Tower of Thorns (Blackthorn and Grim #2) by Juliet Marillier

Can Juliet Marillier weave a wonderful story or what? Having loved the first book in this series, I couldn’t wait to read Tower of Thorns and find out more about two characters who captured my heart and imagination, the irascible but wise and flawed Blackthorn and her dedicated companion, the huge man of few words, Grim.

imgresIn this book, Blackthorn, reluctant healer with vengeance on her mind, and Grim, are asked to help a distraught noblewoman, Lady Geiléis, whose land is cursed by a wailing monster trapped in a thorn-wrapped tower and whose misery has caused a blight to fall across her lands and test the very health and sanity of her folk.

Bound by a promise to one of the fey, Blackthorn has little choice but to help this strange woman, a woman who for all she claims to need assistance in ridding her people of this curse does not seem overly keen to help. On the contrary, she appears to want to thwart Blackthorn’s efforts to understand who the monster is and why he is so desolate and why this affects the land. Clearly, there is some larger secret to which Blackthorn is not privy but which both she and Grim know they must uncover before the deadline of Midsummer’s Eve, and the possible breaking of the curse, is reached.

As Blackthorn tries to learn what she can from various reticent residents – both within the castle and without – the very handy and reliable Grim reluctantly agrees to help nearby monks restore their decaying buildings. But Grim finds the task almost too much for him and not because the shrieking monster tries his reason. No. Like Blackthorn, Grim carries secrets from his past, secrets that become an ever-growing burden and which threaten to undo him.

In the meantime, as Midsummer’s Eve approaches, Blackthorn tries desperately to learn what she can about the history of this place and its people, but the more she discovers, the more its apparent there’s something being withheld, something that threatens not only those living in thrall of the tower, but Blackthorn and Grim as well.

Once again, Marillier transports readers back to Ancient Ireland and its wild land where faerie folk live side by side with ordinary humans (whether they acknowledge them or not) and the very grass and hills thrum with magic. Unfolding like a dark fairytale, one that captures you by the throat and won’t release you, the sense of foreboding increases with every page as you try to second guess what is happening and who or what is working with and against Blackthorn and Grim and what their intentions are. The reader is also given more insights into Blackthorn and Grim’s tragic pasts, the experiences they endured and which have shaped them into the strong-willed, stubborn yet endearingly vulnerable pair they are now.

Spellbinding writing that elicits a dreamy but uncanny mood and, as all Marillier’s books are, is laced with deeper meaning.

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Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

I have to say upfront, not only do I simply adore all Juliet Marillier’s books, and her lyrical writing style, but when the opportunity came to read an ARC of her latest, Dreamer’s Pool, anDreamer's Pool (Blackthorn and Grim, #1)d review it, I quickly threw my hat in the ring, or keyboard into cyberspace, knowing I wouldn’t regret it. I was right.

Dreamer’s Pool is the first in a new series, Blackthorn and Grim, set in Ancient Ireland. While it tells the story of the terribly bitter and deeply tragic healer, Blackthorn (who is as prickly as her name), and her silent, stoic and loyal companion Grim, who due to the interference of a fey lord are released from what appears to be unjust imprisonment on terms Blackthorn at least rails against, the novel is told by three distinct voices: Blackthorn’s, Grim’s and the young Prince, Oran, who is to be wed to the woman of his dreams.

Forced to abide in a part of the country previously unknown to them and which is Prince Oran’s demesne, and hauntingly lovely, Blackthorn must heal and help any who ask. A brilliant is somewhat unwilling healer, what Blackthorn does not expect is to be called to the aid of the prince’s bride-to-be, the beautiful Flidais, when calamity strikes her party while enroute to meet the groom. Death is never a great omen for forthcoming nuptials, but when Prince Oran cannot reconcile the reality of his soon-to-be wife with the darling, sweet and learned Flidais who exchanged letters with him for months prior to her arrival, he calls upon Blackthorn and Grim to help him uncover the truth.

But Blackthorn and Grim have their own pasts and ways of dealing with those they encounter in the present and Blackthorn especially, while she always knows what to do to heal others, believes vengeance is the only panacea for what ails her. Until she recognises the truth in her purpose, and those who believe in her, she is doomed to repeat history’s mistakes and bring more disaster in her wake.

This is a simply gorgeous story with wonderful, intriguing and complex characters, some with dark, wretched pasts, who carry emotional baggage like a hair shirt and find relationships difficult. It also contains a range of naïve, wise and trusting people and those who would betray and abuse this trust. Written in exquisite and addictive prose, each voice rings emotionally true and you find yourself championing and understanding them, even when their choices don’t seem shrewd. This is a tale that will tug at your heart and, like the fable that it draws upon, linger in your head and soul for days afterwards. I cannot wait for the next instalment in this series.

Below is a fabulous sample from Chapter One of the audio book from Audible Studios – just click, listen and enjoy!

Sample of audio book Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

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