Review: Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
Narrator: Natalie Gold, Nick Sullivan, Susannah Jones
Series: Blackthorn & Grim #2
Also by this author: Dreamer's Pool
Published by Roc on November 3rd 2015
Length: 15 hours 59 minutes
Source: Ace Roc Stars, Publisher
Also in this series: Dreamer's Pool
Award-winning author Juliet Marillier’s “lavishly detailed”* Blackthorn & Grim series continues as a mysterious creature holds an enchanted and imperiled ancient Ireland in thrall.
Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.
Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.
As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.
Tower of Thorns is the second novel in Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorn and Grim series. If you missed my review, I loved Dreamer’s Pool and really can’t stress just how addictive and enjoyable I find these books to be. They have a darkness to them, but overall I find they tend to be feel-good stories. If you haven’t read Dreamer’s Pool, I recommend you read that review instead of this one because there are some potential spoilers for the first book in this review.
One small town in the north is plagued with hideous howling every day. The howls come from an old tower that is surrounded/blocked by thick thorns. No one is quite sure what kind of creature it is, if the howls are from fury or pain, but the sounds it makes are horrendous to listen to. Lady Geiléis is the noblewoman who owns the land and she has requested help from the Prince of Dalriada, who in turn looks to Blackthorn and Grim. Since Blackthorn is still under her agreement with the fae to always provide help when asked, she has agreed to help and well, Grim tends to go wherever Blackthorn goes.
So once again, Blackthorn and Grim are tasked with solving a mystery and as you might imagine, there is some involvement with the fae. I love how Marillier creates these fairy tales that feel very much like familiar fairy tales but yet feel completely new and leave me guessing what is going on and what will happen. She has such phenomenal storytelling skills and my connection with both Blackthorn and Grim is so strong, I care so much about what happens to these two. They both have dark histories and as a reader, I just want them to find happiness. That has not changed.
At the end of the last book, we had learned a good bit about Blackthorn’s past, but Grim was still a bit of mystery. OK, Grim was still a complete mystery. I was really hoping we’d learn more about him, and was not let down. We get answers about where he came from and what he did before we met him in the prison with Lady (Blackthorn) in Dreamer’s Pool, and as you might imagine, it is a heart breaking story. Marillier knows how to give her characters some gut wrenching backstories! We also get a to meet a character from Blackthorn’s past. It was an interesting dynamic to see the dynamics and interactions between Blackthorn and Grim and this person that knew Blackthorn in what I want to call her “real” life, but is really her life before she lost everything.
Everything I loved in the first book in terms of the personalities of both Blackthorn and Grim are all very present here. Grim continues in his quiet way, working hard, being smart and logical, being someone you feel other people overlook too easily. He’s just the kind of guy you would want as a friend to back you up because his loyalty and fortitude are amazing. Blackthorn is still a woman who speaks her mind, and is prepared to do whatever she needs to do. Even if its not necessarily what others would advise or approve of. You have to love her for that.
Tower of Thorns captivated me from the very beginning, left me guessing as the story progressed and took some turns I didn’t see coming. It was a wonderful blend of both darkness and hope that left me feeling good and happy. I am incredibly attached to her characters and am very anxious to find out what the next book has in store for them. Highly recommended.
Audiobook Note: I find this series to be very well suited to audio. The story is easy to follow and remember and the narration is very well done. I absolutely love Nick Sullivan’s narration for Grim. His voice is deep and powerful, yet his tone and delivery is more soft and mellow, much like Grim.