The first time I read this book I was a junior in high school. It has been in my top 5 favorite books ever since. Well, it and it’s sequel Cybele’s Secret. The main characters of Wildwood Dancing are 5 sisters (Tatianna, Jena, Paula, Iulia, and Stela) who live in Transylvania. The story point of view is from Jena, the second oldest of the girls. She is fill-in for their Dad while he is away for the winter. She understands his merchant business and is always watching out for her sisters.
The best part of the story is that the girls live on this enchanted wooded area and they find a portal to go in to a different realm. It’s kind of faerie-like. They go on the night of the full moon every month to go dancing with all of the fae-folk. They have been doing this for several years and have many friends over there.
A sub-story within this story is about Jena and her two older boy cousins Cezar and Costi. One day when they were children they were out in the forest playing by a pond when the oldest cousin, Costi drowned. Ever since Cezar has grown up bitter and unloving. He wants to kill everything and everyone in the forest for what happened to his brother. Cezar plays a big role in the story whenever the girl’s father leave and he tries to move in and take over everything to feel more like “a man.”
While all of this is going on one of the sisters falls in love with one of the mysterious Night People (Vampires) who show up to one of their full moon soirees. This love causes her to slowly wither away from her broken heart of not being able to be with the man she loves because he is from the other realm. In the end she must choose wether to stay with her family or to be with the man she loves.
My very favorite part of this tale is Gogu. He is Jena’s other-worldly pet frog. She has had him for going on 10 years and he can hear his thoughts. She found him out by the pond that her cousin drowned in and has carried him everywhere with her ever since. He is so blunt and so loving. He kind of reminds me of Pascal from the movie Tangled. At one point they get separated in the other realm and it’s heart breaking how torn up she is and the lengths he goes to get back to her.
There is so many magical things going on in this story. It’s great if you’re looking for something empowering and fantastical. Marillier does an amazing job at world building, tugging at your emotions, and teaching true and honest lessons. After reading this story I wanted to go out and find a frog and book a flight to Transylvania! It’s also a great escape if you need to check out of reality for a bit.