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Heir To Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

01/04/2009. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy Heir To Sevenwaters in the USA - or Buy Heir To Sevenwaters in the UK

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pub: TOR-UK. 395 page hardback. Price: 18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-230-01789-4.

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These books are described as historical fantasy novels on the sleeve notes but really they are Romantic fantasy novels and I haven't capitalised Romantic by mistake. All Juliet Marillier's books feature true love and many, like 'Heir To Sevenwaters', have a female first person narrator who falls into that state, usually with an unexpected male.

Clodagh is the narrator here and Cathal is the male she initially dislikes. Cathal is probably the best fighter in a band of elite warriors with close ties to her father's house but from the moment he arrives there she finds him rude and abrasive, the brute. Yet beneath that rough exterior, she can just discern a heart and when her new-born brother is mysteriously kidnapped she finds herself on a quest to the Otherworld with Cathal as her companion.

Finbar was snatched from the cradle while Cathal snatched a kiss from Clodagh when she was babysitting. Cathal promptly vanished from Sevenwaters and Clodagh then insisted that the bundle of twigs left in her brother's place was actually a living thing.

No one else perceived it as such. This set of circumstances makes her father suspicious of both his daughter and the rude warrior, more so when she runs off to the forest with the bundle of twigs. She is convinced that twiggy - whom she names Becan - belongs back in the Otherworld and might be exchanged for brother Finbar with the strange creatures who rule there.

Along with true love, the Otherworld is a mainstay of Juliet Marillier's fiction, a place full of gremlins, gargoyles, goblins and several things not beginning with 'g'. There are secret gateways to the Otherworld all over our world. I have so far encountered them in Scotland, Transylvania, Turkey and Ireland. The inhabitants are mischievous, cunning, downright evil at times but often nice, too. They probably say the same about us.

Juliet Marillier's tales, once read, are almost impossible to describe without sounding facetious. Fairies, begad! And handsome princes and beautiful heroines and noble Lords! They are also nearly impossible to put down once you start reading them. She has the gift of making the characters real, of making you care about them and of making a story with them that you simply have to finish.

There are numerous surprises, plot twists and revelations to keep the suspense mounting. The endings are never tragic but not all problems are solved (leaving room for sequels) and it is usual for some quite loveable characters to get killed, which gives the proceedings a certain amount of unpredictability. The fact that she writes beautifully is not altogether irrelevant.

'Heir To Sevenwaters' is a follow up to the 'Sevenwaters Trilogy' and looks like being the start of another one. I look forward to forthcoming volumes.

Eamonn Murphy

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