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Wildwood Dancing


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Gr 8 Up-This riveting story about 16-year-old Jenica; her pet frog, Gogu; and her four sisters takes place between the fairy world and the family's Romanian estate of Piscul Dracului. When the girls were young, they discovered a mysterious portal that appears every full moon and allows them access to the Dancing Glade in the Other Kingdom. They dress in the finest gowns and spend all night dancing with a host of bizarre and enchanting fairy creatures. Unfortunately, the girls' simple and carefree lives change drastically when their father becomes ill and must spend the winter in the milder climate of Constanta. Jenica takes charge of the estate and the family's merchant business but their overbearing, power-hungry cousin, Cezar, interferes with their affairs and questions the sisters' knowledge of the Other Kingdom. As he tightens the noose around them, everything Jenica has come to love-her sisters, her frog, her home, and the Dancing Glade-is in jeopardy. To make matters worse, her sister Tatiana has fallen in love with one of the mysterious and feared Night people. This relationship is doomed from the start and it is up to Jenica to make things right-but to do so she will be put to the ultimate test. Strong characters, two fully realized settings, and a fast-moving plot guarantee that readers will be spellbound by this page-turner.-Donna Rosenblum, Nassau Boces School Library System, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Combining several familiar fairy tales in her first novel for young readers, Australian author Marillier (Daughter of the Forest, for adults) crafts a romantic fantasy rich in detail, magical creatures and strong female characters. The Wildwood is a magical place ruled by Draguta, "the witch of the wood." For nine years, narrator Jenica (aka Jena) and her four sisters have secretly visited the Other Kingdom, which appears in the Wildwood every Full Moon and where they dance until morning. Though Tati is the oldest, 15-year-old Jena is the responsible sister; people find Jena a bit odd because she travels with a frog named Gogu ("My dearest friend, my inseparable companion and my wise advisor," says she). But the sisters' idyllic world begins to crumble when their cousin Cezar takes over running their estate, Piscul Dracului, while their father is away. Cezar hates and fears the Other Kingdom as much as Jena and her sisters love it. He plans to destroy the trees in the Wildwood, and Jena frantically seeks a way to save the magical world. Marillier weaves the tale of the frog prince into this lush novel, peopled with vampires and forest witches, and adds a surprise twist (involving Jena and her amphibian companion). Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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