On the Merits of the Backlist

Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier

It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are never enough books in the world to fulfil the avid reader. It is equally true that there are also far too many books out there to ever be read by one person. In attempting to keep up with the remorseless machine that is publishing (the devil works hard, but believe me, publishers work harder) it is easy to find oneself lost in the sea of new and shiny books.

Since starting work in a bookshop, I’ve found this happening more than ever. There’s something seductive about being part of the initial hype for a book, joining that wave of excitement. It also helps ensure that the books you so eagerly recommend to customers are actually there on the shelves, and not buried in the annals of history.

But in an unexpected, but delightful turn of events, I’ve been doing things differently this year. With no suspicion of what they might unleash, the hosts of one of my bookclubs chose Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest. Inspired by Irish folklore and the story of the Six Swans, this old-school feminist fantasy was just what I needed. Strong characters, a compelling plot, a lush setting, magic — what more could you want? I devoured it no time, and immediately went on to read the other books in the series. Quicker than you can say “Sevenwaters” I had ordered the rest of Marillier’s expansive backlist, and now I have enough exciting reading to keep me until Christmas.

There’s a great comfort in diving straight into an author’s work, knowing that there’s plenty more for you to discover. I’ve started doing it with other writers too — it’s almost becoming a habit. Why not do the same? Pick up that book that’s been lurking unread on your shelves for years, and see where it takes you.

Dun Laoghaire's favourite blue haired bookseller. Gabbie loves nothing more than character-driven stories full of whimsy, the kind of stories that will grip your heart and refuse to let it go, but she will give any kind of book a chance. (she/her)

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