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Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Cybele's Secret is the sequel to Wildwood Dancing--Juliet Marillier's first young adult novel. I have been a huge Marillier fan ever since picking up her first novel, Daughter of the Forest, to take with me on a trip to Italy. The wonderful thing about Marillier is that her sequels are always as good as, if not better than, her first books. So even though I liked Wildwood Dancing well enough (it didn't wow me), I was really looking forward to Cybele's Secret to see where she took her characters and what peril they got themselves into. 

The story follows Paula, the next to youngest of the five Brasov girls, and the one most noted for her scholarly bent and lack of interest in pretty much all things mundane. Fluent in both Greek and Latin, Paula accompanies her merchant father on a trip to Istanbul to serve as his assistant in his attempt to acquire a most unusual, legendary artifact known as Cybele's Gift. The artifact is a remnant of a long dead pagan cult and is said to bestow upon its owner fortune and blessings untold. Once in Istanbul, Paula's father finds he is just one of several merchants set on purchasing Cybele's Gift. Shadowed closely by her Bulgar bodyguard Stoyan, Paula puts her wits to work ferreting out the history behind the artifact and just why potential buyers keep turning up dead or fleeing town without explanation. Oh, and there's also a dashing pirate and adventure on the high seas. 

I enjoyed this sequel quite a bit more than its predecessor. That may have been because I related more to Paula and her struggle to stretch beyond the comfortable boundaries of her introverted nature. I also loved the setting in Istanbul. Marillier's research and immersion in her chosen locale is always evident in her stories and it particularly shone in this one. The twisty markets, the call to prayer, the artfully layered clothing swept me up along with Paula, Duarte, and Stoyan. Though some outcomes were fairly predictable, I always appreciate the loyalty Marillier's characters show one another. Even in the face of extreme doubt and fear. The good, the bad, the gray in between characters are each depicted with their individual virtues and vices and forced to move outside their accustomed circles. No one is perfect and everyone has their less-than-admirable moments as well as their moments when they prove themselves more than they seem. In short, they are all so human. And that's what brings me back to her books over and over again. 

Comments

  1. This one is on my to be read pile, waiting for me to find a few peaceful minutes!

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  2. Let me know what you think when you get to it. Have you read much Marillier?

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  3. I actually had a different opinion, I preferred "Wildwood Dancing" to "Cybele's Secret".

    I felt like Cybele didn't really pick up until right before and during their journey under the mountain. That part was fabulous, but it was a little slow-going for awhile. I was also more invested in Jena and Costi's relationship than Paula and her bodyguard, even though I did end up enjoying their chemistry too.

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  4. Just goes to show how people identify differently with certain characters. I loved Stoyan. I also enjoyed Tati's role in this one. It was unexpected and I wish she'd gotten to stay around longer.

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  5. I still haven't gotten around to reading this yet. I am on the nomiating panel for the Cybils Award's Sci Fi/
    fantasy section (http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/), and I am hoping that someone will nomiate it before the Oct. 15 deadline! Otherwise, what with reading all the books that have been nomiated, this will have to wait for months.

    I have the list of what's been nominated so far up at my blog, if you are interested!

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  6. Dang, I already nominated Chalice or I would nominate it. Hopefully someone else will...

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