Cybele's Secret

Reviewer: Naomi Hinchen

Author: Juliet Marillier

Published: 2008

Reviewed: 2009-04-23

Publisher: Knopf (Random House)

"Cybele's Secret" is the sequel to "Wildwood Dancing," which was an
adaptation of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. "Wildwood
Dancing" was about a family of five sisters, but it focused mainly on
the older two or three. "Cybele's Secret" takes place six years later
and focuses on the fourth sister, Paula. I recommend reading
"Wildwood Dancing" first, but "Cybele's Secret" works on its own and
is in some ways very different from its predecessor.

One of the things that impressed me about the book was its setting.
Most of the action takes place in Istanbul, where Paula and her
merchant father are traveling on business, and I could tell that
Marillier did a lot of research into the social and cultural history
of the region. The characters' clothes and the food they ate are
described vividly and really helped bring the scenes to life. I also
liked Paula's voice as a main character; she's smart and capable and
stands up for herself, and overall feels like a more three-dimensional
character than the younger version of her who appears in "Wildwood

I will note that I called some of the plot twists ahead of time,
though that may have been my natural paranoia as a reader. (For
example, I saw the "surprise" villain coming a mile away.) The love
triangle, though, was very well done; for most of the book I honestly
couldn't figure out who Paula would end up with, or even who I wanted
her to end up with, and the author could easily have written a
convincing ending where it went the other way. Overall, "Cybele's
Secret" was a very satisfying read, and if the author ever writes
another book, about the youngest sister, I'd love to read it.