This book is the last in the Sevenwaters trilogy and features an entirely different sort of heroine than the first two did. Both Sorcha and Liadan were quiet, efficient, almost ethereal, healers, with extraordinary resolve and capabilities. In contrast, this book’s heroine is Fainne, a sorceress who has yet to develop such strengths, and spends much of the book confused and conflicted. In another change, this book does not revolve around romance, but around friendship and family instead. The romance is there, but very subdued and with no positive moments. It is Fainne’s love for her father and for her new family which inspires her, as well as her potential romantic partner, who is for the most part her friend.
In this book, the focus is on completing the prophecy largely introduced in Son of the Shadows. Fainne is an essential part of the story, as it is in her power to maintain or destroy the child of the prophecy, Johnny. She is watched at every moment to make sure that she does not fail in her task.
As a result, this book is depressing, with no light moments from beginning to end. Fainne is constantly struggling due to various circumstances around her, but worst of all, it’s hard to care for her. She is strong, but she does commit some horrible crimes, without receiving much blame for them. She pushes away those she loves, frustrating the reader because she never gets a break and never lets anyone in.
The entire trilogy is very well-written, but I think this is actually the weakest link. The fairy tale sense is completely gone, as is the feel of destiny; even though everything is still governed by the prophecy, it can be changed by human interaction. Perhaps this is because Fainne herself is a sorceress and thus has more control over these things. Moreover, there is even less sense of a right, true love in the romance department; Sorcha and Red felt destined to be together, and Liadan and Bran were similarly fated. Fainne’s love is less constant and much less moving, even though she denies it every step of the way. It is easy to see where it has come from, but it just didn’t touch me.
What I did like is the surprise at the end, which ensures that the book’s conclusion is not one that the reader is looking for. It was a welcome plot twist and I didn’t see it coming, which I always appreciate.
Overall, Daughter of the Forest is by far the best in Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters trilogy. This book is also a decent read, if only to finish the story, but do not expect it, or the one before it, to match the wonderful, fairy-tale feel of the first.