Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier is a beautiful fairytale full of broken characters and a disturbing mystery. If you are tired of worrying about romance ruining perfectly good friendships, but also kind of like the sweet naïveté of the adorable secondary characters sometimes, Dreamer’s Pool is probably your book. Dreamer’s Pool is also your book if you love writing that just keeps pulling you back in and character development that wrenches your heart but makes your proud at the same time. Basically, Dreamer’s Pool is rockin’ and the narration of the audiobook is pretty darn good as well!
Note: I received an audiobook copy of Dreamer’s Pool from the publisher. Audiobooks change my experience with the story.
Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier
Narrated by Natalie Gold, Nick Sullivan, Scott Aiello
(Blackthorn and Grim #1)
Published by Roc on Nov. 4th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 448 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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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.
- Blackthorn and Grim are both very troubled and broken main characters (so of course I adored them to no end), but they are balanced well with our third main character, Oran, who is such a hopeless romantic that I probably wouldn’t have been able to tolerate him without Blackthorn’s amusing assessments. Oran is not just a naive prince though, he is knowledgeable about the law and cares for his people, which makes it all the more amusing when he is confronted by surly Blackthorn and silent Grim ;-).
- You’d think that three points-of-view would be too much, but it worked quite well, with each character having a very distinct voice. The audiobook has three narrators, too, so that helped a lot. Each of the narrators portrays their character very well and I kind of want to find Grim’s narrator and just give him a hug!
- I can’t tell you the last time I came across an adult story with a man and a woman being JUST FRIENDS! Blackthorn and Grim are very clearly just friends from the start and it was so refreshing to see their friendship and trust develop without any worry about relationship angst.
- The writing and mystery of Dreamer’s Pool is so addicting. I found myself doing extra chores around the apartment, listening while walking and driving and any other excuse I could find. I even kept listening while icing my forehead from eyestrain! I just had to know what happened next!!!
- You find out very quickly that Blackthorn and Grim are in prison and it has been a very tough prison sentence. Thinking back on where they both were at the start of Dreamer’s Pool now that I know how much they grow and recover from their trauma, I can’t help but be impressed by the character development that Marillier smoothly pulls off.
- There are some seriously hairy issues in Dreamer’s Pool and I applaud Marillier for not shying away from them and giving Blackthorn a voice to shout what so many of us wish we could. I don’t want to give anything away, but there were definitely times when my eyes got quite big because I just didn’t expect Marillier to pull it off but she does!
- Dreamer’s Pool is the start of a series but stands alone quite well. You’ll be relieved to know that there will be more Blackthorn and Grim adventures though as soon as you’re at the end of Dreamer’s Pool. I certainly can’t wait to hear what they’ll be up to next!
- Oran’s narration is the one exception to the otherwise excellent narration choices. He has some quirks such as a very strange and rather annoying voice for Oran’s manservant and close friend. I was kind of relieved when that character faded to the background because he was so annoying to listen to at first.
- Major trigger warning for sexual violence in Dreamer’s Pool. Those tough issues I mention above? Yeah, they involve some pretty horrible things done to innocents. Nothing is graphically depicted, but I got sad just thinking about it myself so I want to make sure others are warned in case you’re more sensitive to those subjects.
Dreamer’s Pool is an excellent choice for fantasy fans and promises to be just the beginning for a great series. I was guessing right up until the end and am thrilled to have been able to listen to the audio version so I could fit in lots of extra reading time ;-). I am now quite convinced that I need to go read everything else Marillier has written because there is just something downright addictive about her storytelling!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.