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Heir to Sevenwaters    by Juliet Marillier order for
Heir to Sevenwaters
by Juliet Marillier
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though I enjoy all of Juliet Marillier's adult and YA fantasies, my favorites of her works are still those (beginning with Daughter of the Forest) that center on the Irish tuath of Sevenwaters, named for seven streams that flow down the hillsides to the tree-circled lake. Heir to Sevenwaters continues to tell a tale of folk who live in close proximity to otherworldly creatures, and often interact with them.

This episode in the saga centers on Clodagh, daughter of Sevenwaters chieftain Sean (uncle to Fainne who starred in the third book, Child of the Prophecy). As her mother Aisling suffers through a late life pregnancy, hoping for a son after six daughters, an anxious Clodagh runs the household, which is busy with preparations for her twin sister Deirdre's wedding to southern chieftain Illann. She also worries over disquieting rumours about the Fair Folk that make it seem like 'that wise and noble race had almost overnight become mischievous and meddling.'

Discomfited by the sight of 'a man wrapped in a hooded cape of shadow gray' watching her in the forest, Clodagh hurries home to meet a new set of wedding guests, including two men in the war band of her cousin (also her father's heir) Johnny. She had previously met (and very much liked) handsome Aidan, but feels nothing but antagonism for his childhood friend Cathal, who seems to have no grasp for the social niceties and continually utters words that annoy her. And she continues to see shadowy figures around her.

Of course, a love triangle develops and - like all Marillier's heroines - Clodagh ends up in a troublesome conflict of loyalties. Further complicating her life, after her mother bears a healthy son, Finbar, that child is replaced by a changeling on her watch - and it looks like 'a curious jumble of sticks and stones, leaves and moss' to everyone but Clodagh. Overnight her life changes - from being the apple of her father's eye and center of the household, Clodagh comes under suspicion as she struggles to nurture the fey infant in her care.

Soon Clodagh realizes that she must leave Sevenwaters, find a doorway to the Otherworld, and take on a perilous quest to return the changeling and rescue her baby brother. Along the way she is helped by her younger sister Sibeal (a seer), gleans wisdom from tales told by old crone Willow, and discovers that Cathal (who also can see the changeling and aids her quest) is at the center of the maelstrom of suspicion and treachery that surrounds those she loves. But, as Clodagh warns dark Tuatha De Danann prince Mac Dara, 'Nothing defeats love.'

Heir to Sevenwaters is a brilliant new addition to the Sevenwaters storyline, highly recommended. I hope there will be more to come in this excellent series.

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