Date: November 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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Feather bright and feather fine, None shall harm this child of mine...
Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring justice to the man who ruined her life.
Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help the princess of Dalriada in taking care of a troubled young girl who has recently been brought to court, while Grim is sent to the girl’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—repairing a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies...
Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again by each other’s side or to fight their battles alone...
Den of Wolves is the final book in the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy and happily I also think it’s the best.
This review won’t contain any major spoilers for the earlier two books as each is written in a rather self contained way. That said, if you haven’t read this series, you do want to start with book one, Dreamer’s Pool, as these are not stand alone novels. If you haven’t read anything by Juliet Marillier (gasp!) then I would suggest starting with her Sevenwaters trilogy. I still think it’s the best. However there are so many things I love about this one, most of which comes down to Blackthorn and Grim themselves.
General Reason’s I Love This Series:
- Blackthorn. An embittered healer woman whose life is turned upside down by the Big Bad of the series. She has been wrongfully imprisoned, abused, and longs for little beyond revenge. She is not a feisty teenager. There is absolutely nothing naive or hopeful about her. Even adult fantasy tends to have more youthful heroines. Blackthorn is in her thirties, mentally she is way older. I just find her complete lack of any girlish-ness refreshing.
- Our theta hero Grim! He is to Blackthorn what Samwise Gamgee was to Frodo. What Jean Tannen is to Locke Lamora. Except in this case the question of whether this will all remain platonic becomes more intriguing as the series goes on. I’m not telling. 😉
- Like all of Marillier’s work, this has that subtle blend of history and magic with both Good and Bad Fey working behind the scenes (and of course a Druid or two).
Why I Specifically Love Den of Wolves:
- Blackthorns character growth. In the first book Blackthorn made a bargain with the mysterious fey know as Conmael. His purpose for this and why it was necessary for Blackthorn comes to completion in such a clear and satisfying way. His actions at the start of the series may have saved her physical life, but the parameters he set saved her emotional life come the end. I was proud of her and so grateful for the subtle mechanization of this intriguing background character.
- Better side character POV’s. Each book in the series has four POV’s. Blackthorn, Grim, and two side characters they are assisting. In the first two books I didn’t care for the two extra characters much. But this time around I found them to be sympathetic and interesting to read about. As always I love the way storytelling and legends parallel and fit into how problems and mysteries are solved.
- An appearance by a new generation of Swan Island warriors! Fellow Sevenwater’s fans will love this. Bran was my favorite character in that series, seeing the positive legacy left by someone so tortured and controversial in his time just made me happy.
I highly recommend this series to fantasy fans and those who like things set in ancient Ireland. It gets better with each book and has one of the most satisfying finale’s I have read.