Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

tower-of-thornsTower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
Series: Blackthorn & Grim #2
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Setting: Ancient Ireland
Published by Roc, 2015
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Nov 3, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
448 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.

Initial impressions

  • I love this series! So happy to read more about Blackthorn and Grim.


  • When I first heard about the thorns around the tower I thought of Sleeping Beauty. And the book has a little of that vibe.
  • We find out a lot more about Grim in this book. I really like him. He’s steadfast and loyal and smart–though he and many others don’t think so. He’s used to himself and others thinking he’s stupid.
  • Blackthorn is very troubled through much of this book. Both Blackthorn and Grim still have a long journey before they are healed–if they can heal. During a lot of the book they keep secrets from each other.
  • As the book opens Blackthorn and Grim are quite content with their lives in Winterfalls, but, of course, that changes quickly.
  • First, Blackthorn and Grim travel to court to spend the summer with Prince Oran and his wife. Flidais is pregnant with her first child and wants Blackthorn there to make sure all goes well.
  • Then, Lady Geiléis comes to court and requests help. A monster is creating havoc in her land–constantly crying and howling everyday from a tower on an island in the middle of a river. This causes a blight on the land and the people. She has tried to drive the monster away, but the tower is surrounded by an impassable barrier of thorns.
  • Lady Geiléis wants someone–Blackthorn–to travel back to her home with her to help break the curse which apparently can only be broken at Midsummer.
  • We know pretty much from the beginning Lady Geiléis isn’t entirely truthful, but it’s not until the end of the book we find out exactly what she withholds.
  • Blackthorn doesn’t want to go at first, but ultimately decides to.
  • Blackthorn has also met an old friend from her childhood who had introduced her to her husband. They were all rebels and had similar beliefs. She thought he was dead so is overjoyed to see him again and talk about old times.
  • I like that the characters are well-rounded. They have good and bad in them. That makes for a more complex story.
  • There’s a hint of romance in this book and I’m not sure how I feel about that.


  • I never got a real idea who Lady Geiléis is. Blackthorn questions some of her actions, but we never get any real answers about some of her actions and character.

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  So happy to read the second book in the series. Even though I had questions about Lady Geiléis I still enjoyed this book a lot and look forward to the next book.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Juliet Marillier has been a full-time writer for about twelve years, after working as a music teacher and public servant. She was born in Dunedin, New Zealand – the most Scottish city outside Scotland itself – but now lives in Western Australia. Juliet’s novels combine historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and family drama. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both fields. However, her stories focus above all on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge

Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier


Dreamer’s Pool
by Juliet Marillier
Series: Blackthorn & Grim #1
Genre: Fantasy
Published by Roc Hardcover
Library book
434 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: 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.

The need to see so many people and to stay courteous left me ill-tempered and weary at the end of the day. Grim was good at having a brew ready when I needed it.


  • The language is lyrical and the story is deeply satisfying.
  • I love the setting of long  ago Ireland. If ever a place might have magic Ireland would be one of my choices!
  • I’ve seen that other reviewers called this a fairytale and that’s certainly true. And it even has a character named Grim!
  • The story is absorbing and even though told from three points of view (Blackthorn, Grim and Prince Oran) it flows well and the three characters have distinct voices. I like having the different points of view of some of the same happenings in the story.
  • The book takes place in a fantasy version of Ireland and has the feel of old stories.
  • Blackthorn doesn’t like being with people and doesn’t have the patience to have to listen to gossip…which, of course, she has to listen to as a healer. This is also part of her healing, I think–having to learn patience and to be with people again.
  • Blackthorn and Grim are both very damaged characters which I imagine will play a big part in the books to come. I look forward to learning more about each of them.
  • This book is a mystery as well as a fantasy and I figured out some of the mystery, but that didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book and I wasn’t sure how it would end.
  • The character who saves Blackthorn–probably a Fae. . . we don’t know his motivations. . . who he is exactly or why he saved her. We get a few clues, but I look forward to learning more in future books.


  • None. This book is a wonderful beginning for a series.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is the first book I’ve read by Juliet Marillier and I don’t know why I waited so long. I own several more books by her and want to read them soon.
  • I can’t wait for the next book and I gave this book an A- only because it’s the first book I’ve read by Ms. Marillier and I want all of her books to be as good or even better!
  • This is one of my favorite books of the year (see my Top Ten Tuesday for this week and for last week as she is one of my favorite new authors, too.)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge (Hoping to read 100 books this year)
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog (Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite new authors this year!)