Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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.
Oh hello usual struggle with first-person narratives. I have a love-hate (mostly hate, if I’m being honest) relationship with first person. Even when it’s rotating, like this one is. On the plus side, I never had trouble telling the three POV characters apart. On the downside, I didn’t especially care for anyone.
I sympathized with Blackthorn and I think I could have come to like Grim if there had been more, but Oran tended to be frustrating and boring by turns (with some likeable moments) and overall Blackthorn seemed very one note. Except for when the plot needed her to be nice to people.
Other characters were interesting, especially the druid Oisin (whom I wish we’d gotten to see more of) and Conamel (whom I really want to know more about), but overall they didn’t get especially fleshed out. The psuedo-antagonist in particular felt a little all over the place. I was never really sure why she acted the way she did other than she didn’t ‘get it’, and even that is an assumption on my part.
I read this novel rather quickly, but that is completely due to my interest in the fae aspects. I liked seeing how Blackthorn and Grim solved the two mysteries that were brought to them and I loved the story-telling aspects woven into the novel. But a lot of the novel felt like it was ‘wait-and-see’.
Yeah I just don’t have a lot to say about this one. 3 out of 5 stars.