Books from A-Z

As a long-time book lover with far-sweeping tastes (meaning I will read literally anything) I have recommendations for fans of all genres. To try and touch all sorts of readers, this spring we’ll be moving through a book for every letter of the alphabet!

Ella Minnow Pea—by Mark Dunn

In the center of town on the island of Nollop, there’s a statue of Nevin Nollop and the sentence he invented. “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” contains every letter of the alphabet, and is worshipped by Nollop’s citizens. When tiles start falling off the statue’s inscription, the island’s fanatical high council goes into a panic. They ban the use of each fallen letter from public use, slowly cutting up the citizens’ vocabulary. Ella Minnow Pea is told through correspondence between citizens of Nollop, and as letters continue to drop, the novel drops them too, making it a puzzle to decipher. Mark Dunn’s delightful and prize winning novel intensifies as you read, the book’s farcical nature growing more powerful as Nollop’s residents fight for their right to all the beauty words have to offer.

Feed—by M.T. Anderson

Feed was the decade’s YA dystopian classic way before today’s wave of YA dystopians. There a lot of elements you’d expect from anti-consumerism sci-fi: advertisement fed straight into the mind of the consumer; an environment where even the Clouds™ are manufactured; pervasive, privacy-destroying technology. What’s most misunderstood about these sorts of books, though, is the message that advanced tech is what corrupts society—but even in Anderson’s novel, which is named for the implanted device that links ¾ of the nation’s populace to the grid, it’s simply not true. The “feed” is not the devil of Feed; the new tech is just another tool in the hands of those in power. A YA novel feels like the best way to showcase the sort of world that exists in Feed: cynical, disengaged teens, bumping around their decaying society, painfully aware of the ways they’re being manipulated, but unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

The Girl Who Could Fly—by Victoria Forest

“Piper decided to jump off the roof. It wasn’t a rash decision on her part.” So starts Victoria Forest’s children’s novel, something that’s been called “X-Men meets Little House on the Prairie.” Piper McCloud (what a name for a girl who can fly!) discovers her ability as a child, copying baby birds until she’s eventually leaping off roofs. When government agencies take notice, she’s ushered off for a secret academy, where other children with charming abilities are being groomed by the dastardly Dr. Hellion. It’s a silly book, but a sweet and heartfelt one, and one that has enough cleverness to its story to be read by all ages.

How I Live Now—by Meg Rosoff

A World War III story, told through the voice of a young girl who doesn’t care much about war. Daisy, a snarky teen from New York, has been sent to live in the English countryside by her distant father. But her present worries fall away as her aunt, the only adult left in her life, disappears one day as political tensions boil over. Daisy and her cousins subsist by themselves on their little farmstead, which becomes a secluded Garden of Eden where the rules of the regular world don’t apply. The children do as they will for as long as they can, while the war rages on outside. That is, until the war breaks its way in, and How I Live Now becomes a grim story of survival. The novel often speaks in hazy information and vague nothings. Things that should be magical are brushed over; the impact of things like eating disorders and war and incest is explicit, but minimized, and like the novel as a whole, is told both passively and beautifully.

Tales from the Collection: Clayton Pond Toilets

The art collection of St. Mary’s College of Maryland has an inventory of over 1000 pieces. Many of the artworks that students see everyday in academic buildings are pieces from the collection. Many of the displays for these pieces avoid providing greater context for the pieces, leaving many students curious about what the pieces depict and what the intentions behind them are. Tales from the Collections is devoted to finding the hidden histories of some of St. Mary’s most notorious and bizarre art, without coloring students’ own interpretations too heavily.

Back in the far reaches of the St. Mary’s library (by those desks in the back you go to when you need to sit by an outlet) is a garishly colored painting of a toilet. Well, technically a stylistic toilet and bathroom scene, complete with vibrantly detailed textures and intricately drawn pipes. But, at least for me, it’s the toilet that seems to stare at you while you’re doing homework. I wondered why a piece that seemed so silly would be selected for the St. Mary’s collection, and decided to do some digging.

The name scrawled in the bottom left corner (orange text on green, in a high contrast of color seen throughout the whole painting) is Clayton Pond. The artist was easy enough to find information on: a New York born artist who studied at Pratt institute in the early 1960s, Pond gained fame for his colorful silkscreens. He’s said to have expanded the capacity of silkscreen art making with his use of bright varnish and color.

