Thursday, December 3, 2015
Review: Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn & Grim #1) by Juliet Marillier
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. ~ Goodreads
Source: Finished copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
I usually steer clear of fantasy and the fae in my reading but so many of my friends recommended this series I decided to give it a try and I’m happy I did.
Dreamer’s Pool is fantasy but the emphasis is on character development rather than overblown details of things like blades of grass, skies and obscure languages. Marillier is descriptive enough to plunge you into a world that feels *other* but never goes so far that you need a flow chart to keep track of the whole thing.
The same goes for the fae. They are there, you know no good can come from dealing with the them, but, at least for now, they are in the periphery, influencing Blackthorn’s future, but never to the point that you feel she isn’t also acting on her own – making her own choices. And I have to admit, I’m kind of intrigued by the fae and what their intentions are in this case.
Now onto the best part of Dreamer’s Pool.
Blackthorn and Grim. They were both held in a prison for almost a year. They’ve seen each other at their absolute worst - abused and broken. They aren’t really friends at all but Grim has taken to keeping a protective eye on Blackthorn.
When Blackthorn is given an opportunity from the fae to escape (with strings of course – because FAE!) she finds herself obligated to let Grim tag along. Their completely platonic relationship was a joy to read.
Blackthorn is very bitter young woman, bent on vengeance. But she’s also a healer, in debt to the fae. Those two things are often hard for her to reconcile but Grim is a constant presence, bringing honesty and devotion to her, without crowding or pushing her into doing anything she isn't ready for.
Grim….oh poor Grim. He’s just so big, awkward and sweet. And lost. After years in prison he needs to be near people – whereas Blackthorn wants to be alone.
I loved watching them develop a tentative friendship that allows them both bend a little to help each other survive their trauma. They’re both so broken that it’s difficult for them to trust, form bonds or friendships but somehow, slowly, they let each other in. Again – this is pure friendship – zero romance.
Blackthorn is obligated to help anyone who asks for it and gets drawn into the mystery of the Dreamer’s Pool, forcing her to work with a young prince named Oran. It was nice to read about a prince who wasn’t an arrogant jerk, who wants to be a good leader and find true love but I have to say – his pov chapters were blah in comparison to Blackthorn and Grim’s.
If you’re looking for a new fantasy series with folklore/magic/mythology elements but is much stronger and focused on long term character arc development than big action sequences – then this might be the series for you. If you’re read and enjoyed Anne Bishop’s Others series - this is very similar.