Review – Cybele’s Secret

Cover of Cybele's Secret by Juliet MarillierCybele’s Secret, Juliet Marillier
Review from 27th January, 2011

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed Cybele’s Secret more than Wildwood Dancing. The main problem I had with Wildwood Dancing was the predictability, and maybe the tortuous way everything went wrong, and so the pacing… For the most part, Cybele’s Secret was better, in that respect. I didn’t figure out the whole plot in the first fifty pages as I did with Wildwood Dancing, so it didn’t drag so much for me — and when it got to the last part, I was hooked, toes curling with excitement, grinning like an idiot: the lot.

My main criticism of Cybele’s Secret is how very, very similar Paula’s tone was to Jena’s. The two sisters are alike, but… Not so alike, I’d thought. I might have been reading the same narrator, though, or so it seemed to me… And the separation of Paula and her father, the way she got on the ship… Once she was on the ship, she acted in character, but there was nothing level-headed about going to confront a man she believed to be violent, unscrupulous and cruel. I didn’t believe that as something she would do. Which is unfortunate, because part of the plot hinged on that.

I predicted who would be following them, too, and even how she would end, so it still didn’t keep me on my toes — but the feeling of utter familiarity wasn’t there.

It’s hard to say, after that, what I did like so much. Duarte and Stoyan, mainly. I believed in both their characters, and in their different loves for Paula. And I believed in her affection for them. The end made me smile a lot.

Rating: 4/5

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2 thoughts on “Review – Cybele’s Secret

  1. Personally, I care less about whether or not the plot is predictable. If the book just relies on surprising me, it wouldn’t stand re-reading. That said, it seems that here it’s bad because i’s like the plot was lifted from somewhere else.

    • There’s a difference, I think, between ‘familiar’ and ‘predictable’. I don’t necessarily read books to be surprised, but there is entertainment value in originality. I’ve read Tolkien dozens of times, so there’s no surprise there, but what he wrote was entirely his own creation and could only have been written by him. The previous book in this series, Wildwood Dancing… it just had an element of seen-it-done-it that any writer could have achieved with any character or setting. Cybele’s Secret is actually (if I remember rightly!) more interesting.

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