Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
Caitrin, a young scribe, escapes abusive relatives that were supposed to protect her after her father’s death:
The bruises on my skin—blue, black, yellow, an angry patchwork—would fade. There were other hurts, deeper ones, that would be harder to lose. You did it, Caitrin, I reminded myself. You got up and walked out.
Fortunately her father made sure her craft was well honed and she hopes to find work as a scribe to make a living.
Scared and on the run, she ends up in Whistling Tor, a place feared by the nearby villagers, whose woods are hunted by ghostly spectres.
Anluan, a young chieftain with unilateral paresis, rules over Whistling Tor and a family curse impedes him to leave its grounds.
“I hardly know what to say.” Anluan spoke with some awkwardness, as if he thought his words might offend me. “Your kinsman was right when he called me a cripple. I cannot ride, I cannot run, I cannot lead an army into battle. Not an army made up of earthly warriors of Magnus’s kind, anyway. But this force I can command. On Whistling Tor, the host is obedient to my will. While you stay here, I can keep you safe. I hope you will stay, Caitrin, now that you know the truth. We want you here. We need you.”
Anluan is burdened and tortured, he doesn’t see hope.
Caitrin brings light and color where darkness has reigned for so long.
“With courage and hope, we can conquer our fears and do what we once believed impossible.”
They grow closer every day but Normans threatens to invade the defenseless villages on Anluan’s lands.
He is cursed and crippled, how is he supposed to venture into battle and protect Caitrin?
Will they ever find a way to break the curse that holds Whistling Tor confined to the shadows?
“How could you not know?” His voice was full of wonderment. “You changed me utterly. You were like a…like a bright, wonderful bloom in a garden full of weeds. Like a graceful capital on a page of plain script, a letter decorated with the deepest, finest colors in all Erin. Like a flame, Caitrin. Like a song.”
Such a beautiful and original Beauty & The Beast retelling!
Even some of the classic magic elements like the rose that here it’s a flower called Heart’s Bloodare and the magic mirror that here has a more sinister use, are included so seamlessly you’ll feel they originally belong to this story!
It wasn’t perfect but I’m so glad I found out about this book because the tale and the ending left me all happy and hopeful…❤_❤
This is a PARANORMAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE.
I have to say, there’s not much world building and, at first, I was a bit confused by the quick change of register, from believable historical to paranormal.
Even if the setting is beautifully decribed, you have to take Whistling Tor’s existence for granted.
I really enjoyed the story even if, expecially the last 40 – 30%, I couldn’t help noticing things that kept bothering me:
• The reason Caitrin first leaves Anluan, like Belle does with the Beast, it’s completely different from Belle’s and in my opinion not truly consistent.
Anluan fears for her safety because of the impending war and her happiness because he isn’t sure he can perform in bed (yeah, you read it correctly -_-) so he asks her to leave.
It felt completely random to me and all the things that happen after she leaves were too contrived!
Every lose end in Market Cross (where she lived with her family), is tied up with a perfect bow…even her sister’s future with Magnus…when she mentioned him in their conversation I just knew they would end up together…it was completely random!
• The plot was dragged a little too much.
I found myself quick reading and skipping through Caitrin’s journey away from Whistling Tor because it felt senseless to me. In my opinion, way too much pages are spent on that.
Also…I knew who was responsible for the curse long before Caitrin did!
At some point it was quite obvious and still she kept wandering blind to it all.
• The sins of the men and women of the “host” are glassed over and I could’ve been ok with it, if it had remained that way for all of them.
When Gearróg’s sins are revealed and it turns out he killed his wife and children out of jelousy I just couldn’t see him the same way and his “sacrifice” at the end wasn’t much of a sacrifice because he gets the second chance any sinner dreams about.
So…what should my rating be? 3 or 4 stars?
▪ I loved the originality of the story and I enjoyed it even more because the plot surprised me.
It’s definitely not the “Beauty & the Beast” story you already know.
▪ I fell in love with both leads and secondary characters.
▪ The writing, even if a bit too “wordy”, is good and I couldn’t put this book down!
▪ I LOVED the ending.
3.5 would’ve been the perfect rating but, since I have to choose, I’ll round the rating up because finding a good original retelling it’s a rarity.
⭐ 4 Stars ⭐
Minor Explicit Scenes
Paranormal Historical Romance Readers, Readers looking for Beauty and The Beast Retellings.
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