Published: September 29th 2015 by Pan Macmillan AU
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
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Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion Grim have settled quietly in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn's bond to her fey mentor. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.
Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada's help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land - one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, the mysterious presence threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby.
As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together, it becomes clear that a powerful adversary is at work. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle - where even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.
Set less than a year after the end of Dreamer’s Pool, Tower of Thorns takes up with Blackthorn and Grim as they journey with Oran and his wife to the King’s court. They are soon swept up in a new adventure, investigating a curse that afflicts the Lady Geiléis and her lands.
I found the first book somewhat formulaic and lacking in depth. I think this instalment dug a little deeper into the relationship between Blackthorn and Grim, into the past, and was overall a more enjoyable experience. And this time, I wasn’t so disappointed that I’d guessed the mystery quite early. The magic of Marillier’s books is in the telling, not in the knowing, and I was able to better appreciate the atmospheric setting and nuanced characters in Tower of Thorns. Lady Geiléis, and in particular her retelling of the mysterious tale underpinning the novel, kept me hooked. The standout in this novel was definitely Grim. Patient, steadfast and kind Grim who has secrets of his own.
Tower of Thorns was enough of an improvement from the first book that I’m quite eager to read Den of Wolves. I especially look forward to seeing how the fey might influence events — they’re endlessly fascinating! Overall, this is a perfect series for those who love fairy tales and retellings. While this instalment can be read as a standalone, I recommend beginning with Dreamer’s Pool.