The painting that made its way to St. Mary’s is most likely one of Pond’s silk screen works from the early 1980s. Close up images of regular household items like toasters, telephones, and indeed toilets were a common point of interest for him; the Museum of Modern Art holds a piece of his from 1975 called The Working End of My Gas Space Heater. According to Harry Abrams, author of Tools as Art: the Hechinger Collection, Pond’s intrigue lies in “recording the obsessions and possessions of Americans.” Pond himself, though, on his website, cites that his sense of humor is what comes through most in his art.

Pond’s use of energized, contrasting colors and thick, interesting line-work marks him as a “second generation Pop artist,” and is what makes his work so eye-catching.  Enough so that actually in the 1970s the US State Department awarded Pond a grant to teach silk-screen workshops in a tour of African countries.

His later work turned away from the iconic close-ups of household items, towards more complex scenes of activities like golfing and skiing, suggesting that his fascination with the workings of modern life is still going strong. Today he’s working more in the three dimensional than the two, with wood layered relief pieces that bring those same subjects to life. Clayton Pond is still making art at his studio in Atlanta, Georgia.

Vera Damanka to Become Student Trustee for 2016-2017

Sophomore Vera Damanka has been selected as the Student Trustee of the Board of Trustees for the 2016-2017 school year. A student-designed Neuroscience major, Damanka was hand-picked as a finalist by a student committee, comprised of the current Student Trustee and Student Trustee-in-training, as well as two selected students. The Board of Trustees then selected her as the future Student Trustee after interviewing her and the other finalist.

When asked about why she would be a successful Student Trustee, Damanka replied, “I feel like I will be a good trustee because I see our school from a very unique perspective. As a minority and a student with a disability, my experience has been very different from the average student. I tend to run into (or bump my wheelchair into) problems that not everyone might see. Because of this, I have become committed to advocacy; especially for groups who are underrepresented or feel like their voices might not be heard.”

She continued, saying, “Each and everyone here is part of the St. Mary’s family and deserves to have the best possible experience here. Part of enhancing that experience is being willing to speak up about issues that are important, and investigate how to remedy those issues. I’m ready to get my hands dirty and start working on how to improve the campus experience for everyone- regardless of their background or experiences.”

Damanka is particularly passionate about the importance of the role of Student Trustee, saying, “SMCM has done so much for me, especially since I returned last year. Overall, the student body has been compassionate and welcoming; and I really feel compelled to give back in any way that I can. I really love the fact that there is a student liaison between the general student body and administration. It puts me in a position where I can serve my fellow students and help to make sure that they feel like their voices are being heard.”

Citing serving on the Leadership Team with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship as her most unique experience at St. Mary’s, Damanka claims, “Each day I have learned to put aside my own selfish desires and serve my friends and classmates in a humble, Christ-like manner. That same humility and servant’s heart is what I am bringing to this position.”

Damanka has several ideas for improving St. Mary’s: “I would like to definitely start off by inviting open forums and conversations about the issues that shook our campus last semester – namely the sexual misconduct and racial tensions. I think social media can be used as a powerful tool to ask and respond to questions, even if people prefer to stay anonymous. I would love to get involved with Seahawk Radio and perhaps speak on issues that are concerning the student body. In addition, I hope to physically interact with every single group and club on campus within the next two years- just to reach out and make sure that all the concerns are being voiced.”

Showcasing her personality when asked if she had anything else she wanted to share, Damanka revealed that she has two hidden talents, rapping and singing, and that she loves to watch soap operas and cheesy romantic comedies in her free time. Able to blend humor and serious thought about how to improve the school, Damanka will clearly be an excellent fit for the position and will serve St. Mary’s well as the Student Trustee for the 2016-2017 school year.

New English Society Sparks Conversation Outside the Classroom

The start of this semester also saw the beginning of a new on-campus organization, called the English Society. Started by seniors Matthew Alexander and Alex Bird and junior Elena Napolitano, the English Society, “hope[s] to achieve a place for English majors, or anyone who cares about literature to have a place outside the classroom to talk about everything we learn here” according to Alexander.

According to Napolitano, “We want to get students talking about literature beyond the classroom. If all goes as planned we hope to have something like a Dead Poets Society on our hands where literature will change and influence our lives in a more palpable and less academic way.”

Alexander shares the sentiment and elaborated on what he hoped the society would become, “Once we figured out that we’d be different than the writing clubs and VOICES, we came up with the idea that the club would be a place for English majors to have discussions without professors there; or there but not as a teacher. We want a place for English majors to calm down and reflect on what we learn. We learn a lot in very short classes that you only get to talk about if you hang out with other English majors, and still then, you’re only around two or three of them at a time. I really want to hear what people have to say about this stuff. How it reads to them! So we came up with an idea that we’d read a piece, a short piece because we know we all read a lot during the semester, then get together and talk about it. It’s as simple as that.”

Supported by the English department (particularly Professors O’Sullivan and Wooley), the society leaders hope to follow up their reading-and-discussion meetings and successful literature trivia night with “a bonfire at the Point as well as some guest lecturers” according to Napolitano and potentially some fun and stimulating fundraising events according to Alexander.

Interested students should email one of the society leaders or show up to one of the next meetings, which are held on Thursdays at 8 pm in Upper Monty Commons.

Exquisite Corpse Preview

“Exquisite Corpse” is unlike any play I have ever heard of. Now those words may not mean much, as I probably have seen or heard of less than a dozen plays, but its unique style of composition, and method of play would be new to anyone who saw it. To explain what I mean, the play itself is composed by the ensemble. I spoke to the director, and some members of the ensemble and production crew, to glean a better understanding of what an ensemble piece is and how they work. When I originally emailed the director Jess Lustig, I asked for her to send me a list of headliners for me to get in contact with. This was my first show of ignorance, as “Exquisite Corpse” does not have headliners, or in Jess’ words “every actor contributes equally.” The co-director senior Madeleine Barry added, “Everyone contributes to the writing, the blocking, the character development…in the end the production is everyone’s creation equally.” Being a member of this ensemble is “different from any piece of theater I’ve been a part of,” according to Karla Coffey, a freshman in the ensemble.“This is truly a cooperative piece of theater…The level of cast involvement is unusual and inspiring.”

This level of collaboration is inherent to the namesake of “Exquisite Corpse.” The name comes from a parlor game created as a game between French surrealists. A paper is folded, a drawing done, and then it is refolded so only the points where lines crossed the crease were visible, and another drawing was done, and so on and so forth. It started as just a game, but the level of dissociation and collaboration became an art form in itself, and has since permeated surrealist work.

This type of disjunction can also be seen in the format of the play. It is in fact, two one-act plays “spoken word pieces from a huge range of sources, and movement pieces created originally by the cast and directorial team” as described by Lustig. Coffey considers this an important part of the play saying “We all contributed to the poetry pieces in the show…It breeds a sort of ownership and pride in the messages we’re conveying.” “What I like about this form of theater is that it gives equal value to each voice,” Barry said, “Even if someone doesn’t have a large speaking role, lets say, then they’ve probably contributed greatly to the other aspects of the play. Ego is supposed to take a backseat to the actual artistic product.” This alienation of ego is perfect considering the topic of the play.

The title “Exquisite Corpse” may be derived from a surrealist practice, but the topic of “Exquisite Corpse” is anything but. In the words of Jess Lustig “’Exquisite Corpse’ aims to explore global involvement in recent conflicts,” more specifically the two one-act plays mentioned take place in Afghanistan, and the topics of poetry surround our society’s response to violence, and our role in world affairs. Jess told me, “I chose to do this play now because I feel like the generation currently in college is so defined by 9/11 and its aftermath.”

For the most part all students here were between the ages of 5-11 or 12 when the twin towers fell. For me at least some of my earliest memories are of watching them fall on TV and going into lockdown, as I was living on a military base at the time. Most people have these types of memories, including the ensemble, as Coffey puts it “All of us have vivid memories of the 9/11 attack and that connection helps to base our performances in a unique, shared, generationally specific reality.” Barry suggests “the reason we are bringing this particular subject to the stage is because it presents a platform for conversation that might not happen otherwise.” This point rings true. The amount of violence we see as a result of our country’s actions every day is astonishing, and to discuss it in an artistic fashion will potentially be a more constructive response than the usual over saturation we get from the common media.

“Exquisite Corpse” promises to be unique, heavy, and entertaining, but, for what reasons does one see a play other than to feel something and be entertained?

