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Review: Heir to Sevenwaters, Juliet Marillier

This is a recent addition to the Sevenwaters series, but I don’t think knowledge of the first trilogy is necessary to enjoy it.  I don’t remember much of the latter two books and still managed to fully understand and love this one.

Clodagh’s twin sister Deirdre is getting married, her mother is heavily pregnant with a child later in life than expected, and she herself must take charge of the house, try to comfort her worried father, and give up her marital prospects for the foreseeable future.  At first, luckily, all this goes off without a hitch, except perhaps for the irritating warrior Cathal who has accompanied Clodagh’s cousin Johnny to the wedding and seems determined to rain on Clodagh’s parade every chance he gets.  In the meanwhile, she meets again a man she likes very much and successfully gets through her sister’s wedding with the household intact.  Clodagh’s mother Aisling even survives the delivery of a healthy baby boy, but then the unthinkable happens and Clodagh is the only one who can save her family from destruction.

I knew I loved the Sevenwaters trilogy, and I wasn’t surprised at all when I loved this, too.  Juliet Marillier’s prose is astonishingly beautiful, weaving a fantasy world that exists side-by-side with a historical portrait of early Ireland.  It’s so easy to get swept away into this world and Marillier has lost none of its magic.  I knew absolutely nothing about the book going into it – not even the main character’s name – but I quickly realized that trouble was imminent.  Once the main “trouble” occurred and I couldn’t put it off any longer, I absolutely sped through the book, as I’m sure I was intended to.  I had to know what happened and this book is only predictable in some respects.  I figured I knew what the ending was, but I needed to know how they got there.  I particularly adored the tension between Cathal and Clodagh.  That part of the story was beautifully done.

Marillier is brilliant at character development and it’s the people of her world that come alive so well.  Clodagh is exceptionally well-rounded and it’s fascinating to watch her strength progress from a position as mistress of the household to braving a foreign world and pitting her wits against those of an immortal fairy lord.  One gets the sense that she does not seek such challenge, but has the strength to endure what she must for those she loves.  She is so full of compassion and love that she willingly gives of herself without asking to make someone else’s life easier.  Similarly, Cathal’s character is revealed very gradually, each aspect of his personality coming out by the end of the story to make him fully understandable and sympathetic.  His actions, his past, everything comes to light and in the end it’s impossible not to fall in love with these two.

I would recommend this book to everyone, unless you can’t tolerate fantasy.  Marillier has it all, with great characters, an entrancing world you’ll never want to leave, a plot that is engrossing and keeps you up at night, and a beautiful style of writing.  I loved this book – and the rest of the series – and I think you will too.  In fact, I’m off to go acquire the rest of her books in some fashion, and see if they live up to this amazing series.

Buy Heir to Sevenwaters on Amazon.

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