Wildwood Dancing

Wildwood Dancing

by Juliet Marillier

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Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It's an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle's hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.

But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he's there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena's sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom--an impossible union it's up to Jena to stop.

When Cezar's grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can't imagine--tests of trust, strength, and true love.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375849442
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/25/2008
Series: Wildwood Dancing Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 92,593
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Juliet Marillier is the author of several highly popular fantasy novels for adults, including the Sevenwaters Trilogy and the Bridei Chronicles. This is her first novel for teen readers. She lives in Australia.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I’ve heard it said that girls can’t keep secrets. That’s wrong: we’d proved it. We’d kept ours for years and years, ever since we came to live at Piscul Dracului and stumbled on the way into the Other Kingdom. Nobody knew about it—not Father, not our housekeeper, Florica, or her husband, Petru, not Uncle Nicolae or Aunt Bogdana or their son, Cezar. We found the portal when Tati was seven and I was six, and we’d been going out and coming in nearly every month since then: nine whole years of Full Moons. We had plenty of ways to cover our absences, including a bolt on our bedchamber door and the excuse that my sister Paula sometimes walked in her sleep.

I suppose the secret was not completely ours; Gogu knew. But even if frogs could talk, Gogu would never have told. Ever since I’d found him long ago, crouched all by himself in the forest, dazed and hurt, I had known I could trust him more than anyone else in the world.

It was the day of Full Moon. In the bedchamber our gowns and shoes were laid out ready; combs, bags, and hair ornaments were set beside them. Nothing would be touched now, until the household was safely in bed. Fortunately, it was rare for Florica to come up to our room, because it was at the top of a flight of stairs, and stairs made her knees hurt. I did wonder how much Florica knew or guessed. She must have noticed how quiet we always were on the night of Full Moon, and how exhausted we were when we stumbled down to breakfast the next morning. But if she knew, Florica didn’t say a thing.

During the day we kept up our normal activities, trying not to arouse suspicion. Paula helped Florica cook fish ciorb?a, while Iulia went out to lend a hand to Petru, who was storing away sacks of grain to last us over the winter. Iulia did not enjoy the hard work of the farm, but at least, she said, it made the time go more quickly. Tati was teaching Stela to read: I had seen the two of them ensconced in a warm corner of the kitchen, making letters in a tray of wet sand.

I sat in the workroom with Father, reconciling a set of orders with a record of payments. I was good with figures and helped him regularly with such tasks. The merchant business in which he was a partner with his cousin, whom we called Uncle Nicolae, kept the two of them much occupied. Gogu sat on the desk, keeping himself to himself, though once or twice I caught his silent voice—the one only I could hear.

You’re upset, Jena.

“Mmm,” I murmured, not wanting to get into a real conversation with him while both Father and his secretary, Gabriel, were in the room. My family didn’t truly believe that I sometimes knew what Gogu was thinking. Even my sisters, who had long ago accepted that this was no ordinary frog, thought that I was deluding myself—putting my own words into the frog’s mouth, perhaps. I knew that was wrong. I’d had Gogu since I was a small girl, and the things he told me definitely didn’t come from my own head.

Don’t be sad. Tonight is Full Moon.

“I can’t help it, Gogu. I’m worried. Now hush, or Father will hear me.”

Father was trying to write a letter. He kept coughing, and in between bouts he struggled to catch his breath. Tomorrow he would be leaving on a journey to the port of Constan¸ta, in the milder climate of the Black Sea coast. His doctor had told him, sternly, that if he tried to get through another winter at Piscul Dracului in his present ill health, he would be dead before the first buds opened on the oaks. We five sisters would be looking after the place on our own, right through the winter. Of course, Uncle Nicolae would help with the business, and Florica and Petru with the house and farm. It was not so much the extra responsibility that troubled me. Father was away often enough on business and we had coped before, though not for so long. What chilled me was the thought that when we said goodbye in the morning, it might be forever.

