Dreamer’s Pool: A Blackthorn and Grim Novel

Written by Juliet Marillier
Review by Kristen Hannum

In ancient Ireland, Blackthorn, a red-headed healer with a secret sorrow, finds herself saved from death through a supernatural bargain. Infuriatingly, the terms mean that she must forego vengeance on the despicable ruler who imprisoned her for seven long years. She must only use her powers for good and she must travel to the northern kingdom of Dalriada where a cottage awaits her. Worst of all she must help everyone who asks for help. Damnation! She grudgingly accepts the devotion of the hulking Grim, who accompanies her.

Blackthorn and Grim’s fate then intersects with that of Prince Oran of Dalriada. He is engaged to a woman he knows only through their letters. When she arrives, it becomes clear to him that the woman he gets to know could never have written the letters that convinced him she was his true love. Dreamer’s Pool, a pond in an ancient forest, seems to hold the answer to the mystery.

Marillier is a great storyteller, and Dreamer’s Pool is a satisfying and suspenseful feminist fairy tale for grown-ups. Admittedly, it didn’t feel terribly grounded in ancient Ireland; I kept thinking of The Princess Bride’s Florin. Still, I stayed up half the night happily finishing it.