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Marillier, Juliet. Wildwood dancing.

MARILLIER, Juliet. Wildwood dancing. Random House, Knopf. 408p. c2007. 978-375-83364-9. $16.99. SA *

Marillier turns to the magic and mystery of Transylvania for her newest novel. Jena, her older sister Tatiana, and her younger sisters Iulia, Paula and Stela all have a secret: every month on the night of the Full Moon, they open a secret portal into the Other Kingdom for a night of dancing among fairies, dwarves and trolls. The rest of the time, they keep house for their widowed merchant father and help with his business at Piscul Dracului. When her ill father leaves to spend the winter in a warmer climate, Jena's cousin Cezar begins to try to control Jena, her sisters, and their home. Furthermore, Tatiana becomes enraptured with a young man she meets in the Other Kingdom, who may be one of the dangerous and frightening Night People. Only the support of her sisters and of her enchanted frog Gogu sustains Jena in her ordeal.

Marillier blends a variety of fantasy elements into her story: the sisters who slip off to dance in the fairy kingdom, the enchanted frog, and the legends of the bloodthirsty vampires of the region. The narrative is mesmerizing and tightly constructed from the beginning to the wholly satisfying end. Light humor enhances the story and rescues it from potentially overwhelming gloom. Jena and her sisters are delightful characters, strong and determined even in the face of the disaster. Cezar seems a tad heavy-handed at times, but Marillier manages to inspire sympathy for his character as well.

Wildwood Dancing will appeal widely to YAs who like authors such as Patricia McKillip. (The stunning and detailed cover is by Kinuko Y. Craft, illustrator for most of McKillip's books.) In spite of its teenaged protagonist, it will appeal to older readers as well. Donna Scanlon, Libn., Lancaster PL, Lancaster, PA

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

A--Recommended for advanced students and adults. This code will help librarians and teachers working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placements students. This also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Author:Scanlon, Donna
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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