Lexie's Reviews > Heart's Blood

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
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Apr 01, 10

bookshelves: genre-fantasy, genre-historical, review-blog, genre-romance, genre-fairy-tale-redone, book-type-hardcover, books-owned-read
Read from March 31 to April 01, 2010

I've been a fan of Marillier's writing since the first time I took Daughter of the Forest out from the library. Like that book, and all the Sevenwaters books succeeding it, Heart's Blood is set in an ancient time past in Ireland. Choosing to use the tale of Beauty and the Beast to form the foundation of this tale, Marillier both re-created the well known tale and made it something completely different.

It shouldn't have surprised me that this book would make me cry at least once. Though sometimes her writing borders on the prosy formal intonations, Marillier writes with a depth of emotional understanding. Each character is flawed, very flawed and very damaged emotionally (if not physically). They each carry baggage from who they were before joining Anulan's household as well as after. Caitrin is no exception to this. I found myself liking her more for her fears, for her little reassurances that she is strong and can be who she was before. For each kindness or challenge she directed at the others, she saw herself becoming more like the Caitrin before her father's death.

Anulan was the product of very unusual upbringing. Raised mostly by his father's former man-at-arms Magnus and by the Whistling Tor folk Rioghan, Eichri, Muirne and Oclan, he hadn't been outside of the Tor since he was a very small child and was especially wary of strangers. Blunt, ill-tempered and used to being obeyed, I wasn't certain I would like him very much honestly. Then again, I'm not sure Caitrin liked him overly much. As the story deepened, and he proved himself to have a different facet when he tried, my heart ached for him. Especially after everything is revealed.

The middle section--after Caitrin learns it all and before the men from the Norman Invader comes a-calling--ran a little bit longer then I thought was needed. It was fascinating to read about how Caitrin slowly won over the trust of the Whistling Tor folk, how she taught Anulan to see beyond his temper and work with what he had, as well all the cultural tidbits Marillier is so good at including, but it dragged on. In light of the revelation at the end (which I guessed rather early on, but then I don't think it was meant to be as much of a surprise to the reader as it was the characters) it was especially vexing. No one, no one at all, even thought to look into the matter?

I had also hoped for a little more information regarding what it was like growing up. Its never made clear when exactly Anulan began his tenure, it was implied it was when he was a child and his father died, but it didn't seem likely. If a grown man has such trouble keeping it under control under the best of conditions, how could a nine year old boy do it? Then again it was made abundantly clear that if the chieftain of the Tor was not in charge bad things could happen, so its doubtful the curse would have waited for Anulan to reach maturity. As this was told from Caitrin's point of view, mostly, and Anulan didn't exactly elaborate, question may never be answered.

This was without a doubt a wonderful historical fantasy built around Beauty and the Beast. Strong characters, strong emotional ties and an enthralling tale is sure to please anyone who picks this up.
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Reading Progress

03/31 page 47
11.69%
03/31 page 147
36.57% "humans are scarier than supernatural beings"
03/31 page 211
52.49% "it was going well..."
02/26 marked as: books-owned
02/26 marked as: books-owned-read

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