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Dreamer’s Pool Review – A New Departure For Juliet Marillier

Dreamer's Pool book cover


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.

Dreamer’s Pool Review 

Juliet Marillier is one of my favourite writers in the world. Her novels – based in folktales and Celtic paganism – are always filled with emotion, learning and love.

Dreamer’s Pool is a new departure for Juliet Marillier. In most of her novels, a coming-of-age love story takes centre stage. Mysteries to solve and wars to win form the subplot. In this story, the two main characters – Blackthorn and Grim – are mature in years and damaged by life. Their relationship is slow-burning. It’s clearly going to take the whole series for us to find out if their wary friendship will develop into something deeper. In the meantime, they become a sort of Dark Ages detective duo. And their first case is that of Prince Oran and his mysteriously altered bride. Has something uncanny happened to make her such a different person from the one in her letters? Or is Oran just a lovelorn fool, disappointed with his arranged marriage? Oran’s story provides us with the tale of young love we are used to from Juliet Marillier, and ensures there is a satisfying ending to the book.

Oran’s story provides us with the tale of young love we are used to from Juliet Marillier, and ensures there is a satisfying ending to the book.

This is a complex story, with many subplots. There is the mystery of Grim and Blackthorn’s own backgrounds. The question of why the fey, Conmael, has made a bargain with Blackthorn. And another local mystery for Blackthorn and Grim to solve. Some of these threads are obviously going to span the series. Others are tied up by the end of the story. We get to hear from Blackthorn, Grim and Oran’s points of view. It is a testament to Juliet Marillier’s skill that she provides a subtly different voice for each character. I especially like the voice she gives to Grim, who is a man of few words. Letting the reader inside Oran’s head allows us to experience the love story at first hand, too.

This is the sort of quality work you would expect from Juliet Marillier. I look forward to reading what happens to Blackthorn and Grim next.

Adaptation Recommendation

This would work well as a lavish, live action fantasy, with an all-Irish cast. Probably an independent or collaborative film, so that it keeps its mystical feeling, with lots of harp music in the score.

Overall Rating

Five Star Rating border

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”

Romance Rating

four heart border

“”In vain I have struggled.  It will not do.  My feelings will not be repressed.  You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”


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By on January 13th, 2015

About Elizabeth Hopkinson

Elizabeth Hopkinson is a fantasy writer from Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK - home of the Brontë sisters and the Cottingley Fairies. She loves fairy tale and history, especially the 18th century, and is currently writing a trilogy set in a fantasy version of baroque Italy. Her short fiction has appeared in many publications, and her historical fantasy novel, Silver Hands, is available from all good book outlets. You can check out Elizabeth's website at hiddengrove.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk.

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