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.
5 stars (more if I could)
I am so glad I splurged and bought this book the day it was released. It was truly a great book, and it ranks right up there with my two other favorite Marilliers - Heart's Blood and Daughter of the Forest. Blackthorn and Grim are some of the most flawed yet perfect characters I have ever read. Their tale broke my heart. It always hurts to know just how evil humans can be to one another. We never get to hear Grim's backstory though which was pretty clever on Marillier's part. If you needed a reason (which I don't) to read the next book, learning Grim's tale would be a good one.
The story was magical. So much so that I wanted to savor each word and draw out the book, yet I rushed toward the ending to see the outcome. You really come to care about the characters and want to see things work out. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and realistic.
I loved the shout out to Daughter of the Forest letting us know that Sorcha and her brothers were not too far removed from this story. I have so many books in the TBR pile, but all I really want to do is lose myself in a Marillier book even if it is one I have already read. There is something about her writing draws you in and keeps you spellbound.
This is an adult novel and has some sex, but no offensive language.