"We needed to acknowledge that love was not just kisses, smiles, and fulfillment, but also sacrifice, compromise, and hard work." pg 367At a glance, it is not difficult to determine that Wildwood Dancing is a tale about the transition between child and adolescence. Marillier weighs in the pros and cons about losing your innocence and the trails and advantages of leaving the safe, magical world of childhood. Ultimately, everyone is torn away from their childhood to enter into a new world. Marillier points out that growing up is an adventure as well, and that the younger adolescent years can be a time of magic and adventure just as well.Juliet Marillier brings in the elements of Romanian mythology into the fold of her story. She points out that some of the characters in the book have the same origin as the infamous Dracula, but she dodges the label and substitutes the original name, Night People, for her story. The book overall is a wonderful lesson into the culture and history of Transylvania, and I applaud Marillier for digging deeper, and using her knowledge and insight to portray the settlement into a new light. Wildwood Dancing ha a backdrop that is rich and colorful, and the author performs her job as a writer beautifully as the introduces the magical elements of the world without hitting her audience over the head with in-depth details and explanations. In the field of characters and main protagonist, this book is a much-needed break from the formulaic players in the story. Jena, as most young adult main characters, lacks charm and exterior glamour of two of her sisters. However, the story does not simply follow Jena's own story, but also forks off into her Tati's, her older sister, love story and winning her own battle of love. Tati was overall a weak character, and at times I often wanted to slap some sense into her. But diverting some of the attention away from Jena onto the other sister developed the story, and worked to strengthen the vivid complexity of the tale. I wish that the other 3 sisters had a larger role to play, and often, the other three girls were used more as story props than actual people.The villains or antagonist of the story is also an elaborate plot device of the story. Simply pinning Cesar, Jena's one time friend and growing foe of the story, is too simplistic for this tale. Yes, the guy turned into a person I ended up despising, but Marillier always casts a light into the interior of the character's development. Cesar is a twisted, hurting person, who sees himself as the hero of his own story. His own decisions and his thoughts make him the antagonist. The reader is simply not handed this character, then told by the author that "Here, here is your Bad Guy. Now hate him." I cannot say how many times I have read a story and wondered why the adversary THEM. Nothing starts out evil, so why should we accept that this character is a horrible person? Cesar's own internal pain twisted him into a monster, and even though I could go back and point out that, at one time, this character was not simply an evil person. His decisions and actions were evil. I am very upset that this book is over! Swallowing the lump in my throat was difficult as I finished off this one. Don't expect a clean cut, fairy tale ending. Just like life, Marillier and Jena look for to life and the great undiscovered country of the future that lays like a road at their feet.