At supper we were all quiet. I was thinking about what Father had confided to Tati and me earlier. Up till then, none of us had mentioned the possibility that Father might die of this illness, for to say that aloud would be to put the unthinkable into words. But Father had wanted his eldest daughters to be prepared for whatever might happen. Should he die before any of us girls married and bore a son, he’d explained, both Piscul Dracului and Father’s share of the business would go to Uncle Nicolae, as the closest male relative. We were not to worry. If the worst should occur, Uncle Nicolae would see we were provided for.

Uncle Nicolae’s family home was called Vârful cu Negur?a: Storm Heights. His house was quite grand, set on a hillside and surrounded by birch and pine forest. He ran a prosperous farm and a timber business, as well as the trading ventures that had made him wealthy. When we were little, we had lived in the merchant town of Bra¸sov, and Vârful cu Negur?a had been a place we visited as a special treat. It was hard to say what I had loved best about it: the dark forest, the forbidden lake, or the excitement of playing with our big cousins, who were both boys.

But there was no doubt at all what Father had loved. Next door to Vârful cu Negur?a was Piscul Dracului, Devil’s Peak. Father had first seen the empty, crumbling castle, set on a high spur of rock, when he was only a boy. Our father was an unusual kind of person, and as soon as he clapped eyes on Piscul Dracului he wanted to live there. There’d been nobody to inherit the ruin and the tract of wildwood that went with it; perhaps the many strange tales attached to the place had frightened people away. The owner had died long ago. Florica and Petru had been custodians of the place for years, looking after the empty chambers and eking out a living from the small farm, for they were hardworking, thrifty folk.

Father had waited a long time to achieve his dream. He had worked hard, married, and fathered daughters, bought and sold, scrimped and saved. When he’d set enough silver aside from his merchant ventures, trading in silk carpets and bear skins, spices and fine porcelain, he’d quietly paid a large sum to an influential voivode, gone into partnership with Uncle Nicolae, and moved our family into Piscul Dracului.

I think Mother would have preferred to stay in Bra¸sov, for she feared the tales folk told about the old castle. It looked as if it had grown up out of the forest, with an assortment of bits and pieces sprouting from every corner: tiny turrets, long covered walkways, squat round towers, arches, and flagpoles. The eccentric nobleman who had built it had probably been someone just like Father. People seldom ventured into the forest around Piscul Dracului. There was a lake deep within the wildwood, a place unofficially known as the Deadwash, though its real name was prettier: T?aul Ielelor, Lake of the Nymphs. Every family had a dark story about the Deadwash. We got ours soon after we moved into the castle. When I was five years old, my cousin Costi—Uncle Nicolae’s eldest son—drowned in T?aul Ielelor. I was there when it happened. The things folk said about the lake were true.

Before Father became so ill, Tati and I had scarcely given a thought to such weighty matters as what might happen to Piscul Dracului, with no son to inherit our father’s property. My elder sister was a dreamer, and I had a different kind of future in mind for myself: one in which I would work alongside my father, traveling and trading and seeing the world. Marriage and children were secondary in my scheme of things. Now—with Father’s cough ringing in our ears, and his white face regarding us across the supper table—they had become a frightening reality. I remembered Aunt Bogdana saying that sixteen was the ideal age for a young woman to wed. Tati was already in her seventeenth year; I was only one year younger.

Father went off to bed as soon as the meal was over; he’d hardly touched his food. The others disappeared to our bedchamber, but I waited for Florica to bank up the fire in the big stove and for Petru to bolt the front door, and for the two of them to retire to their sleeping quarters. Then it was safe, and I ran up the stairs to our chamber, my worries set aside for now, my heart beating fast with an anticipation that was part joy, part fear. At last it was time.

