Tower of Thorns (Book #2 of The Blackthorn and Grim Series)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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.
My Review: In the second book in the series, Blackthorn and Grim are trying to bring peace into their lives by healing in Dalriada. Flidais is expecting a child, and she requests that Blackthorn assist her during her pregnancy. However, it seems that happiness and peace is not destined to last, for at the main court of Dalriada, a woman begs for help to expel a howling monster from the old tower on her property. Blackthorn agrees to help. When Blackthorn and Grim get there, they hear the monster’s cries of pain and anguish that haunts the land. They realize that there is more to it than what the woman says. Together, they seek to find the truth of the situation and to end the monster’s anguish.
Blackthorn has grown stronger than in the first novel. She is still trying to find peace and to be the woman that she used to be. However, we learn a little bit of the woman who she was before she had a thirst for revenge. She runs into her childhood friend, and it brings her memories of sorrow. He gives a chance for revenge, and Blackthorn is often conflicted about whether she should stay and fulfill her end of the fey nobleman’s bargain to not go seeking for revenge or join her childhood friend in a thirst for justice.
Grim, too, has more character development. Dreamer’s Pool focused more on Blackthorn’s origins. In Tower of Thorns, we get to know more about Grim before he was imprisoned. Grim also has personal struggles that he is trying to solve. However he sets aside his inner conflicts to help Blackthorn and to protect her.
Overall, this story is about friendship, love, sacrifice, and redemption. While the book is slow-paced, I was interested in the characters. My favorite character was Geiléis. I was enthralled by her story and the origins about the monster in the tower. I also loved the atmospheric setting in Tower of Thorns. It was eerie, sad, and filled with mystery and magic. Those who have not yet been introduced to Juliet Marillier will be enchanted with this novel. However, long-term fans will notice that Tower of Thorns is still very similar to Marillier’s earlier works, and this story still has yet to take flight. I am still waiting for her originality, creativity, and magic. Readers of Tower of Thorns will find themselves swept away in a magical land filled with fantastical creatures, secrets, and a love story that spans centuries, leaving them breathless and eagerly anticipating the next installment in the Blackthorn and Grim series.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars