Book Review: Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

14 Jan

I made a big mistake by not reading Wildwood Dancing first. I’ve wanted to read that book for a very long time, but whenever I thought about it and walked into a bookshop, I tended to leave with three different things after finding its spot on the shelves vacant. Actually, it was my search for Wildwood Dancing that led me to Cybele’s Secret–I recognized the author’s name. About two pages in I realized it was something like a sequel, but a brief search online told me it was a “companion novel” which I took as safe to read. Not that it wasn’t safe, but I do believe I’ve been properly spoiled for Wildwood, and I was confused about a few things at the start. My advice: read Wildwood first.

That said, I found Cybele’s Secret to be a thoroughly enjoyable novel following the adventures of Paula, an intellectual girl stuck in a world where men did the scholarly work. She was brought to Istanbul by her father, a merchant on a quest for a valuable item — Cybele’s Gift. Paula works as his assistant, making deals with other merchants and gathering information on Cybele’s Gift in an all-women library, and working out Cybele’s secret with her bodyguard, Stoyan, while fighting off the interest of Duarte, a well-known pirate who is also after the Gift.


My only complaint was that I couldn’t place myself in the story, which perhaps is a problem from not reading its prequel. Set in Istanbul, I didn’t know enough of the city’s current culture to know when the story was set (the author note at the back, which I read at the end, said early Ottoman Empire). Part of what threw me was Paula’s name–I have an aunt by the same name, so I place it in the 1960s. It threw me, though it shouldn’t have–swordplay and ships ought to have set the time back a few hundred years.

Mystery, secrets, quests, a mysterious woman dressed in black embroidering the faces of Paula and her sisters–Cybele’s Secret was an enchanting, thrilling,enjoyable read, and made me all the more exciting for Wildwood Dancing.

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4 Responses to “Book Review: Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier”

  1. Sarah January 26, 2013 at 3:51 am #

    I own wildwood dancnig, its one of my favorite books! want me to bring it with me?

  2. Emily January 26, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    If you'd like! I can also look into reserving it at the library, if you don't want to take up room in your suitcase (but if you're bringing it anyway, I wouldn't object!)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2013: A Year of Reading in Review | More Than One Page - December 26, 2013

    […] Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier […]

  2. Book Review: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier | More Than One Page - November 22, 2014

    […] I’ve gone through tons of Marillier’s other books in recent months. I even read the “sequel” to Wildwood a few years ago without realizing that it was a sequel. Luckily, I didn’t remember much from […]

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