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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Audio Book Review: Dreamer's Pool: Blackthorn & Grim, Book 1 Written by: Juliet Marillier

This dark faireytale, complete with tortured characters, tricky fae magic and mysteries, is probably my favorite read of 2014.
Dreamer's Pool: Blackthorn & Grim, Book 1
Written by: Juliet Marillier
Narrated by: Scott Aiello, Natalie Gold, Nick Sullivan
Length: 17 hrs and 44 mins
Series: Blackthorn & Grim, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:11-04-14
Publisher: Audible Studios
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: 5.0 of 5.0

Publisher's Summary
Award-winning author Juliet Marillier "weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page" (The Book Smugglers). Now she begins an all-new and enchanting series that will transport readers to a magical vision of ancient Ireland...
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.
©2014 Juliet Marillier (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Blackthorn is a woman who suffered loss and was locked up and abused when she tried to speak out about murder and injustice. The reader meets Blackthorn and Grim in a cesspool of a dungeon. Blackthorn is hoping to finally get a chance to speak out to the counsel on her innocence and the abuse she has suffered. Instead she is mocked by the guards and told that she will not be alive in the morning. Before she can succumb to complete despair she is visited by a fae Mage. He offers her freedom with several conditions. She must go to the village of Dalriada to serve as a healer; she must help whoever asks for help; and she must remain for seven years, setting aside her plans for revenge. Although the terms are hard to accept she decides it is better to live for now.

Grim is a giant of a man who has watched Blackthorn constantly from the next cell. He has watched over and tried to encourage the “Lady” whenever he could. Grim helps Blackthorn to escape the dungeon when the opportunity unexpectedly arises. He also tries to help other prisoners before he follows Blackthorn. He has nowhere else to go but really he is determined to protect her and be near the hope and light he sees within her battered being. There are only glimpses of Grim’s past but it is clear that he too is an anguished soul.

Blackthorn and Grim set up in a cottage on the estate of Prince Oran. The Prince has finally agreed to marry after a letter courtship with his intended bride, Lady Flidais. Lady Flidais and her entourage suffer tragedy when Lady Flidais’ handmaiden is drowned near the edge of the village of Dalraida. Oran is excited to welcome Lady Flidais but he is surprised by her behaviors. At first her headaches and sudden estrangement from her beloved dog are explained as the result of fatigue and distress. However, as the days come closer to their hand-fasting, Oran fears that something serious has happened to the young woman and love he dreamed of through her letters. He seeks the help of Blackthorn in a last effort to resolve his confusions.

This book is filled with totally engaging characters and a gripping tale of tragedy, hardships, folklore and dark magic! The story is told in a versatile manner from the rotating first person views of the three primary characters, Blackthorn, Grim and Oran. There are wonderful historic descriptions of the settings - dungeon, fortress, village, gypsy camp - all blended nicely into the storyline. There is backstory woven in as well as mysteries to be solved with steady reasoning and bold courage. Although I guessed the details in both mysteries it was still a delight to watch the protagonists unravel the truth and deal with the wrongdoers.

This was a delightful surprise and a book I did not want to put down. This entanglement concludes satisfactorily but leaves open questions that make me eager for more episodes and adventures. I have not read Ms. Marillier before but I will definitely be seeking the next book in this series and other works too. I highly recommend this tale to readers who enjoy a thoroughly engaging fantasy.

Audio Notes: The three narrators, Scott Aiello, Natalie Gold and Nick Sullivan, did a great job in
sharing the depths of their characters. There were times I was annoyed by the characters’ emotional responses, or lack thereof, but I felt this was intentional and that the narration conveyed the nuances of each character. The audio enhanced my pleasure in an already absorbing story.

This was a really lucky pick for me to receive from Audible through Audiobook Jukebox.


  1. Thanks for sharing this review with us. This sounds like a very interesting story and I think I am going to give it a try.

  2. I love audiobooks with multiple narrators and I love the cover of this book! Glad it was a winner for you, Martha! Happy New Year :-)


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