Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

Dreamer's PoolDreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of Blackthorn and Grim

Publisher: Roc (November 4, 2014)

Author Information: Website

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Spellbinding” is the only word to describe Dreamer’s Pool. Reading it was like walking into a gorgeous, living fairy tale. I just loved this book, it’s probably one of the best I’ve read all year…and I’ve read A LOT of books this year.

This is the first in an adult series by Juliet Marillier, called Blackthorn and Grim. Blackthorn is a woman we meet at the beginning of the novel, imprisoned for speaking out against a wicked and corrupt chieftain. Hours before she is to be executed, she is visited by the fey, who offers her a chance to escape in exchange for her promise to set aside her desire for vengeance. Reluctantly, Blackthorn agrees and makes her way north to Dalriada to start her new life. She is trailed by her fellow prisoner and escapee Grim, a hulking man of few words. Unable to turn away anyone who asks her for help, Blackthorn also recognizes Grim’s potential as an ally, and the two of them strike up a tentative partnership.

Meanwhile in Dalriada, Prince Oran prepares to wed. He has never met his future bride the Lady Flidais, though he has seen her portrait and they have written extensively to each other. However, the crown prince is convinced that the sweet, compassionate and intelligent woman he has come to know through her letters is his perfect match, which is why he is dismayed when the Flidais who arrives at his castle is nothing like the Flidais he thought he knew. Had he been taken for a fool, merely blinded by youthful naiveté? Or is there something stranger, more mystical afoot? Perhaps the newly arrived wise woman and her big strong helper could be of some assistance in this mystery.

This is a tale of magic, set in a world where one imagines myths and legends can come to life, but it also feels surprisingly grounded at the same time, almost like a fairy tale infused with a bit of realism. These elements gave the world more depth and kept it from feeling too simplistic, but they were also muted enough not to be overbearing or risk completely obliterating the magical nuances. Marillier tackles the craft of world-building meticulously and flawlessly, striking the perfect tone. I’m beyond impressed.

Dreamer’s Pool is told through the perspectives of Blackthorn, Grim and Oran. These three characters made this book a joy to read, and there’s no hemming and hawing about it – I loved them all equally. They’re very different people, and the way they’re written by Marillier, you would never mistake any one of them for another. Each person’s voice feels unique and extraordinarily real and powerful. The reader perceives the world and various events through a character’s eyes, at the same time watching him or her develop along with the story. We’re with Oran as he grows from a young, carefree man into a thoughtful and worldly leader. We’re in Blackthorn’s head even as she is blinded by her own personal biases and unaware of her flaws. And Grim is just Grim. He’s simply an amazing and special man and there can be no other like him.

This book made me wonder why I waited so long to pick up something by Juliet Marillier. She writes so beautifully, with every word like an enchantment or spell drawing the reader deeper into the story. There’s a mystery here I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of, and then as we drew closer to the conclusion I didn’t want this story to end!

Alas, it did. But I’m also glad this is going to be a series because I can’t wait until we can return to the world of Blackthorn and Grim. Until then, I’ve bought other books by Marillier because I just can’t get enough of her writing. Dreamer’s Pool gave me a taste, and now I’m hooked.


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Roc Books!

26 Comments on “Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier”

  1. Oh I was curious about your review for this one. I love the cover and well I don’t read a lot of NA so it’s interesting to discover some good ones. It sounds like the story is beautifully done and I’m curious to discover the world and the characters now! Great review!


    • My apologies, this is not New Adult. It is an adult novel, but the start of a new series. The way I wrote it, “a new adult series by Juliet Marillier”, might have caused a bit of confusion, I’ve edited it now.


  2. So many bloggers abuse the ‘best book of the year’ statement, but I’ve been following your reviews for a while now, and this is the first time I’ve seen it, so that in itself tells me how much you loved this story. I’ve heard of Marillier’s Shadowfell series, however this one is new to me.


  3. Beautiful review! I’m so excited that you loved Dreamer’s Pool and I’m eagerly waiting on my copy. Juliet writes such beautiful stories and this sounds like an amazing one 🙂


  4. I still need to read ANYTHING by Juliet Marillier but this one has been drawing me in since I first heard about it. I AM THRILLED that you loved this one so thoroughly and your descriptions for the world-building, the stellar cast of characters AND the inherent enchanting fantasy world makes me KNOW I’ll absolutely adore this one. I NEED to get my hands on The Dreamer’s Pool ASAP, so I can read it and pop back in to compare notes 😀 Fantastic Review Mogsy^^


  5. With so many fairy tales stories right now I’d missed this one, but it looks really good. I especially like the sounds of grim. I’m not too sure about Blackthorn and her prejudices, but I still want to read this. Thanks for the review! 🙂


  6. This review made me giddy! I have a copy of Daughter of the Forest on my shelves (unread) and just pre-ordered Dreamer’s Pool. How could I possibly resist after all the great things people have been saying? Grim sounds like the perfect man…I’m already swooning and I haven’t even read the book! Finally gonna read a Marillier book – IT’S HAPPENING! 🙂


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