Series: Blackthorn and Grim #1
Published by Roc on November 4, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy
My Reviews in this series: Dreamer's Pool
*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
Award-winning author Juliet Marillier “weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page” (The Book Smugglers). Now she begins an all-new and enchanting series that will transport readers to a magical vision of ancient Ireland...
In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she'll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.
Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.
With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.
I loved loved loved Dreamer’s Pool! The gorgeous cover, the evocative title, cool names like “Blackthorn & Grim” all held great promise and I am pleased to report that the promise inherent in these items is not only met, it is exceeded. =) Happy day!
In this book, Juliet Marillier introduces us to a prisoner, kept in filthy conditions and waiting for her chance to speak against the evil Chieftan who wrongly imprisoned her for speaking out against him. Her companions, prisoners in other cells are a sad and sorry lot, especially the strong Grim whose nickname “bonehead” is uttered by everyone but the lady. When a chance at escape comes, but with the high price of setting her vengeance aside for 7 years, our prisoner chooses to accept the offer instead of the murder that the Chieftain had planned. The prisoner chooses the name Blackthorn and traveling reluctantly with Grim she travels to where her benefactor insists to ply her healers art, refusing no one who asks for help. In the town of Winterfalls, house of the noble Prince Oran, Blackthorn and Grim make their home and learn to fit in after their horrible imprisonment. They solve mysteries and work together to heal themselves and others, and when Prince Oran comes to them to find out about his betrothed’ strange, fey behavior they find themselves deep into a mystery where the consequences are far reaching… and may bring them to the notice of the evil chieftain Mathuin whom they have just escaped from.
Overall, I loved the rawness, mystery and magic in this story. Juliet Marillier is a masterful storyteller, and I loved how she gave us parts of the pasts of our three main characters and POVs (Blackthorn, Grim and Oran). Having three POVs was also an excellent decision and it gave me an excellent overview of the development of the situation, and not just one part of it. I particularly liked Blackthorn, and my heart broke as her story unfolded. None of these characters are paragons of virtue, but they all ring true and their faults are human and understandable. In the same situation, I would probably behave worse.
I enjoyed that there was a fey element. I believe this to be set in Ireland of our past, or possible an alternate past. The country was Called “Erin” and the names sounded Gaelic and had all of the lovely, if crazy, letters. There was not a ton of landscape descriptions. But this is a novel of people and their follies. There were enough descriptions of the area around Winterfalls to get a vivid picture of the area. There is also strategy and a brewing war which should figure into future novels. The crime solving/mystery solving element was unexpected in a novel of this nature and I loved it. There is no romance or possible romance for our 2 main characters, but the secondary string romance was lovely.
There are still many questions to be answered, and one evil chieftain to be brought to justice. There are tricky fae to watch out for and magic pools to explore. Traveling folk abound, and a history for our dear Grim… so much to look forward to! Overall, I loved this novel and I can’t wait for the next one! Many thanks to Juliet Marillier who has a winner with Dreamer’s Pool. This first Blackthorn & Grim is on my short list for favorite novel of the year.
If you’re an audiobook listener – have a listen to this audio clip of the book from Audible.com.