Sorcha’s mother died when she was born. With her father in mourning and busy defending their Irish land holdings, her six older brothers have raised her and cared for her well. At twelve she is the healer that the villagers call upon when someone is hurt of falls ill.
Some of her brother’s are militaristic like their father, but Finbar is a peacekeeper. He enlists the aid of his sister to help a captured Briton escape their father’s torture, and heal him back to health. The young man is both mentally and physically damaged, and Sorcha has a big task ahead of her.
Before she can cure the Briton, an evil sorceress enchants and marries their father. Life goes from passing good, to frightfully bad. The father cannot be convinced the woman is evil as she goes about destroying all which Sorcha and her brothers hold dear.
One night while the siblings have gathered to perform a precious ritual and also to send Sorcha off to safety, the sorceress finds them and casts a spell that turns the brothers into swans.
Sorcha flees, but to what she doesn’t know. The Lady of the Forest comes to her and tells her there is a way she can rescue her brothers, but the task is difficult, perhaps impossible.
She must not speak or in any way tell her story while she spins and weaves six shirts for her six brothers from painfully stinging Starwart fibers. If she can manage this, and then puts the shirts on her brothers all within the same moment, the brothers will retake human form.
Sorcha agrees, and goes off into the forest to complete her task. So begins a long journey of hardship and love, both for her brothers and for the Briton prince who finds her ill and hurt in the forest and takes her back to his castle.
I had the pleasure of meeting Australian author Juliet Marillier at an SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators) writing workshop in June. She’s a wonderfully modest woman who grew up in a community of Scots immersed in fairy tales and folk music. In researching her stories she connected with modern day druids, and is now a druid herself.
Find out more about Marillier at her official website.
The Sevenwaters series would be an entertaining read for fairy tale and fantasy enthusiasts age 12 and up.