** spoiler alert **
I’ll admit, this book took me longer to warm to than the rest of Juliet’s books. The plot felt directionless for a good portion of the middle – I got a bit frustrated because Blackthorn and Grim were so interesting to me, and I wanted to discover more about their pasts and see Blackthorn struggle more with her quest, but they were stuck in the one place solving a crime between two unimportant villagers (as important as the message in the outcome was).
Oran as a POV character seemed to get more chapters than Blackthorn & Grim themselves… and it didn’t help that he was hopelessly naive and obsessed with an idealised version of his betrothed for the majority of the novel. I wish I could like him, I applaud Juliet for writing Oran, who possesses traits that are rarely bestowed on principal male characters, it’s something I’d like to see more of. But for some reason, he really grated with me.
With the slight negativity out of the way – WOW! I love Blackthorn and Grim so much, both separately and as a pair. Especially Grim, he really leapt off the page in each of his chapters (curious as to why he was written in present tense). Their dynamic was wonderful and, towards the very end, quite heartbreaking – I’m really looking forward to reading more about them, and finding out about their pasts. Seeing the gradual breakdown of emotional barriers between the two is truly beautiful to read. Blackthorn is such a wonderfully feminist character, and I love how she alters her view of more “traditionally feminine” women by the end of the novel, in appreciating Flidais’ strength of character and bravery.
I also grew to appreciate Ciar – only after I begun to realise who she really was, and I’m glad Blackthorn is going to assist her in getting back to her human form and we’ll be seeing more of her in future books. (I don’t think she deserved being turned into a dog! She didn’t really make the choice to turn into Flidais, she just did what she had to to survive… as manipulative as she became…) Juliet really has a knack for writing delightfully flawed characters.
I really, really wanted to read more about Conmael in this book! I’m sure we’ll get to that in the future but… Juliet’s depictions of the Fair Folk are always so intriguing. (I’ve been on a Labyrinth kick lately and I kept picturing him as David Bowie though, imagine my delight when he was hinted as an owl in the last chapter!)
Ultimately I give this book a 4/5, I’m very excited for the future novels and I feel this series can only get better.