by Juliet Marillier is a strong starting book for her series, Blackthorn and Grim
. It hooks you immediately, with the pages opening in a murky prison where our leading lady Blackthorn, a healer with a dark past, has been locked-up wrongfully. Blackthorn thinks she’s up for a death sentence, but a mysterious fae appears and offers her a reprieve –he will help her escape if she agrees to help anyone who asks her for help for the next 7 years. And when I say anyone, I mean anyone.
Blackthorn accepts, and finds her way to a province ruled by Prince Oran, which is not as cozy as it seems. Oran, helpless in the face of his troubles, asks Blackthorn for help.
The story is told in multiple and alternating POV which works well without the jarring or abrupt cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that so many fantasy writers like to use. But much of the middle of the book felt like a drag, because Oran’s narratives felt too YA-ish. No doubt that’s because he’s a young, lovesick, perplexed chap, but I just could not connect on an emotional plane with his bag of woes.Dreamer’s Pool
is essentially a folk tale-cum-fairy tale about a mysterious mirror-like lake (hence, the title of the book) in that province, and comes with the necessary insights into domesticity and country life. I was happy to see Marillier return with her fae plotlines as well, and if you like Patricia McKillip
, you will like this book as well.
The final section of the book was where the story really caught on, and for that alone, you should read it. Something alien lives in that lake, something that affects everyone around— especially Prince Oran, and Marillier captures that feeling of suspense really well in the last half of the book.
But best of all, and my favourite part of the book, was Grim. Grim is an interesting character; his poor self-esteem (a result of his past incarceration) coupled with his innate kindness makes a beautiful foil to Blackthorn, whose past has made her bitter, hard and cynical. The two together made a great detective team, but Grim, aww Grim. Somebody should tell him not to worry, he’s a great person – maybe Blackthorn will, in the next book.
Rating: 8/ 10. Recommended.