Currently Reading: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

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I’m really happy with my book choices lately. Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest is amazing so far, and I believe it will be amazing ’till the very end.

This novel is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Seven Swans”, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a story about six brothers and a sister, Sorcha, who will in the end have to save all of them. I believe this sentence from the Goodreads description portrays it perfectly:

Daughter of the Forest takes the reader to an Ireland on the edge where history and fairy tale meet.

The book has fantastical elements, but the magic feels so realistic that you almost don’t percieve it as something foreign or made up. It is also deeply rooted in Celtic folklore, and it speaks about the history of Ireland and Britain, where different nations lived, fought, and coexisted. At times it felt like reading historical fiction.

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One thing I’ve noticed, which may not be that important to everyone, but is very important to me, is the way this book deals with animals and nature. Respect which the characters show towards nature is very true to Celtic beliefs (I’m not an expert on this, but I’ve read about it quite a lot). It is stressed many time just how important nature is, and I think this is something we should hear more often. The villain of the story shows her true nature by doing bad things not only to people, but also to the plants. Animals are treated with respect. One of the brothers saves a dog, loyal Linn who appears all the time in the book (at least for now). Another brother saves a wounded owl, and cries as he lets her fly free. Sorcha doesn’t even eat animals, and I was so happy to read that, since it is not that common to have vegetarian characters.

I had not eaten flesh or fish since I was a small child, for I had always felt a closeness with other creatures that made my senses revolt at the very idea.

Then, there’s also her reason for not wearing shoes:

“I need no shoes, Father,” I said, hardly thinking. “My feet are tough, look,” and I raised one narrow, grubby foot to show him. “No need for some creature to die so I can be shod.”

I was so excited to read this, as I, too, don’t wear leather at all. And then, this book is also against war, and it makes it clear that people shouldn’t be judged by their nationality. So many good messages! This is what one of the brothers, Finbar, says to Sorcha:

“But there are two sides to every fight. It starts from something small, a chance remark, a gesture made lightly. It grows from there. Both sides can be unjust. Both can be cruel.”

Sorcha is kind and loving, but she’s also smart and she always speaks her mind. She knows how to make potions and is a very good healer. It is clear that she is proud of who she is, and that she doesn’t want to change for anyone.

“Why should I be polished and improved like goods for sale? I might not even want to marry! And besides, I have many skills, I can read and write and play the flute and harp. Why should I change to please some man? If he doesn’t like me the way I am, then he can get some other girl for his wife.”

Of course, good messeages don’t necessarily make a good book, but this book IS good. It is interesting, thought not too fast-paced. It gives you time to get to know the characters, without being too descriptive or slow. I really hope it’ll stay this good until it’s finished.

Have you read Daughter of the Forest? Do you want to? Feel free to let me know. 🙂


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Update and a Microtale

Hi, dear bloggers! I just wanted to let you know that I will be absent from my blog for a week. I’m spending the next week in Vienna, and I will celebrate the New Year’s Eve there! I can’t wait! 🙂 

Before I go, I decided to post the cutest photo from my previous trip, to Ireland and Northern Ireland, and a microtale that I made up for it. Wish you all great holidays! :*

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Sea Happiness

He jumped. The sea spattered around him. He had just an hour, or even less, before the sun set and the boring half of his day began. Then the sea would suddenly start to feel cold, and his limbs too weak to swim as fast as he would want to. Even the fish won’t taste good.

A long time ago the curse was spoken. He was to spend the day as a seal, and during the night he would take the human shape. An annoying curse, indeed. What was one supposed to do as a weak, two legged creature who doesn’t know how to enjoy the simplest and most beautiful things?

Microfiction Challenge: The Red Tree

writingThis is my first time participating in Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. When I saw the promt picture, by the artist Virginia Frances Sterret, I just had to make a story for it. I love it! 🙂 Just look how pretty it is:

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And now, here’s my story:

The Red Tree

Ayla had the magic beans and a plan.
Yes, she would have to defeat the giant, but she was ready for it. She had several tricks in her sleeve. With a wide smile on her face, she planted a bean in the ground. Ayla could already picture the gold and the jewels. No more hard work, no more rags, no more, no more…
It took just a few seconds for the tree to start growing. Did the ground move, or was it just her legs shaking?  Yes, the tree grew, but something wasn’t right.
A strange plant appeared before Ayla’s eyes, weak and wobbly. Its stalk was a dark, rotten red, all twisted and turned.

“You freed me,” the plant spoke. “So now, I will grant you three wishes.”

“Three wishes?” Ayla was confused. “But you’re supposed to take me up in the clouds, to the treasure.”

“Treasure in the clouds? I’ve never heard of such a thing…”

“Well, not exactly in the clouds… Anyway, I didn’t free you. I planted you,” Ayla was getting a bit annoyed. This was not a part of her plan. “And it’s genies who grant wishes. Or goldfish. Not trees.”

“That’s quite judgemental of you,” the plant sounded offended. “What do you know about trees, anyway?”

“I’m sorry…” Ayla sighed. “I’m just a bit surprised. Three wishes are a great deal!”

“I’m not sure I want to grant them anymore…”

“Oh, please!” Ayla wasn’t ready to give up on her dreams.

“Fine. What’s your first wish?” the plant sounded friendly again.

“Well, I want to be rich!”

“I try not to be prejudiced, but this is such a human thing to wish for. Riches. Always the riches. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with that.”

“Why not?”

“I’m just a tree! Money doesn’t grow on trees!”

“Well, what can you do?”

“I can grow fruit.”

A number of different fruits appeared. Yellow pears, blue grapes, red apples. Ayla sighed. It was obvious now that things don’t always turn out like the stories tell. She picked an apple, sat comfortably underneath the tree and tasted it. It was very good. She might never become rich, but she could at least make the best of what she had.

