Award-winning author Juliet Marillier “weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page” (The Book Smugglers). Now she presents the first novel in an 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.
Marillier (the Sevenwaters Series) opens the Blackthorn & Grim epic fantasy series by sweeping readers into a lavishly detailed world full of enchantments, devotion, heartache, and mystery. Blackthorn, an embittered wise woman, longs for vengeance against the wicked lord responsible for her grievous loss, her imprisonment, and her coming execution. Conmael, a handsome fey nobleman, offers her freedom if she will travel to Dalriada, provide healing help to all who ask, and forsake revenge for seven years. Blackthorn reluctantly accepts, undertaking the journey with her hulking devotee, Grim, who'd shared her captivity. She settles at Winterfalls, home of the humane Prince Oran of Dalriada, and eventually solves a tortuous magical puzzle for him. Marillier's fascinating narrative, based loosely on Irish myth and centered on women's empowerment, never slips into sentimentality or untoward sensuality, delivering a tasteful feast for the imagination.
This is an epic novel that captivates you from the start. It's easy to write of magic and the fey people, of pixie dust and dreams come true. It is a much more demanding task to write of human suffering, of loss, of betrayal, and of hate. However, blending the two, the magical with brutal reality, makes for a real adult fairy tale.
These characters aren't bland generic characters out of a catalog, these are real imperfect people who are fierce, impassioned, dreamers, lovers, and adventurers. If you want a book that will take you on a magical adventure, read this one. I highly recommend this book and it's sequel as worthy of vacation reading. A+