The long room we sisters shared had four round windows of colored glass: soft violet, blood-red, midnight-blue, beech-green. Beyond them the full moon was sailing up into the night sky. I put Gogu on a shelf to watch as I took off my working dress and put on my dancing gown, a green one that my frog was particularly fond of. Paula was calmly lighting our small lanterns, to be ready for the journey.

With five girls, even the biggest bedchamber can get crowded. As Tati fastened the hooks on my gown, I watched Iulia twirling in front of the mirror. She was thirteen now, and developing the kind of curvaceous figure our Mother had had. Her gown was of cobalt silk and she had swept her dark curls up into a circlet of ribbon butterflies. We had become clever, over the years, in our use of the leftovers from Father’s shipments. He was good at what he did, but buying Piscul Dracului had eaten up a lot of his funds and, even in partnership with his wealthy cousin, he was still making up for lost ground. I saw the books every day—he had been unable to conceal from me that finances remained very tight. We sisters had to improvise. We made one new dancing gown anytime a cargo contained a little more of a certain fabric than the buyer had requested. I wore Tati’s hand-me-downs; Paula wore mine. Iulia, with her fuller figure, did rather better, because she could not fit into either Tati’s clothes or mine. All the same, she complained; she would have liked a whole wardrobe of finery. Tati was clever with her needle, and adjusted old things of Mother’s to fit her. Mother was gone. We had lost her when our youngest sister was born. Stela was only five—easy to dress.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Wildwood Dancing 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 142 reviews.
Reads_a_lot More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Wildwood Dancing for the second time. This book-I'll tell you right now- will make you laugh, scream, and cry. You'll hate some characters, and love others. You'll be yelling at Jena: telling her exactly what to do even though she won't listen. The ending is beautifully written and warms my heart each time I think about it. I most surely recommend this book to all who love fantasy, adventure, and true love. Go on, read it. You know you want to ;)
yo_mariah46 More than 1 year ago
i love fantasy books and this is another one to add to my list of favorites. i was surprised all the way to the end. i highly recomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best fairy tales I have ever read
Karigan More than 1 year ago
Wildwood Dancing is for those of you who enjoy romance and fantasy. The book is supposed to be based off of 12 Dancing Princesses, but consider it a mixture between that and The Princess and the Frog. I found much of the book highly reminiscent of The Sevenwaters Trilogy. There were many elements that were the same: two brothers falling in love with the same girl, a forest that is a gateway to the Realm of Fae, a lovesick older sister and so on. However, the book was wonderful. It was one of those perfect books that had everything you could ever want in a book: mystery, magic, a beautiful setting, romance, and all tied up with a happy ending. The main character Jena is not a Mary Sue and is quite flawed, making the story altogether more interesting. You feel proper emotion for everything in the story. Frustration, anger, hate for the villains, and love for all of Jena's sisters. Beautifully written (Juliet Marillier is a fantastic autor), lovely story, great characters...an enticing book that is worth buying and rereading several times. The more adventerous sequel, Cybele's Secret, is just as good, if not better than Wildwood Dancing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! If you are a fan of good vs. evil, true love, and magical places, you will enjoy "Wildwood Dancing." There is an unexpected twist at the end that will have you shocked and wanting more! The main chacater, Jenica, must try to hold her family together and learns a lesson in following her instincts.
Mr_Porter More than 1 year ago
Wildwood dancing is about five sisters, their father, and their cosins. When they found a portel in Jena's bedchamber the all go thourgh it and discover another kingdom called wildwood. When their father gets really ill and is sent away the sisters are on their own. Jena has a enchanted frog named Gogu he helpes her deside if she should marry or save the Wildwood from harm.On one of the full moons Tatiania falls in love with a night person, also known as a vampire. Jena tries to keep them apart for as long as she can. So if you like magical lands, forbiden lovers, dangers that await, and enchanted frogs then you would like this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i love everything by Juliette Marillier. This is my favorite after Daughter of The Forest. I couldn't wait to go to bed at night to read it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read entwinded and loved it ( its just another name for the 12 dancing princesses) i hope this is as good
