May 19, 2010

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

Hearts BloodThe death of her father and the abuse suffered at the hands of relatives that were supposed to take care of her, sent eighteen year old Caitrin on the run. After traveling for days and with little money, she finds Whistling Tor -a small, out of the way Irish town near the west coast. When she overhears a man from the chieftain's fortress asking about a scribe, Caitrin jumps at the opportunity to get a job and a safe place to stay.

Caitrin's father was a scribe and taught Caitlin's his craft - an oddity in the Ireland of the twelfth century - so, against the advice of the town's people, Caitrin sets on the road uphill to meet the mysterious chieftain of Whistling Tor and his strange household.

Lord Anluan lives but with five people up in the fortress, victim of a palsy at the age of 13, he has never left his home and is still haunted by the deaths of his parents, and by the strange beings that inhabit the forest around his home. He's uneasy about hiring Caitrin, so full of life and 'normal', but he has a job that needs to be done so a hundred year old curse can finally be laid to rest.

Slowly, Caitrin makes a place for herself in Anluan's home and things begin to change, for Caitrin brings something with her that was all but lost at the Tor: hope. But not all residents of the Tor are open to change, and with a Normand invasion looming close, thought choices lay ahead for everyone.

Juliet Marillier is one of those authors who write so beautifully that they transport you to another place and you fall deeper into their stories with each turn of the page. Heart's Blood is a good example of that. The pace is a little slow at times but the mystery keeps you going. And I was glad to see some lose ends tied before the conclusion and I have to say I was quite happy with the ending of the story.

I found myself loving each of the characters almost as soon as I met them - Anluan, Caitrin and their close companions - including the dog, (awesome dog, always a plus!) and I was cheering for them as each found their own courage.

Perhaps it's not a book for everyone but it's worth giving it a try.

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