Published by Roc on October 2, 2009
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
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Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. Surrounded by a wooded hill, and unknown presences, the crumbling fortress is owned by a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.
For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.
When Bonnie found out that I love Beauty and the Beast, she sent me a beautiful hardcover of Heart’s Blood and told me I MUST read it because it’s an amazing retelling of one of my favorite fairytales. Of course I’d been hearing wonderful things about Juliet Marillier, and how her books are the makings of dreams and happiness and stardust, so I was very excited to dive in! As always, my main points are bolded. :)
1. I was hooked from the very beginning because Marillier’s writing is so smooth and lyrical. She also really knows how to set the stage for a story. I loved the atmosphere and mystery she created. Things felt very ominous as well as romantic, and even though the book reads a bit slower that the books I usually love I really found Heart’s Blood to be so captivating and magical.
2. The Tor is a mysterious, mystical place. I loved the descriptions of the castle and the landscape. The Tor is not just home to Anluan and his staff, but also beings who are caught in limbo between life and death–tethered to the Tor by dark magic that nobody understands how to undo. Caitrin is the first glimmer of hope the residents of the Tor have seen in a very long time, and as she works to discover the root of all these secrets some support her efforts and some try to stop her. Who do you trust?
3. I loved all the characters. They are so dynamic and flawed, and really made me feel like they were real. They are all broken in some way: Anuluan, Caitrin, Magnus, Eichri, Rioghan… all of them, and they pick up their pieces together and lean on each other for support. Muirne is creepy, not to mention the spirit child who grows very attached to Caitrin but is also dangerous if she gets mad. I LOVED Fianchu, the huge, lovable, loyal dog that never leaves the side of those he protects. Everyone grows and changes drastically from beginning to end.
4. So. Many Feelings. Throughout the second half of the book the beings that live on the Tor really wiggled their way into my heart. When they suffered, I suffered.
5. The romance was so sweet and my heart broke as I worried what everyone’s fate was going to be.
6. There’s some sad things that happen that I was not prepared for. I was ok, though, and only cried a little so I consider that a win.
Heart’s Blood was my first book by Juliet Marillier, and it will surely not be my last. I love her beautiful writing and her amazing storytelling. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast, unique settings, heartwarming characters, and triumph.