Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier
Published by Macmillan Australia on October 1st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Suspense
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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 voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
I read Dreamer’s Pool in book form…as in paper. I haven’t read a book with paper in years and I admit, I tapped a few times before I remembered to turn the page. I also kept looking to the top of the page to check the time. Who’d have thought that the act of turning pages in a book would become unfamiliar? By halfway I’d stopped tapping luckily and was fully engrossed in this wonderful tale full of adventure, mystery, magic and romance.
When I started Dreamer’s Pool, I was intrigued with the gritty and dark start to the story. Intolerable conditions had left Lady (aka Slut and Filthy Whore) beaten and nearly broken. Her fellow inmates were in the same condition, but the prisoner opposite, Grim, was always there to talk to in her darkest hour. The story starts the night before she is set to face the council to tell her story. Her imprisonment was due to her speaking out against the Chieftan of the area, Mathuin. He is an evil man and her life and thoughts are consumed with revenge against the injustices performed at his hands. She is approached by one of the Fey, Conmael, who has a proposition for her. If she is willing to abort her plans for revenge, he will help her escape. There are conditions that need to be filled and at first Lady is hesitant. She must leave, return to her old career as a wise woman and healer and head towards an unknown place with a new name, Blackthorn. She eventually accepts the conditions and finds herself on a new path…with Grim following close behind.
Grim hasn’t had it easy either. He was a giant of a man who’s nickname was Bonehead. Grim has a wee bit of a temper and a few times we see the red haze descend and take away his control. With no faith in himself, he feels comfort in Blackthorn’s company. He follows her to protect her, liking the feeling of purpose it gives him. To be honest Grim was my favourite character.
Their journey takes them to Dalriada where they serve as magical healer and handyman under the rule of Prince Oran. Prince Oran is himself on a journey…to true love. He is betrothed to a beautiful maiden named Flidais. They have been corresponding for some time and feel they would make a good match. Unfortunately on her journey to Oran an accident happens and Flidais’ maid is killed. When Flidais and her party arrive Oran is excited to see her. It doesn’t take Oran long to realise that the woman in front of him, might not be his dream woman after all.
Blackthorn, Grim and Oran must come together to work out mysteries and intrigues within Dalriada. Each face their own challenges and find help and support from the people of Dalriada, Conmael and each other.
While not my normal read, it was very enjoyable. The romance is subtle and sweet between Prince Oran and Flidais. This is not a love story for Blackthorn and Grim. Their relationship is centred around support and friendship, which in their case, is perfect for them.
Juliet Marillier has an amazing ability to make you see the world she has created and believe that magic is real. I was in the head of each character and could feel the anguish, despair and loneliness each felt. I also enjoyed working through the mysteries with the characters and felt the satisfaction when everything was solved.
Sassy rates this one 4 Stars.
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