Home / Book Review / Stellar Wildwood Companion | Book Review: Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

Stellar Wildwood Companion | Book Review: Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

Cybele’s Secret is another item in a long list of reasons why everyone should read books by Juliet Marillier!

Book Review: Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

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cybele's secret juliet marillier book review

Title & Author: Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling

Release Date: September 9, 2008

Series: Wildwood #2

Publisher: Knopf

How I Got the Book: Bought


“FOR PAULA, ACCOMPANYING her merchant father on a trading voyage to Istanbul is a dream come true. They have come to this city of trade on a special mission to purchase a most rare artifact—a gift from the ancient goddess, Cybele, to her followers. It’s the only remnant of a lost, pagan cult.

But no sooner have they arrived when it becomes clear they may be playing at a dangerous game. A colleague and friend of Paula’s father is found murdered. There are rumors of Cybele’s cult reviving within the very walls of Istanbul. And most telling of all, signs have begun to appear to Paula, urging her to unlock Cybele’s secret.

Meanwhile, Paula doesn’t know who she can trust in Istanbul, and finds herself drawn to two very different men. As time begins to run out, Paula realizes they may all be tied up in the destiny of Cybele’s Gift, and she must solve the puzzle before unknown but deadly enemies catch up to her. . . . ”

Fantastic Companion Book

After dealing with a wicked book hangover from Wildwood Dancing, I immediately purchased Cybele’s Secret, the companion novel.

The book is not a direct sequel; it features Paula, the scholarly sister from the first book. It’s set in Istanbul, and could not be more different than the first novel.

At first, I was completely put off by the very different voice and setting. One of the things I loved best about Wildwood Dancing was the…wildwood and the dancing (very deep thoughts, you’re welcome). But seriously, I enjoyed the setting of the Other Kingdom in a hidden-away forest.

After the shock wore away, I sunk into the dusky and exotic new setting and enjoyed the logical but relatable person of Paula.

She’s got a very curious mind, and I enjoyed her pursuit of knowledge. While many YA characters fall into traps of naiveté, Paula often acted wise beyond her years by tempering her emotions with cool deduction, which I very much enjoyed.

The plot is well-timed, and I like all the new people Paula and her father meet. They’re visiting to acquire a rare artifact they hope to trade, so there’s a great deal of secrecy as to who the buyers are and what others will bid, etc.

There’s a bit of a love triangle in the story, BUT it’s handled really well, and per usual, Paula keeps thing classy. I loved both of her love interests, but one really stole my heart!! SWOON

I can only hope Marillier may one day return to this family and tell the last sister’s tale!


Despite the story and characters taking a 180 from the previous book, this companion novel was a added its own flair with new characters and an enticing setting. Cybele’s Secret is a must-read for Wildwood Dancing fans and anyone who loves YA fantasy!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Tine

    OOOH I loved reading this book so much! I felt like I was on vacation in Istanbul every time I opened it up – Juliet Marillier really knows how to create atmospheric settings (Sevenwaters feels like a second home to me). And I related to Paula a lot too. I also like how every little detail on the cover actually relates to something in the story, you don’t see that often and it makes me think of one those big renaissance paintings. Anyways, glad to hear you ended up enjoying it!