Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Review: Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Title: Heart's Blood
Author: Juliet Marillier
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Although Heart's Blood is only my second Juliet Marillier novel, I can already count her amongst my favorite authors...ever. Marillier has a distinct style of writing stories about kind, but fierce, female protagonists and tortured romantic interests, creating beautiful love stories all against a backdrop of fantastical imagination. If that isn't a recipe for success, then I don't know what is. Yet, with Heart's Blood, Marillier has surpassed her previous prowess, writing one of the most remarkable fairy tale re-telling of Beauty and the Beast that I've ever come across. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Heart's Blood has replaced Beauty and the Beast in my heart for I loved it far more than I did the original.
Unlike many authors who allow the constrictions of a fairy tale re-telling to constrain their limits of creativity, Heart's Blood is based only loosely off of Beauty and the Beast. Instead of brave Belle who replaces her father's place in the Beast's tower, we have strong Caitrin who seeks a job as a scribe on Whistling Tor, home to many mysteries. Instead of Beast, a truly horrific character, we have Anluan, a crippled and unhappy man who is oh-so-very-human. Instead of talking candles, clocks, and teapots, we have a motley crew of enigmatic spirits. And, most importantly perhaps, instead of a curse to correct the vanities of a foolish young prince, we have an age-old burden of evil and terror which is a curse like no other. While there are many similarities between the two tales, Marillier's takes on a life of its own quite often and the true linkage between these two fables is their combined theme of hope.
Caitrin is a heroine I love. On the surface, she seems to be perfect: kind, gentle, fierce, and brave. Yet, as the novel progresses, we are able to slowly peel back the many layers to Caitrin's personality, revealing her insecurities, vulnerabilities, and flaws every bit as egregious as Anluan's. When we first meet Anluan - bitter, angry, and stubborn - it's hard to warm up to him, but before long, he becomes a love interest every bit as swoon-worthy as the next. Although Heart's Blood is, at its core, a novel about hope, it is also a romance and the slow, subtle, and skillfull manner in which Marillier brings together these two flawed beings is utter perfection. It will make you sigh with contentment for theirs is an epic tale that will worm its way firmly into your heart.
In all honesty, there isn't very much more to say about Heart's Blood. Its realistic characters came alive for me, its intriguing setting grabbed me in from the first page, and the lore that this book is filled with is every bit as interesting as the fable it's based upon. If there are any faults to be found, they lie with the middle of the novel which became far too cheesy for my liking. Caitrin is the driving force behind Anluan's character change and much of that stems from the hope she gives him, but at times, this could borderline on preachy and become increasingly repetitive. Furthermore, the villain in this novel is rather obvious, but the multiple layers to the villain's evil nature will keep you on the edge of your seat, guessing until the end.
Heart's Blood is, in so many ways, a perfect novel. Wonderfully flawed characters, atmospheric setting, and a romance that will make you crave for something that real yourself, it is a fairytale you won't want to leave. It has made me a die-hard Marillier fan and I will be rushing out to get my hands on all her other novels at once - this type of writing is just too good to wait for. It demands to be read, savored, and cherished like no other.
Posted by Keertana at 12:00 AM
Labels: 4.5 Stars, Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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This is a beautiful review Keertana, I love books which rip you to shreds from just their writing alone, I have yet to still pick up a book by Mariller, but your praising review has definitely got me itching to pick one up soon! :)ReplyDelete
Slow, subtle romances are my favourite kind. I still need to try something by Marillier and this book is definitely shouting 'buy me'. I can't wait to give it a shot one day. :) Fantastic review as always!ReplyDelete
A beautiful review, Keertana! I've never heard of the author before and I never really liked fairytale re-tellings because they the endings are always obvious but I'll definitely be on the lookout for this! With the way you describe the setting and the folklore, I am already dying to read this. Plus, the curse of evil. YES.ReplyDelete
The romance is utter perfection?!! Count me in. Wonderful review Keertana! :)ReplyDelete
Beauty and the Beast is my absolute favorite fairy tale, so even though this is a more loose interpretation of it, it's still something I know I have to read! Plus a slow, subtle romance between flawed characters? Best. Thing. Ever. Thanks so much for putting this book on my radar Keertana, it's new to me and is going on my list for sure!ReplyDelete
A perfect romance! Awesome! I have heard so many wonderful things about this author and I am ashamed that I haven't read her yet!ReplyDelete
Keertana, I am so glad that you have become a die-hard Marillier fan! Keep reading and enjoying her works! I really enjoyed Heart's Blood, although it is probably my least favorite of her books...You need to read Daughter of the Forest!ReplyDelete
One nitpicky thing: it sounds as though the Beauty and the Beast you're using as the basis of comparison for Heart's Blood is the Disney film version. The Disney film version is VERY different from the original short story from the 1700s. The Disney version is definitely dumbed-down for a younger audience. A better basis of comparison would be Beaumont's original story, where the Beast is physically ugly but still very much a gentleman and there are no talking objects. Just wanted to bring this up because I did my thesis on Beauty and the Beast and so am very familiar with the tale and all of its renditions. Although I do agree with what you said that Marillier definitely does go with the basic premise and really turn it into her own story.
Wonderful review, hun! I haven't read anything by Juliet but I am really keen to, especially now! I love slow romantic build ups and this version of B&B sounds fantastic :)ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot! As if I need yet another reason to buy a new book. Now, I have to go purchase/borrow/steal/beat some one down to get get this book so that I can feel a sliver of happiness in my life. I now crave to read this. I recently read Shadowfell and fell in love and I'm secretly happy that I have something else of hers to add to my list. But don't tell anybody I said that.ReplyDelete
Eek I LOVE this book! I'm so glad you loved it just as much as I did! o_oReplyDelete
This is one of the books that made Juliet Marillier my favourite author too. I love nearly every book she has written. Wildwood Dancing is probably my favourite book of hers!
I'm still making my way through her Sevenwaters series but I've really enjoyed the ones I've read so far. And I'm excited to give Shadowfell a go!
Ahhhhhhhhh *waves fan flag* I absolutely adore Marillier's writing style and her books <3 This is one of my favorites work from her, because Beauty and the beast is my favorite fairytale! She made such a great story around it. I don't know that it is, but everything she writes is magical.ReplyDelete
Oh wow, this sounds amazing. I recently read her YA novel Shadowfell and it was awesome, so I need to buy this one asap!ReplyDelete
Beautiful review, Keertana! ^^
I really need to read a Juliet Marillier book. She's one of those authors you hear so much about but never actually get around to reading. I have a copy of Wildwood Dancing around somewhere and I hear that is her best, so I will probably start with that one when I get a chance. Glad you enjoyed this book so much. I love wonderful reading experiences like these. Great review, Keertana.ReplyDelete
Ah, such a gorgeous review, darling. :) Juliet Marillier is a top- notch writer and I'm so, SO thrilled that you loved this. I'm currently reading Ironskin (which is Meh and so underwhelming) and I keep comparing it to Jane Eyre and this. :(ReplyDelete
Awesome review, Keertana! I still remember your last Marillier review (though I forgot the title of the book) which was just wonderful even though the rating wasn't high enough for me. But after reading this, I'm now definitely looking out for her other works.ReplyDelete
Oh no, another one going on my must-read list! Your review completely convinced me and I cant wait to be drawn into the beauty that is this book. It sounds epic!ReplyDelete
i hope you won't come after me with a knife, but I haven't read a single Marillier book... YET. I've developed a taste for high fantasy lately, and I blame it all on GRaceling and Fire. So after finishing Seraphina (OMG, SERAPHINA, I'M IN LOVE!) and reading Bitterblue, I'll definitely pick one up. I avoid fairy tale retellings at all costs, but if you remember to, drop me a note with your favorite and I'll choose that one.ReplyDelete
And btw, Fire was amazing. I think I prefer Graceling, but then again, I thing Brigan is much more attractive than Po, or simply more my type, so that balances things out.
And sheesh, I ramble in my comments. :DReplyDelete
Pretty new header!! Yes, I'm sorry, I'm just now getting to go through my reader after days of dark and clean up. SO excited about Heart's Blood though. This is getting top priority for me as far as JM goes after I finish Child of the Prophecy.ReplyDelete
I actually really love 'bare bones' type retellings, and of course I love Beauty and the Beast. It's the PERFECT story for Marillier to retell too--she's the queen of slow burn, and it's such a slow burn story. I'm so glad to see you so in love with Marillier after only two books! I can't wait for you to start DotF. =)
Wow. A fantastic review! I got chills thinking about the possibility of reading this book soon! I LOVE fairytale retellings. And after reading the Sevenwaters series, I trust this author so much. She is everything you say: "Marillier has a distinct style of writing stories about kind, but fierce, female protagonists and tortured romantic interests, creating beautiful love stories all against a backdrop of fantastical imagination." LOVE THAT sentence. I've been in a reading rut of books that have depressed me, and may go get this immediately.ReplyDelete
Oh wow, this sounds amazing. I recently read her YA novel Shadowfell and it was awesome, so I need to buy this one asap! Beautiful review, Keertana! ^^ReplyDelete
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