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Review: Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier

Caitrin arrives at Whistling Tor having fled her entire life.  After her father’s death, she was abused by her distant cousins to the point where she runs away with only her writing box, for she is a scribe by trade.  Whistling Tor is not the average Irish town.  The lord is reclusive, bound to the hilltop, and the villagers are frightened to go away and fear he does not care for them.  Throwing caution to the wind, Caitrin travels up the hill when she hears that the lord is in need of a capable scribe that can read Latin and Irish.

I adore Juliet Marillier’s work.  I won this book in a giveaway before its release and I can’t express how excited I was to read it.  I have huge expectations for this author and the best part is that she hasn’t let me down yet.  Her fantasy world, with strong characters and often a large romantic sideplot, simply appeal to me in every way.  Heart’s Blood was no exception and I loved it.  This book is all about moving beyond the past and forging a new future.

Caitrin is interesting because she is a very damaged heroine.  She’s been abused and lied to by people who claim they are her family.  Her sister married and left her, not realizing what would happen.  She flinches every time a man gestures in her presence.  At the same time, she has a core of steel that hasn’t been beaten down, and a very large part of this book is her recovering her strength, her ambition, and her determination to live her life.  I loved Caitrin’s character development.  I felt like her struggle was very realistic; even when she knows, realistically, a man isn’t going to strike her, she’s been beaten into submission and it takes a long time for her to stop reacting in fear.  Her struggles and her move towards becoming a courageous new woman makes her a character to cheer for.  Besides this, she is a scribe and she’s often busy researching, an activity close to my heart.

Anluan, the lord of Whistling Tor, has been convinced of his own inferiority for a long time.  He’s disabled from an illness, and moreover is bound to the hilltop because of his ancestor’s dark sorcery.  That is due to the host – a hoard of ghostly figures brought back from the dead by accident who are only kept in control by the lord’s presence.  They need to prove themselves, too.  Every character, except for ultimately the villain, has something to grow beyond.

I loved both the story with the host, which has several members we get to know, and Nechtan’s sorcery, and the romance between Anluan and Caitrin.  It takes true courage and strength for them to get past their individual handicaps and grow into loving one another, not to mention believing that they love each other.  It’s beautifully done and this book is amazing.  I grew to realize the ending of the host story before Caitrin did, but that didn’t make her revelations any less fascinating and compelling.  Besides that, I love Marillier’s writing.  I was doing nanowrimo while reading this and realized that I was actually imitating her writing, which is embarrassing, because I just love it so much.

Had it been Anluan whose presence I had sensed before, standing in the doorway watching me without a word?  He was seated on the bench now … White face, red hair; snow and fire, like something from an old tale … I found it difficult to take my eyes from him.  There was an odd beauty in his isolation and his sadness, like that of a forlorn prince ensorcelled by a wicked enchantress, or a traveller lost forever in a world far from home.

I loved Heart’s Blood. This is quite simply a perfect book for someone who enjoys fantasy and romance, and perhaps a little poking about in old books.

I am an Amazon Associate. I won this book in a giveaway.

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