The Road to Grandmother’s House

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If you do as I say
One healty and alive
Will welcome you there.

He told her there was just one rule, as gods always do.

Red was determined not to do the same mistake as everyone before, even though she knew the odds were not in her favour. Pandora always opens the box, Eve always bites the apple, Orpheus turns to look at his lovely wife, and all of Bluebeard’s wives unlock the forbidden door.

The rule was simple. Red had to follow the road to her grandmother’s home, without making even a slightest turn aside, and when she enters the little house, her grandmother would welcome her there. She would be alive and well, in her rocking chair and not underneath the wet, cold ground.

Red’s steps were quick and determined. She believed in herself and could feel happiness enveloping her entire being. Then she saw beautiful flowers on the side of the road and thought how lovely it would be to bring them to her grandmother. She was careful as she picked them not to step from the road, not even with the tip of her shoe.

“The flowers are much more beautiful there, farther into the woods,” a deep voice said.

Red raised her eyes and saw a big wolf staring at her with piercing, green eyes.

“Oh, no, I can’t get off the road,” she said proudly. It was not so easy to fool her.

“Where are you going?” the wolf asked, and his voice was so warm and so kind that Red couldn’t refuse to answer.

“I’m going to my grandmother’s house. She died, but I was promised she will be alive again.”

“Don’t you want to see her sooner then? I know a way through the forest, it’s much shorter,” the wolf said and Red wanted to follow him anywhere.

“No, no!” she replied. “I have to follow the road.”

“Then, you can always run,” the wolf said. “Do you want to race me? I will go through the forest, and you run along the road. Let’s see who comes first!”

Red was suspicious, but she couldn’t find anything wrong about the suggestion. She would still follow the road, no matter what the wolf does. And he seemed so friendly, so she didn’t want to offend him.

“Fine! Let’s race!” she smiled.

The wolf nodded and disappeared among the trees. Red ran and ran, as fast as she could, thinking of the grandmother and thinking of the wolf. She wanted to win but when she came the wolf was already standing on the doorstep.

“You see, I know a much faster way,” the wolf seemed proud.

“Well, I admit, you won,” Red laughed. She wasn’t sad for losing, because in the end, she had also won. She had come to her grandmother’s house, and she followed the road. Magicians, genies, gods… They were never cheating. All those who failed before her were just silly people, with no power of will.

Red knocked on the door, but no one answered. She was a bit surprised to find the door unlocked. She entered the house and called for her grandmother, but no one replied.

“What happened?” she heard the wolf ask.

And then she remembered the exact words of the promise, and she remembered the wolf greeting her on the doorstep.

If you do as I say
One healty and alive
Will welcome you there.

Colours of Good Morning

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It was time for school, and the boy left his home with the bag on his shoulders. The boy. That’s how he came to think of himself. Yes, he had a name, and not a bad one, but not everyone knew it. As he walked through the farmer’s market each day, people would call after him. And they called him boy.

“Hey, boy, do you want some sweet strawberries?”
“Little boy, a few lovely apricots to take to school!”
“Come, boy, buy an apple! You now what they say about apples and doctors!”

The word started to sound right to him, though a bit disheartening. That was what he was. A boy. Just a boy. A nobody. Most people were nobodies, pretending to be somebodies by wearing a name. Only a few really became more than what the people in the market place called them. The rest – just numerous boys, girls, ladies and sirs. The boy wanted more than that. He hated monotony. He yearned for something exciting, something new, something magical. As he passed through the market, it seemed painfully dull to him, despite all the orange apricots, red apples, yellow lemons and green cucumbers. Colours were nothing in comparison to what he hoped for. He dreamed of dragons, fairies, and evil forces that had to be defeated. He wished to be a hero, brave and kind, loved by all.

Suddenly, an old man caught his attention. The man was wearing dirty, shapeless clothes, and begging for some money. He seemed completely grey, standing not so far from the colourful market. Some people passed by, but no one seemed to notice him.
The boy had nothing in his pockets. He wanted to become a hero, but now, he couldn’t even give some change to the poor old man. He felt embarrassed.

Well, the boy thought,  I may have no money, but at least I’ll show him that I see him. I will show him that I care.

With the widest, kindest smile, the boy turned to face the old beggar.
“Good morning!” he greeted him.
The old man raised his eyes, and the boy saw that he was smiling. The lines on his face started to fade. The old beggar jumped from joy, but when his feet touched the ground, he wasn’t an old man in rags anymore. His clothes were clean and white, and on his now golden hair proudly stood a royal crown.
“Magic!” the boy gasped.

A single “good morning” turned the beggar into a prince.

Puss in Boots

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No one takes notice
Of one little kitty
Easy to trick you
Oh, what a pitty!

I do what I want
I never obey
I can walk upright
Now what do you say?

The littlest things
Have the power of will
I don’t play with yarn
I dress to kill.

In boots I walk
To make you see
That you should never
Make fun of me.


A silly little poem today, it was so fun to write. XD 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Quote for Thought: Bicycle

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“To ride a bicycle is in itself some protection against superstitious fears, since the bicycle is the product of pure reason applied to motion. Geometry at the service of man! Give me two spheres and a straight line and I will show you how far I can take them.”

Angela Carter, “The Lady of the House of Love” from The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

A random little quote I wanted to sheare with you. I’ve recently read Angela Carter’s short story collection, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, and I’m amazed by her writing. It’s brilliant. Her stories are dark, I’d even use the word disturbing, and each of them takes fairy tale imagery and makes something completely new out of it. For some reason, this quote stuck with me, even though there are so many wonderful ones. Maybe because it speaks of something mundane, almost random and not connected to fairy tales at all, but it’s still great. And it works great within the story, which I highly recommend. 🙂

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