Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

Look, far be it from me to tell you to read a book – but just read this book, pretty please.  I’m not going to beg – okay, I will, please, please, please read this book.  That should probably give a slight hint as to my feelings for this story.  It was great, it was enchanting, it put a spell on me which I couldn’t break until I’d completely finished reading – literally in virtually one day!

In a nutshell (a little acorn maybe) the story is about a woman, wrongfully imprisoned who accepts help from the most unexpected source.  Blackthorn, as she will become known, is a wise woman and healer.  She has been incarcerated in a miserable, filthy prison for too long, the only thing sustaining her the dreams she has of bringing down revenge on the head of the man who destroyed her life.

The story gets off to an immediate start as Blackthorn finds out that she is to be murdered rather than given the opportunity to air her tale.  At the same time, she receives a visitor, Conmael, a member of the fae who has an unusual proposition in which Blackthorn will give up her desire for revenge, will live a life of good far away from this place and provide help to all those who ask.  In return he will save her life and see to her escape.  And so a pact is made, of course, a pact with a member of the fae is not to be taken lightly.  The terms between Conmael and Blackthorn will remain intact for seven years.  If the terms are breached, a year will be added for every time the pact is broken.

And so Blackthorn escapes into the night.  Followed closely by a giant of a man, and former prisoner called Grim.  The two will find themselves travelling to the land of Dalriada where their services will soon become in great demand.

To be honest I don’t really want to go into the plot.  It’s just a magical explosion of gripping story told almost like an adult fairytale.  The writing is simply gorgeous and evocative.

The story is narrated in three different voices, Blackthorn, Grim and Prince Oran.  Crown Prince Oran of Dalraida has finally chosen a bride and although this is an arranged marriage the two have exchanged letters and seem to be perfectly well matched.  Most believe that Prince Oran is too sensitive, he cares about nature, he’s respectful to people regardless of station or sex and he enjoys reading and poetry.  And yet, in spite of the doubts of some, his little neck of the woods seems to run smoothly, his people wish to work for him and work hard to please and the villages within his remit are pleasant places to live.  And then there’s Dreamer’s Wood.  One of the old places, on the edges of the realm, it has a mystical feel and walking under the dark canopy usually produces a feeling of being watched.  Nobody really enters the forest.  The ‘others’ are believed to dwell there and none will brave the unspoken menace.

Why did I love this so much.  It’s difficult to pin down.  I wouldn’t say I had any difficulty in second guessing certain elements of the plot and I’m sure that others would no doubt do the same.  But, there are a number of different strands to the tale and more than the actual main story, which seems to have turned into a mystery that Blackthorn and Grim will become involved in trying to solve on the Prince’s behalf, there are little jaunts into side stories not to mention a number of occasions where we look back at Blackthorn’s past.  I also really enjoyed the three main characters and alternating the chapters between them gave the story an added pace and a more rounded feel.

Blackthorn is a great character, twisted with anger and yet the chances she has been given have already started to have a positive effect.  We have Oran, the thinker – and in fact forward thinker given the way most nobles behave.  And Grim.  I loved this character.  He’s a great hulk of a man with a quick temper that once roused is usually followed by a blinding flash of temper resulting in the use of fists – and yet he’s afraid of the dark and has developed a strong devotion to Blackthorn.  Both of these characters are badly broken and yet in coming together they are forming a strange bond that is helping them to heal.

On top of this we have a setting straight out of a storytime read.  Castles, damsels in distress. Wicked nobles and scheming fae.  What’s not to love!

I really loved this book.  I can’t give it enough feels.  If you enjoy a story with beautiful writing, strong and intriguing characters, a fairytale setting and magical creatures then I think you will also enjoy this book.  Juliet Marillier definitely goes on my authors to be watched and auto bought (yep, I’ve got my beady eye on JM!)  And, given the way this book develops I’m expecting more instalments – at least six maybe???

What are you waiting for.  Get out of here and pick up a copy.

Other reviews:

  1. The Bibliosanctum
  2. Fantasy Review Barn
  3. Not Yet Read
  4. Books Without Any Pictures
  5. Tenacious Reader

And, if all that doesn’t convince you then I just despair.  I do.  I’ll just go dive into Dreamer’s Pool!!!!

