Sunday, April 8, 2012

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

 I picked up Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier because I am very fond of Wildwood Dancing, one of her young adult novels. Heart's Blood is never going to be a favorite of mine, though I didn't hate it.

Caitrin, a female scribe, is fleeing her home when she arrives at Whistling Tor. This mysterious estate is home to Anluan, who was crippled by a palsy as a child, and his mysterious attendants. The people of the village tell Caitrin that Whistling Tor is under a curse -- but Caitrin has heard that Anluan is looking for a scribe, and she is in need of work. When she arrives at the Tor, she finds that Anluan is unfriendly and his people are indeed mysterious, but she feels safe there all the same. Part of Anluan's hostility is due to the fact that he is sure she will leave after a few days, but Caitrin pledges to stay through the summer and complete the work of organizing his library and transcribing his Latin texts into the common tongue. As she progresses with her work, Caitrin comes to believe that there might be something in the texts to break the old curse upon Whistling Tor -- but before she can find it, threats from without and within endanger both Caitrin's life, and the survival of all at Whistling Tor.

This Beauty and the Beast story didn't do much for me, in terms of romance -- I just didn't feel the spark of attraction between Caitrin and Anluan for most of the book. I will say, however, that in terms of character development, both Caitrin and Anluan grew and changed over the course of the story, and I was interested in the ways that they were developing. There was a point where I felt conflict was manufactured, rather than naturally occurring, and Caitrin's actions at that point seemed forced.

My other complaint is about the names -- the setting of the book is Ireland, presumably some time in the late middle ages, and many of the character names are completely unpronounceable . . . and there is no glossary. It's a small thing, but each new name left me wondering how it was pronounced, which took me right out of the story.

So, all in all, I probably wouldn't recommend this one unless you are a die-hard fan of this author or this sort of fantasy story.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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