Title: Flame of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters, #6)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Rating: 3 Stars
This review is SPOILER-FREE for the Sevenwaters Series, but if you'd like to read my reviews for the previous novels, you can find their links - as well as links to other Marillier novels - at the end of this review.
I picked up Flame of Sevenwaters as a last-ditch effort to pull myself out of a reading slump.
What a disappointment.
Quite simply put, this novel was boring. It took a significant amount of time to find its stride and, even then, the tell-tale qualities I look for in a Sevenwaters novel were absent.
Maeve is a delightful heroine, her narration starkly realistic and bold. We met Maeve in Child of the Prophecy but now, nearly ten years later in Flame of Sevenwaters, Maeve has learned to survive despite the fact that her hands are burned and useless. While Maeve's voice can often veer into bitterness, I thoroughly enjoyed her inner struggle; finding the courage to move on from the past instead of giving into the fears she continues to harbor. Moreover, the relationships Maeve sustains with those around her - from her father who eagerly welcomes her home after a long stay with Liadan and Bran to her mother who is constantly aware of Maeve's disability - are nuanced and infused with depth. Marillier has always excelled at developing complex relationships, which continues to carry through with this installment.
Flame of Sevenwaters is a satisfying conclusion to this long, but beloved, series. It wraps up the loose ends of the Mac Dara plot line, but not too neatly. With this last novel, Marillier escalates Mac Dara's interest in Sevenwaters, heightening the stakes at hand. Unfortunately, far too much of the story line is spent chronicling menial tasks from Maeve's re-introduction into Sevenwaters to her blooming relationship with her younger brother, Finbar, to the interest she takes in two stray dogs, Bear and Badger, she finds in the woods of Sevenwaters. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Flame of Sevenwaters lay in the miniature snippets told in third person from Ciaran's point of view as he uncovered the secret to bringing down Mac Dara. Of course, these were far too few, contributing minimally to the story as a whole.
Another negative aspect to this novel was, unexpectedly, the romance. Marillier's romances are one of the strongest components of this series. Every novel has featured an incredible love story, but Flame of Sevenwaters lacked a true arc. In fact, the name of the love interest appears at around the half-way point of this story and he himself only makes a proper appearance towards the end of the novel. Even more disconcerting, however, is the fact that there is a male friend who isn't quite love interest material but could have had the potential to be if developed in a slightly different manner. Maeve and her romantic interest in Flame of Sevenwaters share an emotional bond; theirs is a relationship composed of little conversation but large amounts of trust. Of this basic foundation, I have no complaint, but I could have used a great deal more discussion and development of the love story in this novel. I simply...wasn't on board.
Both Seer of Sevenwaters and Flame of Sevenwaters have been rather disappointing in light of this series as a whole. Where the former at least contained a worthy romance and sufficient action to carry it forward, this last installment lacked even those two components. Marillier's Sevenwaters series is one of the best Adult Fantasy series out there. It's full of heart, soul, and deep emotion. While its second trilogy has lacked the excellence of the original trilogy - with the exception of Heir to Sevenwaters - it still remains a memorable experience I won't be likely to forget anytime soon. And, best of all? I can - and will - be revisiting Sevenwaters; whenever I need Sorcha's strength, Liadan's courage, Fianne's will, Clodagh's perseverance, or even just the presence of Red, Bran, Darragh and Cathal to remind me that true love does, in fact exist. For that, for them, I cannot thank Marillier enough.
Sevenwaters Series (Chronological Order):
Other Marillier Novels: