Title: Dreamer's Pool (Blackthorn & Grim #1)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Narrator: Scott Aiello, Natalie Gold, & Nick Sullivan
Publisher: Roc (Penguin Random House)
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Acquired Via: Personal Collection
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 caught my eye last year when it came out, but I didn't get around to reading it until I received the sequel, Tower of Thorns, from the publisher. Since I love listening to fantasy audiobooks, I opted for that format, and I think it caused me to love the book all the more.
Since the voice actors are often left out of reviews, I want you to know first thing that the narrators of Dreamer's Pool are awesome. Nick Sullivan has an extremely deep voice that was a little jarring at first, but as I got to know the character, Grim, I realized that his voice was quite wonderful. If you listen to audiobooks at all, you know how important it is to the enjoyment of the story to have good actors, and Dreamer's Pool will not disappoint you.
I went into reading/listening to Dreamer's Pool thinking it was just a typical fantasy novel. That is not the case at all. The Blacksthorn & Grim novels are mysteries at heart, and I'm almost tempted to classify them as historical because they're set in ancient Ireland. I mention the mystery part because it's up to Blackthorn and Grim to help Oran figure out the various issues that he is having with his betrothed. They must do this while also navigating their very serious issues (namely PTSD) from their imprisonment together and tragic pasts.
Blackthorn is a very difficult character to like. As readers, we get to see some of her issues very early in the story. However, she is so closed off and bullheaded, she doesn't really make you warm up to her. At first. Grim, on the other hand, is instantly likable, and it's seeing Blackthorn through his eyes that made me appreciate her. I guess it should go without saying that they have good chemistry with each other, even though they don't talk about their pasts or let each other in. Let's just say things are a little complicated between the two of them.
Dreamer's Pool a fresh new spin on fantasy, and I'm excited to continue the series. Blackthorn and Grim are two characters that I need to know better.
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