Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

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: 


  1. That's too bad this was just an "okay" conclusion to a series you've loved. It seems too much time is spent on inconsequential tasks and while some authors can get away with this type of storytelling (Stiefvater, Marchetta) it doesn't seem to be the case here. Wonderful review, Keertana! Sorry to hear you're in a reading slump. :(

  2. I fear that for me already book 2 was bad, it was just such a downer! And then book 3 I can't even remember

  3. Oh no :( It's such a shame when a series starts to go downhill and it's sad when a book is just boring

  4. I worry when I see a series that starts well fall into a slump after a great first installment. Unfortunately, that doesn't give me much confidence in a series, you know? I'd have to be in the right frame of mind to start it. Thanks for your honest review, Keertana!

  5. So sorry this one was just a middle of the road read for you Keertana, especially since I know how big a fan of this series overall you are. It's always that much more disappointing when a beloved series starts to slip toward the end. I'm glad this is still a series you would reread as a whole though, her characters sound outstanding:)

  6. Ah sorry this wasn't the one to wow you. It happens but so glad you have the other books to revisit. I'm still glad you enjoyed the series.

  7. oh no, nothing worse then trying to get out of a slump only to run into a book that bores you :( at least it seems you got something out of it, even if it wasn't much.

  8. It's a shame the romance was poorly developed and that there wasn't enough satisfying action. There is no worse kiss of death for a story than being bored! Sorry this was kind of a whimper of an ending for the series, hopefully your next Marillier read will be better. Thank you for your thoughtful, honest review!

  9. No, no, no, no, no. :( This makes me sad. I skimmed your review since I've only read the first three books in this series so far. Maybe Marillier should have let it remain as a trilogy? I can't recall specifics, but I think I was mostly content with how Child of the Prophecy ends. I was planning on re-reading the first three and then reading the final ones, but maybe I should delay on those for a bit? I don't want to have my love of the first three brought down by a lackluster ending. I'm sorry this one didn't work out for you, Keertana.

  10. Oh I'm so sorry that this book didn't work out for you Keertana. I know how much you have adored Marillier's previous books, so it's always a shame when one you were expecting to help you out of your slump fails to do so. You've also mentioned before how Marillier is known for her complex characters and great romances, so it's a shame that these two aspects fell flat for you. I can totally understand why you would have been rooting for further development of this other character in the romance department. Thank you for another great review Keertana, I still be picking up a book by Marillier one day!

  11. I know how much you love this series so hearing this makes me really sad. I wish this book wasn't boring and that you enjoyed it more. Hopefully next one will bring back the old magic. In the meantime I should read this series, shouldn't I? Great review, Keertana :)

  12. I know how much you love this series so hearing this makes me really sad. I wish this book wasn't boring and that you enjoyed it more. Hopefully next one will bring back the old magic. In the meantime I should read this series, shouldn't I? Great review, Keertana :)

  13. So sorry this series didn't conclude more memorably, Keertana, but I'm so glad you still think so highly of it. Not sure if I'll ever get around to picking this up, not anytime soon anyway, but your praise for Marillier's writing is certainly worth a lot. I have to consider it!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  14. I still haven't made it past the second book in this series. I loved 1 and 2 so much that I'm afraid to go on. I'm sorry this one was such a disappointment. I would be majorly sad about that romance. I'm not ashamed to admit that it's one of the reasons why I read Marillier so rabidly. Though her story elements are great too. But I know you've loved many of these despite this disappointment. Is this the final final book in the overall series. I definitely want to read 3 at least. Thankfully these are mostly standalones so I won't feel too bad if I don't get through ALL.


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