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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Published: November 4, 2014
Pages: 448
Source: For Review From Publisher
Rating: 3 Stars


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.

In short: Dreamer's Pool showcases Juliet Marillier's talent for writing and characterization, but failed to truly blow me away.
I'm beginning to wonder whether perhaps Juliet Marillier's novels just aren't for me. I'm well aware of her stellar reputation among fantasy fans, but I've yet to read a novel of hers that has completely blown me away. I can absolutely recognize that she is a talented writer and I'm always impressed with her genuine characterizations. But I find that her plots tend to be a bit on the slow, quiet side. Nothing wrong with quiet plots - especially if the writing is beautiful - but I find it difficult getting truly invested her stories, enough to make me want to come back for the sequel.

Dreamer's Pool started out very strong, I thought. Enigmatic characters with unknown backgrounds, an intense prison break, a strong set-up that promised an intriguing story to come. But after the initial excitement in the beginning, I felt like the pacing took a drastic downturn. The story continues, the plot still unraveling, but progress is very slow and I felt impatient for something MORE to happen. However, like I mentioned, the writing is quite lovely and I grew fond of the characters pretty quickly despite their sometimes prickly natures. I think I just needed more ACTION.

So I'm wondering: if you're reading this and you are a fan of Juliet Marillier's, would you recommend I read more from her? Or do her books tend to fall along the same lines as Dreamer's Pool - beautifully written and excellent characterization, but slower reads? I know Daughter of the Forest is an all-time fave for many fantasy readers - do you think I would enjoy that one even if I wasn't totally into Dreamer's Pool? All feedback is appreciated, thanks!

Author Links:
Website
Goodreads

20 comments :

  1. Awesome blog! I found this other one that you might want to see! http://theleakycauldron5.blogspot.ca/

    Keep posting!!!

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  2. It sucks when you just can't connect with a well-loved author :( I haven't read anything by Marillier yet, but this and other works of hers are already on my tbr shelf. I'll be curious to see how I make out with them, since it does seem that many of my trusted bookish friends love her, but with you and I usually lining up with the books we read, it could really go both ways. I'm definitely curious enough about the writing style and characters to check this one out, but I'm even more curious to see what her fans will say in response to your question at the end there. Let me know if they recommend starting with her other works first :)

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    1. Well, I'm thinking I should turn to her most-loved original stuff, including Daughter of the Forest and Wildwood Dancing. I don't think I'll give up on her yet - too many people I know love her work! And I love her writing too.

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  3. I haven't read anything by this author. I'm not a huge fantasy fan to begin with, but I think I'd need a bit more action to really get into the story too. Quiet stories work better in contemporary for me.

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    1. Hmm, yeah I think I agree about contemporaries. I have been known to like quieter fantasy reads too, so I guess it can go either way for me.

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  4. I've never read a book by this author before but I've seen on Goodreads that her books don't have that great ratings :P so I never felt motivated to. Although I'm very interested in Mercedes Lackey's work. Sorry it wasn't that great! Always sucks to learn that perhaps an author is not for us :(

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    1. Hmm, well I think a lot of her original stuff is well received. And her earlier stuff is well received by a lot of her hardcore fans. So I don't want to let myself be dissuaded quite yet. I want to like her books!

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  5. I wanted to try a book by this author, but a lot of the reviews I read about her books tend to point out the slow plot. The blurb of this one caught my eye and I had put it in my tbr. I might pick it up when I can spend some time reading but my reading time right now is so short that I need to pick up a fast, paced book.

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    1. I get that. I'm feeling the same way at the moment - I want to prioritize faster paced reads because I need to escape at the end of the day. So I think I'll return to this author at another time.

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  6. This is how I feel about the book right now! I'm reading it and enjoying how beautiful her writing style is but I'm like OK I WANT ADVENTURE TO HAPPEN. I like Grim and Blackthorn and even Prince Oran but stuff needs to happen lol.

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    1. Yeah... I did grow fond of the character, but yeah NEED ADVENTURE. Or you know, SOMETHING exciting to happen.

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  7. I haven't tried any of Marillier's books yet, but I'd like to. I'll just remember to pick one up when I'm alright with a slower read.

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  8. Aw, I wish the book were better. It doesn't sound like my kind of read, and I have no feedback to give you whatsoever since even I'm unaware of the books. Great review anyway!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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    1. Aw, that's okay. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. To me, "beautifully written and excellent characterization, but slower reads" is an excellent way to describe Marillier's novels, Aylee. I found that to be the case with both her Shadowfell series as well as Daughter of the Forest, which I ended up loving but took quite a while for me to get into.

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    1. Hmm yeah, that does seem like it's the way... well, I'm thinking Daughter of the Forest and Wildwood Dancing is a go because those seem to be consistently everyone's favourites and I have high hopes for them. I will just have to be patient!

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  10. Yes, read Daughter of the Forest! It's been years since I've read anything by Marillier, but I really enjoyed the first three books of the Sevenwaters series. I've read a few other books by hers and liked them, but not to the same degree.
    Or if not Daughter of the Forest, I'd recommend reading Heart's Blood, which is a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast," of sorts.
    I do think that all of her books are slower to some degree, but investment in characters makes them feel like they move so much faster, in my opinion. And oh how I loved Sorcha (Daughter of the Forest) and felt for her during her many struggles.
    I'm sorry you haven't had luck with Marillier so far, but I can see certain books of hers working for you, so I hope you'll give her another try some day!

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    1. Yayyy I was hoping a Daughter of the Forest fan would chime in with a resounding YES READ THIS response!! I guess I'm not ready at the moment to start up yet another series until I've finished up one of the ones I have on the go, but I think I can say with confidence that I really do want to read more from her and I haven't given up on her yet! As long as I become attached to the characters, I think I'll be okay with the slow pacing.

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