, who appeals to Finbar for authority. So we know that Sorcha has a mind of her own, and both she and Padraic respect Finbar.
Green: mystery/foreshadowing - Why should Finbar care that the swans are coming? It's an odd thing for a boy to say.
Notice how Marillier works in these key elements using only a few hundred words. The Sevenwaters Series was supposed to be just a trilogy, but it's been so popular, Marillier is has written five books so far.
Her sixth, Flame of Sevenwaters, comes out this November. Find out more about her here.
If you've read any of Marillier's books, share your favorite in the comments!
Have a great week,