________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013


Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale.

Charles de Lint. Illustrated by Charles Vess.
New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company (Distributed in Canada by Hachette Book Group), Feb., 2014.
260 pp., hardcover & e-book, $20.00 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-316-05356-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-316-23995-0 (e-book).

Subject Headings:
Adventure and adventurers-Fiction.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I sighed and started to walk over to where she was sitting when a weird buzzing sound filled the air. I thought it was something of the Apple Tree Man’s doing, but when I looked at him, he appeared as confused as Aunt Lillian and me. The buzzing grew louder, turning into a deep rumbling drone. We all looked around, searching for its source.

“It’s the ‘sangman’,” Aunt Lillian said.

I glanced in his direction. The little man was still lying in his basket, his mouth open. I remember thinking, Is this what a sangman’s snores sound like?, and then they came streaming out of his mouth, a yellow-and-black cloud of bees, thick as smoke, pouring from between his lips like steam from a kettle.

“Down!” the Apple Tree Man cried. “Get down and lie still.”


As the title suggests, Seven Wild Sisters is about a set of seven sisters. Sarah Jane is the middle sister and the protagonist of the story. After her father’s death, Sarah Jane moved with her six sisters and her mother to their grandparents’ old farm. Over time, Sarah Jane befriends Aunt Lillian, a slightly mysterious old woman who lives nearby on an isolated farm. She begins to help Aunt Lillian with the running of the farm, and she is regaled by Aunt Lillian’s many stories of the fairies and other creatures that inhabit the nearby forest. Sarah Jane loves the stories but doesn’t consider them anything but fairy tales until she encounters one of the forest fairies, gravely injured. She saves the injured man’s life and unwittingly becomes embroiled in a feud between two fairy factions. The plot escalates when the two warring factions each kidnap some of Sarah Jane’s sisters, hoping to use them as hostages to get what they want from Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane must enlist the help of other forest dwellers in order to set the fairy world right and save her six sisters.

     Seven Wild Sisters is a modern fairy tale set in the same forest as, but several decades after, the events of The Cats of Tanglewood Forest (Vol XIX., No. 36, May 17, 2013), another fairy tale by Charles de Lint. Seven Wild Sisters features the return of a few characters, but it is not a true sequel, and the two novels can be enjoyed independently. Seven Wild Sisters is an engaging story told with wit and liveliness. A novel with seven sisters could easily get confusing, but de Lint does a good job of differentiating the sisters and giving each one distinct character traits such that it is easy to follow the events of the novel and keep track of what each sister is involved in. Overall, Seven Wild Sisters is an enjoyable fairy tale with a classic feel, and the book is a highly recommended purchase for school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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