This is not my first foray into Juliet Marillier's spellbinding storytelling, I am a long time fan, and as such I was expecting the usual awesomeness.
In every aspect of the story.
Well, the author nailed the story telling part... like she always does.
I don't think Juliet Marillier knows how to tell a bad story. Most of the big tomes that I have in my shelves, have her name on it and if you know anything about me, you're probably aware that I am not a big fan of big books, so they're better be good! ( look, if you can say something in two hundred pages, why use five hundred? Am I right? o_O)
Juliet Marillier is one of the few writers that I read, who don't fill her books with countless pages full of nothing.
Sure, some of them may have a good couple of pages describing walking and more walking (I may have become a little traumatized with "Shadowfell"), but even the author's "not so amazing works" are always five hundred per cent better than the average book.
Because allied with perfect storytelling abilities, the author creates the most amazing characters. Who can forget Sorcha and Red? Or Liadan and Bran? And what about the lonely Faolan who stole my heart in "The Bridei Chronicles"?
That happens here as well, and truth be said, everything that involves the two main characters gets a five star rating.
Blackthorn and Grim are not our average heroes: when we first meet them they are locked away in a prison. One of them has hold on to her need of revenge. The other one to his need of being useful.
Of them both, it will be a decision made by Blackthorn that will decide their future path.
In this volume we get more background information on Blackthorn, a once respected woman who has lost everything in life. That is not to say that Grim isn't an interesting character, or that he gets thrown to the sidelines: he definitely doesn't. He is someone with a big heart, and I can't wait to know more about him on the second volume.
The reason why I am giving this book a three star rating, is because the book is not all about these two characters.
There is also a prince, called Oran. Oran is a good person. He's kind. Intelligent. Literate. Likes dogs.
And he likes poetry...and he's not too keen on assuming his royal duties.
Truth is, I found him a bore. -_-
Yes, once again, he IS a good person, but I couldn't care less about him, and every time the pov would change to him, he would bore me immediately. -__
Luckily there is a mystery involving Oran and his future fiancée, so that made things more interesting... unfortunately I found some other things problematic.
There's slut shamming directed at rape victims ( yes, it is done by the bad guys, but even so, it took one too many pages being dealt).
There's not one, but at least two rape victims in this book: some of you may even say, "oh, but that was usual back then"...
The second victim took me by surprise, and after what we already knew had happened to another character, I felt it was overdone. Of course I should be grateful that Marillier isn't GRRM.
But the thing is, I don't read GRRM. I am picky with my fantasy and what goes with it...
So, there you have it: some parts I more than liked, others, not so much. However I will definitely be following Grim's and Blackthorn's stories in the next volume, "Tower of Thorns".