Calvert Hall

On Feb. 4, students received the surprising news that Calvert Hall will not be used as a residence for the 2015-2016 school year. Students received this news through an All-Student email from Dean of Students Leonard Brown, explaining that the large number of graduates this May would leave a large number of spaces available for continuing students to take on North Campus. “With a larger senior class graduating this May,” read the email, “there will be a larger percentage of rising seniors, juniors, and sophomores who will be eligible to live on North Campus next year, thereby reducing the number of returning students to the traditional residence halls.” This is in addition to 128 vacancies that already exist on campus due to previous under-enrollment issues.

The administration has decided it is best to cut down on the cost of upkeep, utilities and housekeeping by closing one of the residence buildings. Brown also claimed that more room was required by the college for “academic and administrative reasons,” and that this is what Calvert would be used for in the Fall 2015 semester. Calvert is the only dorm at the college on the historic side of campus, and is the farthest from the main cluster of dorms, which made up of Prince George (PG), Dorchester and Caroline. Because of the distance, Calvert has long had a reputation for fostering close friendships amongst students living there, facilitating recreation and activities separate from the activities of North Campus, and providing housing to individuals with health concerns.

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, a meeting was held in Calvert Hall to address student concerns related to the reallocation of Calvert’s space. In a follow-up email, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Joanne Goldwater stated that students had also voiced concerns at Tuesday’s SGA meeting, as well as with President Tuajuanda Jordan, Dean Brown and herself. The follow up addressed several student concerns, and gave detailed answers to student questions.

Several important new details were given in the emails. The closing of Calvert stands to save the college ten thousand dollars in utilities and upkeep. The previously planned renovation of Calvert has been suspended in light of this development, saving the college an additional two hundred and thirty thousand dollars, as well as several other miscellaneous fees. The quiet wings of Calvert will be replaced with two extended quiet wings in Caroline Hall. Medical singles in the other dorms will also be provided to students who require them. The email seemed to confirm that Calvert will not shut down completely, and will still function as an office and academic space. Goldwater also stated that it is the college’s hope the closing will be temporary.  “It is my hope that once our enrollment returns to our normal level, we will reopen Calvert as a residence hall,” said Goldwater in the email.

Goldwater later emailed me personally, confirming several of these details. “It is my hope that once the College’s enrollment increases, we will be able to reopen the residential space in Calvert Hall.” she said. “The residential space is not undergoing renovation work this summer as originally planned since we will not be using the space for housing. We will revisit the renovations in the future.”

The Student Government Association (SGA) Senator for Calvert, Cody Dorsey, indicated that he was understanding of why the change must happen. “With this year’s budget proposal by Governor Larry Hogan,” said Dorsey, “I am not surprised by the college having to make some tough decisions. The announcement of closing Calvert was last minute – a month before housing selection begins, but I respect the decision that was made, especially if it is to save money for the institution that is currently seeing low enrollment.” The residence hall will officially close in May of 2015.

Students with concerns about their housing selection and the future of Calvert may contact Residence Life for more information.

100 Days

The evening of Thursday, Feb. 5 marked 100 days until graduation for seniors who celebrated the start of their countdown at The Green Door. For those planning to graduate in May, this night marked one of the many “lasts” leading up to graduation.

With their new senior pint glasses in hand, the Class of 2015 spent the evening at The Door catching up with old friends and classmates. The bar was full with music, laughter, and the sound of clinking pint glasses. At first glance, the night slightly resembled that first orientation assembly, only rather than meeting new classmates, they were catching up with old friends.

“I thought 100 days would be just another obligatory rite of passage for seniors,” said Senior Natalie Van Sant. “It was actually quite lovely to spend an evening with a lot of the people I’ve known over the past four years. It was also a very welcome preview of senior week!”

Senior Nicole Jackson also enjoyed her night at The Door as the first of many last celebrations.

“100 Days was a great moment to take a break out of our busy schedules and enjoy the few days we have left together as a senior class on the river,” said Jackson

The night was a bittersweet reminder that graduation is near, and that the past four years of sentimental memories created in St. Mary’s are quickly coming to a close, but not quite yet.

Now that 100 days is officially behind the senior class, there are many other rapidly approaching dates for the Class of 2015, the first of which is 50 Days on March 27th, also to be held at The Green Door.

