Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Unexpected Calm of Heart's Blood Weaves a Multi-faceted Story
In Heart's Blood, Juliet Marillier offers a straightforward supernatural romance set in the Irish wild-world of Whistling Tor where Norman encroachment means chieftains have to depend on one another when the English king's leaders aren't rushing to a landowner's aid. The young and able-bodied Caitrin has learned to read and write from her late father, but she's never learned to stand up for herself. When an aunt and cousin take over her childhood home, abusing her mentally and physically (off camera), she flees the situation to find her way in the world of a crippled chieftain, troubled spirits, and his loyal lifelong friends out in the west where Norman encroachment and politics matter.
This standalone novel disappointed me a little because I've come to expect faster-paced, battle-heavy stories after Marillier's Bridei Chronicles. But the story captivated me because she wove details and clues among the slowly growing spark of “hope” that the chieftain Anluan required to get through his arc and the growing spark of “bravery” that the heroine Caitrin required to get through her arc. At times, the discussions of hope and bravery became a bit redundant. I wished the characters would get the point and move on; grow and be done with the growing, if you know what I mean. But Marillier tossed in a mystery force that sends an army of spirits into a frenzy just when Anluan most needs them to be in check, a Norman invasion, poison and treachery, and she suddenly had a well-spun tapestry. As the title suggests, the plant known as Heart's Blood factors in, not just to set the heroine's true path in motion, but to offer highlights along the path. I commend Marillier for her clever use of Caitrin's profession, knowledge, visions, observations, etc. What may seem like trivial details as the reader is wading through the story are pieces of a puzzle that fall beautifully into place—and not just at the end of the book, but throughout the novel as truths are revealed.
For diehard Marillier fans, this is a must. For newbies, I highly recommend the Bridei Chronicles first.
For the Bronte fans in the house! (Beware of spoilers in this section of text.) I saw some parallels to Jane Eyre that only a Janeite would catch onto. The orphaned Caitrin ran from her cruel aunt and cousin, not to find an education, but to find a living. Anluan the crippled chieftain was compared to a ruined tree and moped about the fire-damaged estate of his unkind patriarch with as much angst as any Irish Edward Rochester you could hope for. When Anluan found that he loved Caitrin too much, she left in the middle of the night with her original travel dress on her back and the effects she'd brought with her (although she also took the silver he paid her for her scribing work and a magic mirror). She traveled for days until she found herself in the care of strangers, one of whom just happened to be a man of the law (think St. John Rivers) who helped her claim her rightful inheritance. I half expected him to pronounce her “quite an heiress.” The mirror provides the moment of Anluan “calling for” Caitrin, rather than the wind bringing Rochester's voice to Jane. Of course Caitrin returns to her ruined old tree to rescue him, but I'll leave the rest of the spoilers under wraps. The story deserves to be read…
This Heart's Blood book review was written by Sandy Lender
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Heart's Blood reader reviews
Athena from Belgium
A darker Juliet Marillier book, but just as good. Really great story, very well written, I really enjoyed reading it, could not put it down.
8/10 from 2 reviews
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