Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Summary from Goodreads:
Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.
But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.
When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...
This book is many things rolled in one. It is a fairy tale retelling, a fantasy and historical novel, and a romance read. It has suspense, mystery, and drama. I was absolutely drawn in by this book. It's a pretty thick book but I breezed through it.
I loved the idea of seven siblings, each with different personalities and skills but are closely knit as a woven tapestry. I adored Sorcha, the only girl and the youngest of them all, but proved to be the strongest. She isn't like most strong female leads that I've read in books, her strength isn't measured in physical prowess nor in a tough attitude but it is in her perseverance, determination and love for her family that she'll go through any form of pain and suffering to save them from the evil enchantment that has befallen them.
Marillier is an excellent fantasy writer, the world she created was rich and the language lucid. I found myself wincing a couple of times and it was just heartbreaking to see someone as young as Sorcha, go through all these suffering. Not only was the task that's necessary to break the curse as set by the Fair Folk, quite impossible enough already, mortal men decided to come into the picture and meddle into Sorcha's affairs. I was rooting for her all throughout and was holding my breath as to whether she will break the curse and bring back her brothers.
Being a fan of mythology, I also liked that there was a bit of Celtic Lore in the story, as opposed to the usual Greek, Norse, or Roman myth. And I found out that the Fair Folk, the magical beings in Celtic Lore are as every bit as irrational and fickle minded as the gods of the other well known mythologies that I have mentioned and they also loves to take a hand in mortal fate. The book also explored the long standing feeling of contempt between the Britons and the Irish, about their differences that led to wars and bloodshed.
This book will absolutely make it's way into my favorite fantasy reads this year. It is on of those "againsts all odds" stories that captivates you.