Valette More than 1 year ago
 can't believe I've never read this before! I have a small disclaimer to very quickly make: I finished this book at 1:00 a.m. and books tend to seem better then than they really are, but then again, I stayed up till one reading it.        Jena's matter-of-fact character was a breath of fresh air. She wasn't snarky, comical, or angsty. She was just nice. And, though I do enjoy a good sarcastic character, it was nice. As the second oldest left with the responsibility of her family, she was very sympathetic. I loved her and could safely wish her a happy-ever-after. But Cezar! He made my blood boil! (Which, to be honest, was kind of the point. So it was good.) Tati and Sorrow were perfect and lovely together. And to top off this cake of beautifully crafted characters was Gogu (Jena's pet frog). He had such a strong will for a frog. Characters: 5 Stars        Wildwood Dancing is very loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it didn't take the same overused path of narratio. It took an entirely new angle, one that managed to be classic and incorporate the mystical nature of Transylvania while still being unexpected and exciting. I thought I saw what was coming, but I didn't (admittedly, I am quite gullible). It was satisfying, and bitter-sweet. Plot: 4.5 Stars         The book did start out a bit slow and excessively wordy, but this aspect faded out after the first few chapters. Those chapters are definitely worth sticking through, and I think this narration helped reinforce Jena's character. It also brought to mind the straight forward nature of fairy tales and made the tale more beautiful. Style: 4 Stars Rating: 4.5
gbarrera More than 1 year ago
I fell in live with thisbook in high school, that was 3 years ago and ive been dying for her to ckme out with another teen book! I loved this book so very much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have reread since!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I totally love this book! Go Jenna and Costi! :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my absolute favorite books. Its a nice spin on the 12 dancing princesses. I just keep rereading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wildwood Dancing is one of the most beautifully written books I have read. The details and imagination put into it make you feel part of a magical world. Wildwood Dancing reminded me that even though I am getting older, the world is still a magical place, we just have to change images of our fairy princesses. I recomend this book to everyone.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poignant, beautiful, and extremely complex in its own way.
bookrunner More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It is a great blend of fantasy, romance and strong female characters. Characters are well developed and the book is well written. It will keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
In the wilds of Transylvania, set on a high spur of rock next to the Wildwood, rests a castle named Piscul Dracului. The castle itself is unexceptional, old and crumbling as it is. Looking at it, you would never know it hides a portal to the Other Kingdom. Each full moon five sisters travel through the portal into a magical glade where they dance with creatures rarely seen outside of fairy tales--fairies, dwarves, trolls and other creatures only whispered about back home. For nine years of full moons, the sisters have gone dancing in the Other Kingdom. Until now, the secret of the portal has been safe in Wildwood Dancing (2007) by Juliet Marillier. Part retelling of the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses; part reinterpretation of classic vampire lore, Wildwood Dancing is an eerie, atmospheric story of forbidden love, precious gifts, and otherworldly creatures. Marillier's writing is rich and vivid, immediately transporting readers to the world of Jena (the narrator) and her sisters. Although dense with foreign terms (defined in a glossary at the end of the book) and unusual names (explained in a pronunciation guide at the end of the book), this story is sure to quickly enchant readers looking for a classic fantasy story with an original twist. All of the sisters are distinct and well-developed characters who bring their own charms to the story. Although the eldest, Tati, grew tiresome as a lovesick heroine, she provided a good counterpoint to sensible Jena who prefers the company of her enchanted frog Gogu to the prospect of marriage. Wildwood Dancing is largely a story about characters rather than events. Marillier takes her time getting to the crux of the story, using the beginning of the book to establish the setting and the characters, only to ultimately create a powerhouse, page turning, ending with unlikely twists and unexpected consequences for all of the sisters. The story of Jena's younger sister Paula continues in Cybele's Secret, a companion to Wildwood Dancing. Possible Pairings: The War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde