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Tower of Thorns | Thoughts

4.75 stars...can I do that? Well, I'm doing it.

I absolutely love Juliet Marillier's writing. She's one of my top three. She has this wonderful ability to spin fantastic stories I've never heard before, even if I think I recognize them. Sometimes I can guess the direction and outcome, sometimes I cannot.

Tower of Thorns was not only a tale I'd never heard before, it was one that left me hanging in the mystery up until the end...there were moments I thought I'd caught on, thought I'd worked out where it was headed...but no. It is so refreshingly enjoyable to find a story so magical and original that I was held in suspense until the end. As with all Marillier's novels, the fey are a subtle yet constant presence and a meaningful part of the characters' lives. They help or hinder as they see fit - after all, they do not have the same way of thinking as humans.

Dreamer's Pool let us get to know Blackthorn quite well in all her broken, angry, standoffish misery. Grim we were given only a glimpse, and he grabbed my heart even then. Tower ensured Grim would not be letting go anytime soon, and I loved getting to know him deeply. Gentle, kind, devoted, loyal, broken...he is every bit the balance to Blackthorn's rage.

I can barely say which POV I enjoyed more. Blackthorn's struggle with the lie she is keeping from Grim, this on top of her task to rid the tower of the monster tormenting all of Bann; Geleis' perfectly timed insights as to what the monster truly is, and her real purpose for Blackthorn; Grim's haunted seclusion and drive to protect and please his friend at all costs, even his emotional well-being. Between the three of them I felt completely submersed in Tower, feeling invested in each of their lives and understanding all their different kinds of aches. Love, loss, revenge, betrayal, failure...

There is such a distinct voice for each of the characters, not to mention the clever narration shifts from first person to third. I always enjoy when an author can smoothly transition to give each character yet another individual quality.

At the forefront of Tower is the conflict of the monster in the tower, but it is the growth of Blackthorn and Grim that shines through as most important, both in their unique relationship and in their separate journeys to becoming whole once more after what they've suffered. Grim and Blackthorn's relationship is a rare and beautiful one; one that, as she reiterates when necessary, cannot be explained easily to others who have conventional ideas of what female and male companions must share. But Marillier explains it to us just perfectly, and if some kind of romantic relationship develops in the future of these two, I trust she will do justice to the bond they already share - which is one that feels so much more important than any kind of romance. Neither seems to realize just how much they need one another, even if deep down they're starting to understand.

So, why dock the quarter point? Simply because I felt the ending was too abrupt. It was all wrapped up perfectly, I wouldn't wish a different outcome for anyone, I just wanted a bit more. Even so, this was in no way a harsh enough critique to do something drastic like a halfpoint. :) Really, I seem to be critiquing only that there was not enough of the story I loved...should that even count?

Not until I read something by Marillier do I remember that an author can subtly wrap strings around your heart for not just one main character in one story, but for all her characters big and small in an intricate web of immediate and grand scheme tales. While her tales are seeped in old magic, the fey, and fantasy, she has a way of convincing you it's all real, so I find myself watching more closely in forests to catch a glimpse of a little fur cloak, making me think twice if the squirrel rushing by really was just a squirrel, and not something else entirely.

Virginia DeFeo