30 Responses to “Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier”

  1. Tammy

    I swear I have a copy sitting RIGHT HERE. I just haven’t had time to read it. Soon, I promise!!!

    • lynnsbooks

      OMG it’s so good. I can’t believe I waited this long – and I’m going to the backlist right now! I think you’ll love it too. SO GOOD. I literally am going to give my book away and make somebody read it – just because.
      Lynn 😀

  2. romeorites

    Sold! Added to the wishlist.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yay, Read it. It’s awesome. BTW – I needed to pick your brains for my tough travel – what is an elf? is it some sort of descendent of the fae? Only asking because you wrote your piece on folklore so thought you might shed some light. I’m always curious about elves but never sure exactly if they are related to fae? Like maybe fae that have over time ‘mingled’ too much with humans?? They have the pointy ears, the ethereal looks, the grace, the magic??

      • romeorites

        Goodness. Elves where to start.
        They seem to originate from Germanic, Old English Folklore as well as Norse mythology. I believe in Germanic folklore they were called the álfar and were said to be magical creatures. In Norse mythology they were seen as Gods.
        Of course there is Tolkien’s elves who are primarily based on the Norse idea. One thing seems to be clear is that they are all depicted as white as swans and immortal. The pointed ears are a point of dispute as fairies have always been depicted as having pointed ears, as the stories and ballads of the aelfir go, they became somewhat conflated with fairies. Which leads me on to my next point. Elves seem to change and adapt constantly. For example in Germanic folklore they were said to be monstrous and dangerous, moving to the depiction of them in Elizabethan times as somewhat romantic figures that seduced people into the woods, then of course much later on in the 19th century you have the Christmas elves who almost bridge the gap between pixies/fairies yet always immortal.
        Obviously there is a lot more to be said about them and I am just summarizing as best I can. I hope I have helped
        “Do not go to the elves for council, for they will say yes, and no.” – Tolkien

      • lynnsbooks

        Excellent – thanks for that, it certainly is helpful.
        Lynn 😀

      • romeorites

        No problem. Folklore is my thang. 🙂

      • lynnsbooks


  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Yes, please! I’ll throw myself down next to Lynn and help her beg everyone to read this! It’s truly excellent!

    Great review, glad you enjoyed it! 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      It was so good – pretty certain I picked this one up from you so hugs for that.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Grace

    I loved this, and I really hope that she writes more in the series asap. I loved Blackthorn’s prickliness and the way that she and Grim complemented each other so well.

  5. Stephen P. Bianchini

    Hi Lynn, I have to say you managed to hook me. Difficult nowadays to find a story that’s good only (or mainly) based on a vendetta… Just a question – how about fantasy elements in there, and overall consistency (I know, I know I’m a boring scientist…) 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      Believe me, you’re far from boring!
      Fantasy elements. Well there was a little bit of the fae, some magic, a mystical forest – it’s sort of a like a grown up fairytale. But not a retelling. A completely original story.
      Lynn 😀

      • Stephen P. Bianchini

        Original, really? As I said, I found this is quite rare recently. Well, it’s done, just bought it online. I’ll let you know 🙂

      • lynnsbooks

        Now I’m all overcome with nerves – what if you don’t like it!! You will like it. It’s so good. Plus you have impeccable taste – Okay, I’m trying to make you like it. I’ll just go away and sit nervously until you read it.
        Lynn 😀

      • Stephen P. Bianchini

        Ahah! I’m sure I’ll like it! Thanks for the suggestion 😀

      • lynnsbooks


  6. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Yay!! I am so glad to see you read and loved this one 🙂 Great review!

    • lynnsbooks

      It was just so good. I could read it again. I will read it again!
      Lynn 😀

  7. jenclair

    I’ve enjoyed her Shadowfell novels and will certainly add this one to my list!

  8. jessicabookworm

    You were right, I do love the sound of this 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s so, so good. I actually want to read it again – but I’m going to check out some of her other works instead.
      Lynn 😀

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