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Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
Book Name: Tower of Thorns
Author: Juliet Marillier
Publisher(s): Roc
Formatt: Hardcover / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: November 3, 2015

In the second book of the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy, we hunker down with the two main characters as they wait out the seven-year condition set by Blackthorn’s benefactor, Conmael, a fey who freed her from a death sentence in Dreamer’s Pool. Now, I’m not usually a fan of Marillier, but the synopsis of Dreamer’s Pool caught my interest, and it did not disappoint. Blackthorn and Grim are an excellent pair of mysterious protagonists that I could not get enough of. Too much left to discover that I just had to keep going with Tower of Thorns.

Blackthorn and Grim each have their own dark histories to tell. We know Blackthorn’s by now and her unrelenting desire to see justice and revenge achieved on behalf of her loved ones. Even if it means breaking her oath to her benefactor. Her peaceful new life as wise woman and healer in the town of Winterfalls grates on her nerves, even though Prince Oran is a surprisingly wise and just ruler. Having to be around people and actually be nice and sociable is taxing. The temptation to take matters into her own hands constantly prods her.

Her companion, Grim, has yet to reveal his story at this point, but his demons are ever present and he can barely keep them at bay. His devotion to Blackthorn surprises me, I admit. His character development has not reached the point of allowing me to understand the depth of his loyalty. Choosing to follow and protect her at all costs—even when it brings out the demons front and center—is admirable, though. His unassuming and calm demeanor is a good balance to Blackthorn’s blunt and prickly manner. They have developed a comfortable rapport with each other and work well as a team, understanding and anticipating the other’s needs and covering for weaknesses. As far as romantic elements go, this is not your sappy, warm fuzzies kind of relationship. Instead, it is a subtle but steadfast growth that you don’t realize is there until you look up at the height and breadth it has achieved.

When a noblewoman—Lady Geileis–approaches Prince Oran to ask for help in banishing a monster in her land, Blackthorn and Grim set themselves to the task after much deliberation and with ulterior motives on Blackthorn’s end. The monster in question is not a beast that terrorizes the people or eats little children or lays devastation to the land. It is an unseen creature, trapped in a tower, wailing its torment all day, every day. The unrelenting lament is enough to drive people insane by magnifying their own fears and insecurities until one cannot discern reality from illusion. Some have taken their own lives to end the torturous fate. Blackthorn must find a way to break the apparent curse by discovering the origins of the creature and its prison. Lady Geileis and her people are rather unhelpful in that regard and almost seem to impede Blackthorn and Grim’s efforts. As more history unfolds, the more it looks like a trap. In the meantime, we get to learn more of Grim’s story and betrayal soon rears its ugly head.

The story is laid out in three points of view: Blackthorn’s, Grim’s, and Lady Geileis’. Both Blackthorn and Grim’s are in first person while Geileis’ is in third person limited. Therefore, we don’t know the secret of the curse until the very end, which makes for great suspense building, but I could have done without knowing every single thought that passed through their heads. It slowed the pace way down for me. It didn’t really become a page-turner until the second half of the book. As much as I enjoyed the elaborate plot and intriguing characters, the journey was just too drawn out for my taste.

I do like the unique portrayal of the monster/villain in the story. How so much like our own demons that we fight inside our heads. Poor Grim is surrounded by demons from his past and someone else’s past projected into the very real present! If anyone deserves some sort of happy ending, it would be him. I hope he finds it in book three, or least some peace from all the screaming.

If you like richly detailed stories with engaging character-driven plots, this series would definitely be one to try.


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