Despite the impending milestones marking the end of the Class of 2015’s days at St. Mary’s, seniors were able to make the most of the evening. Music and drinks flowed later into the night, as stories and laughs were shared among old friends.

Sustainability Update

St. Mary’s students, with our picturesque location on the river and the intensity of the nature that surrounds us, tend to think of our college as a particularly green one. But what is actually going on to benefit the environment on campus? I sat down with Sustainability Office fellow Shelby Kalm, a recent St. Mary’s grad, and intern Kate Cowart to discuss ongoing and upcoming projects.

The sustainability-focused LIFE Fair went off on Wednesday Feb. 11. Job fairs sponsored by the Career Center are a usual occurrence on campus, but this was the first year that a fair for environmentally focused careers and internship opportunities came to St. Mary’s, recruited by both Student Services and the Sustainability Office. Close to 50 organizations were represented, some of whom had recent St. Mary’s graduates coming down to table for them. An estimated 200+ students showed up in their best professional wear toting their freshly printed résumés.

New work is also being done on the Campus Farm. As of last summer, produce from the club-directed farm contributes to what Bon Appetit serves in the Great Room, and in turn, compost from student housing and the dining hall is used as fertilizer.

“The greenhouse has been a great way to make the whole school a stakeholder in sustainability,” said senior Kate Cowart, lead Sustainability intern, referring to the $5000 grant won from the Fork to Farm program last semester. The grant was used to purchase a redwood A-frame greenhouse that students are now helping to construct. In fact, early in February, almost too many student volunteers showed up to the initial construction project, all eager to help out by digging trenches and setting the hoophouse’s foundation. More opportunities to volunteer at the Campus Farm will be making their way to student inboxes.

Arbor Week will be from March 30th-April 4th. Speakers from the National Arboretum will be visiting, and SMCM professors will be giving talks on art and naturalism. Other activities like yoga, green tours of campus, and movie screenings will help mark a week of celebration for trees and the environment. And later that month, the Green Cup will be back to challenge students to use less energy in the dorms and living areas.

Last semester a full time Environmental Studies faculty member was added to St. Mary’s staff. Dr. Barry Muchnick has been leading the new Sustainability Practicum course, ENST450, in which students complete independent projects on topics like food and electronics waste on campus. “The class gives students a way to work hands-on with sustainability practices on campus,” said Shelby Kalm. The Environmental Studies department is working closely with the Sustainability Office as a resource in order to increase the visibility of environmental issues at SMCM. The department is currently pushing through a plan for an Environmental Studies major, which is currently only offered as a minor course of studies.

“I think right now we’re in an upswing [of environmental awareness],” said Kalm. “People are getting involved in more projects, and…with the potential for a major I think there’s a lot more energy around things environmental.”

The student body is largely involved with green efforts on campus by way of clubs like the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) and the Environmental Protection Committee, a branch of SGA. The EPC is closely involved with the Climate Action Plan, set forth by St. Mary’s back in 2011, which hopes to make the school energy net-neutral by 2020 (meaning we would offset our carbon production entirely).  Just this year SMCM was put on the EPA’s Top 30 list of universities that are using green power.

But Cowart also wants to remind students of the ways they can get involved in their daily lives, just by establishing practices like turning off lights and minding how much waste they generate. “You have to put it in perspective of how small actions can really affect your whole game plan,” said Cowart.

