I loved Wildwood Dancing and after reading Cybele's Secret couldn't decide which of the two I liked the most.
Several years have past since the end of Wildwood Dancing, and scholarly seventeen-year-old Paula is about to accompany her father on his trading voyage to Istanbul where she will act as his assistant in his mission to purchase a rare artifact--the gift of the ancient pagan goddess Cybele to her followers. This artifact is the only remnant of a lost pagan cult. As Paula and her father embark on the search, it soon becomes clear that they are playing at a deadly game. A colleague is murdered and whisperings of the cult be revived in Istanbul swirl. But most telling of all is that signs have begun to appear to Paula. Signs that can only be coming from the Other Kingdom, signs that urger her to unlock Cybele's Secret. Paula is in a strange land and isn't sure who she can trust and before long finds herself drawn to two very different men: one a smooth and dashing pirate or her quiet bodyguard. As Paula begins to unravel the puzzle, she realizes that at stake is not only her life, but the life and happiness of her sister, the unfulfilled debt of a friend and possibility of true love. Paula must solve the puzzle before an unknown, but deadly, enemies catch up to her.
With the vibrant backdrop of the Ottoman empire, Marillier effortless weaves the wonderful fantasy into the sites and sounds of Turkey. Multiple plots filled with pirates, adventure, love, questioning of 16th century belief are all twisted together in such a way that we are left guessing right up to the end how it will all turn out and if our predictions were right. Once the puzzle is solved, wraps up, readers will not be disappointed. One of the things that I liked most about this book, which was also something I enjoyed from Wildwood, was that Paula is a strong character. She doesn't hide or diminish the fact that she is smart and wants to be seen as more than just “curves and smiles, blushes and modest speech.”