Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier
Narrator: Natalie Gold, Nick Sullivan, Scott Aiello
Series: Blackthorn & Grim #1
Also by this author: Tower of Thorns
Published by Roc on October 1, 2014
Length: 17 hours 44 minutes
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
Dreamer’s Pool is a truly captivating fairy tale, but keep in mind, many fairy tales are really quite dark. One of the first things to surprise me is how incredibly dark the beginning of this book is. I see the pretty cover, start reading and was just really quite taken by the grimness. But this is because two of our three POVs start this story together in a really, really dark place. As they move past that place, the story becomes less dark, but that experience never leaves characters, there is always some darkness shadowing over them, especially Blackthorn.
Blackthorn and Grim (the two POVs I mentioned starting in a dark place), meet in a prison, but one that is much darker and less humane that what you might imagine. Really, it’s just plain horrific, the type of place that makes people wonder if death is potentially a better option. Blackthorn is an incredibly strong women who has gone through hell. Perhaps going through and surviving hell is what made her strong. She describes losing her sense of humanity and self in that place, being reduced to a ‘thing’ that just kept living. This book is not out for shock value, the story just starts incredibly grim.
That brings me to our next character, who actually goes by the name Grim. You can immediately tell something is just a bit different with Grim. He sometimes refers to himself as slow, but honestly, reading his POV, I think others may perceive him as slow, but he is certainly not completely lacking intelligence. I think he is just not astute in the typical ways. And he is incredibly devoted to helping and protecting Blackthorn.
We don’t know much about the history of these two characters, especially in the beginning. But that is part of the fun, wondering and hoping to get bits of information, and honestly just getting to know both Blackthorn and Grim. They both have a history that placed them in that prison where they met and you can’t help but to want to know what they were like before landing there, as well as why they were in there.
Blackthorn is made an offer that she is not in a position to turn down, regardless of how skeptical she may be of the person offering it. Part of this offer requires her to travel to Winterfalls, the place where we meet our third POV.
Prince Oran has been pressured by his mother to settle down and get married. To start providing the throne with future heirs. He is a poetic soul, that is taken by the idea of romance, so he has been quite reluctant. Until his latest match. You can’t help but like Prince Oran. He is a romantic, and his is also a people’s leader, a royal who actually meets with the people and listens to them. He is interested in making them happy, not just exerting power. He thinks he has finally found love (in an arranged marriage to a women he has yet to meet in person).
The story really takes an interesting turn as Prince Oran’s fiancee’s party meets tragedy on their way to Winterfall. There is definitely a mystery to figure out, something not quite right, and you can’t help but suspect fae interference, but you don’t know how or why. You just have to keep turning pages, reading until you learn more and more about the story and the characters.
I feel like no words of mine can do justice to this story. It is a truly magical journey of words that captivates the reader from beginning to end.