Students Fight for Military Service ELAW

Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World, or ELAW, is something that all SMCM students have to consider. The pre-approved ways to fulfill this graduation requirement as listed on the SMCM website are: “A study tour, or a semester- or year-long study abroad program; A credit-bearing internship; A service or experiential learning class; By petition, through certain kinds of independent studies or off-campus research experiences that help students meet the goals of the requirement.” These learning objectives are pretty clear, and, to paraphrase the website, include gaining firsthand knowledge beyond the college campus or outside academia, participating in activities that are worthy of at least four credits, developing broader educational goals, gaining exposure to other perspectives, and critically evaluating these experiences.
Bradley Putnam, a US Marine, and a student here at SMCM, believes his military service should count as an ELAW experience; however, the school does not have military service on the list of pre-approved ELAW options. Bradley believes that his mission on his 7 month deployment to Afghanistan, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, was, above all else, a mission to promote and ensure peace: “Our main tasks were to interact with and protect the local population, and to train them to defend themselves.” This, in Bradley’s mind, fulfills the requirements for ELAW credit.
Thankfully, Bradley did not have to go through this process alone. Bradley reached out to the College Democrats here on campus who have been supporting Bradley through the process of petitioning. Brendan Benge of the College Democrats said, “We at the club were unaware of the school’s policy against ELAW credit for military service, so we jumped at the chance to help him.” The College Dems, recognizing this as a bipartisan issue of proper recognition of military service, reached out to the College Republican’s exec board, and the two clubs together wrote a letter to the academic policy board. Benge spoke for the club and said, “We here at the College Democrats feel so strongly about this issue, because a simple change in this schools policy can help our nation’s veterans graduate more easily,” adding, “While allowing military service to count towards ELAW credit is a small step towards achieving this goal, it remains an important one for veterans such as Bradley.”
The SMCM Academic Policy Committee approved Bradley Putnam’s petition on  January 29th, which is another step towards becoming more veteran friendly for SMCM. The school is already a Yellow Ribbon school, a program created to assist veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for school. Bradley told The Point News that he’d “like to thank everyone who signed the online petition, and especially Roderick Lewis and the work he did with the student Democratic and Republican Societies writing a letter of support on my behalf.” Bradley is glad of his petitions approval partially because he is a “big supporter of the ELAW requirement of the core curriculum,” and hopes that his petition will “set a precedent and encourage other veterans at SMCM with abroad experience to apply for ELAW credit.”

Books from A-Z

As a long-time book lover with far-sweeping tastes (meaning I will read literally anything), I have recommendations for fans of all genres. To try and touch all sorts of readers, this spring we’ll be moving through a book for every letter of the alphabet! First up: race-driven realistic fiction, sordid satire, artistic alternate-reality, and flighty fantasy.

Americanah — by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You might have heard about Adichie from the excerpt of her TED talk that got sampled in the Beyoncé song “Flawless” a few years back. Her best-seller Americanah reads like a memoir of Ifemelu, a woman who emigrates from Nigeria to the United States for school. The novel starts 15 years after Ifemelu has been in the U.S., and skips around from her childhood until then, sometimes switching to the perspective of Obinze, her high school love who remained in Nigeria. Much of her story surrounds her tender relationships both with family and lovers, the growing unrest she has in her own identity, and the lines of race she encounters in America — all told in Ifemelu’s thoughtful, snarky, and perceptive voice.

Bumped — by Megan McCafferty

The set-up is this: a fertility-ravaging plague has spread over Earth. Teenagers are spared, and encouraged to procreate, which quickly spurs a high-stakes surrogacy industry. Fertile, genetically-prime girls are “pro-preggers”; virile, genetically-prime boys are “studs.” Bumped is littered with invented slang and little details like a pre-natal flavor of Doritos. This isn’t a dictatorship-esque Hunger Games; the society created in Bumped has the same motivations of profit and fame that keeps the Teen Mom series alive and running. It’s a satire, and a fairly ridiculous one at that (often so gross that it makes this book fairly polarizing). The plot is, granted, strange and clichéd, and not enough to make me read the sequel, but the set-up was engaging enough that I still recommend it. It’s not a stretch from our world to theirs, at least in the ways society preys on the sexuality of teenage girls.

Cathy’s Book — by Jordan Weisman and Sean Stewart

An old favorite and still under-appreciated series, Cathy’s Book is an urban fantasy told through the interactive pseudo-journals of its restless, artistic heroine. The pages are riddled with Cathy’s sketches as she unfolds a conspiracy-laden mystery that circles around her ex-boyfriend and maybe even her long-dead father. You can call the phone numbers you find inside, and visit the websites, and pull out some of Cathy’s art for your own, but your narrator (and her friends that get tangled up in her troubles) is so fleshed out and flawed that she pulls you in herself.

Daughter of the Forest — by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier retells the Grimm fairytale of “The Six Swans” in a vivid Celtic setting. Young Sorcha, seventh daughter of a seventh son, takes on a painful quest to end the curse that turned her six, loving older brothers into swans. Daughter of the Forest is full of that sort of rich, high fantasy elements that can be cloying for some, but most of the time is indescribably satisfying. At turns a painful coming of age story and an indulgent romance, Daughter of the Forest is for fans of historical dramas and fantasy alike.