Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool


Title: Dreamer’s Pool

Author: Juliet Marillier

Rating: 4/5 stars

Series? Yes


Book Depository

I was in a bit of a book slump so I had to run back to a tried and true favourite author: Juliet Marillier. I love the unique characters and the lore used in this book – though my favourite Juliet Marillier remains The Sevenwaters Series.

The story follows three point of view, each character distinct and complex. Their tale is intertwined, though they were each pushed the story forward via different personal agendas.



I. Strong Female Characters

Compelling female characters are the hallmark of Juliet Marillier’s writing. Her ladies can be strong, they can be maternal/nurturing figures, they can have a touch of magic, or even a physical handicap: but they’re always intriguing with an untameable spirit. I love them, and the protagonist of Dreamer’s Pool is definitely one of those classic Marillier heroine.

‘I’m not after personal redemption. I want justice. I want that man to admit to his misdeeds. I want him to pay the price.

Blackthorn is amazing. It’s not common to see an older woman take centre stage in fantasy, even less common for her to be so truly dark and prickly. She’s not easy to love, having been driven into a creature of spite and vengeance by Lord Mathuin. When we first meet her, Blackthorn has been imprisoned by Mathuin for over a year, during this time she suffered both physical and sexual abuse. Blackthorn is plagued by the need to exact her revenge throughout the entire book, and she’s understandably wary of all men.

However, a bargain with a Fey lord, Conmael – meant that Blackthorn had to set her vengeance aside and set out to the distant land of Dalriada. She’s tasked with aiding all who comes to seek her help for seven years before she can claim complete freedom. Through this story, we slowly see Blackthorn regain her humanity and her trust in people. We also see how fiercely intelligent, crafty, and practical she is. Nonetheless, she’s no perfect heroine – with a lot of her previous experiences clouding her judgement with anger.

II. Lovable Male Characters

Grim being a man of few words and all of them carefully chosen. We understood each other’s need for silence.

Get this, a male protagonist who is i) not handsome and ii) not romantically involved with the female protagonist! The dynamic between Blackthorn and Grim is an absolute breath of fresh air (though, being so accustomed to the beautiful romances in Juliet Marillier’s novel, I admit I was a little disappointed).  Grim is basically a giant teddy bear, being physically strong but very much empathetic to both Blackthorn and other characters he encounters in the story. He served as Blackthorn’s moral compass at numerous points during the tale, her voice of reason when anger affects her  Grim also possesses his own kind of intelligence, although his silence may initially be viewed as dimness at first.  I really enjoyed reading his POV as his insights and views are different from many protagonists I’ve read.

They were private; secret; a precious bond between my sweetheart and me. I believed in the letters. I believed in true love, the kind from ancient tales

The other POV in the book is that of Prince Oran, his tale stands a bit separate from Blackthorn and Grim’s, and he also undergoes the most conventional story arc of the three characters. Initially an idealistic young man, caught up with fancies of love and an image he’s conjured up of his betrothed Flidais, Oran grows rapidly throughout the series. In fact, he is the character that underwent the most development in the tale. I enjoyed seeing his growth from Prince to King – and as he learns from his mistake.

III.  Conflicts Rooted In Magic and Nature

Though the Feys only appeared during the beginning of the book, I felt the plotline in Dreamer’s Pool were still rooted in mystery and magic. The main plot follows the questions surrounding Flidais, who is totally changed after she almost drowns in Dreamer’s Pool. Although the ultimate reveal is a bit predictable, I did like the way the characters went around solving the enigma that is Flidais.  I was a little bit uncomfortable with how feminine sexuality was portrayed, as far as Flidais was concerned – nor do I totally agree with how her storyline ended. Maybe I am being too sensitive?  If you’ve read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it + anything else in the book!

This is a very character-centric book, so I felt that the plot was at times quite slow and plodding. Thankfully, my investment in the main three characters prevented me from drifting off to skim-land.

I look forward to reading more of Blackthorn and Grim’s future adventures, and thanks to Netgalley, I think I can get onto that very soon!

35 thoughts on “Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool

  1. ❤ Marillier. Though granted I've only read three books, my favorite being her Wildwood duology. This book is on my TBR! I might actually welcome the nonromantic angle somewhat, because all three times I've read the romance angle in her books, I ended up as a quibbling puddle of tears. TEARS I TELL YA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have excellent taste, Mari! I adore Marillier as well! I love Wildwood, but you should try Daughter of the Forest – I think that’s my favourite of hers, followed by Heart’s Blood. Both of which will also reduce you to romance tears!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Daughter of the Forest was my third Marillier book. I loved that, too, though it did take a bit of time for me to warm up to it. And the AWFULHORRIBLE that happened to Sorcha was so depressing I had to stop reading it for a while. But again, that damn romance made me BAWL.


  2. You’ve been recommending Juliet Marillier for a while now but I’ve never properly checked out her books, apart from Wildwood Dancing which I included in a fairytale retelling Top Ten Tuesday. But this sounds amazing! Blackthorn sounds like such an interesting character with lots of character development. And Grim is probably going to be my new non-sexy, non-romantic Rowan, when I get around to reading this. I want to hug him already.


  3. Your review is absolutely stunning. Everything you’ve said is exactly as I thought so too. I’m suprisingly happy at how prickly Blackthorn is, I couldn’t imagine her any other way, she’s so straightforward and its so awesome! And she isn’t actually that old, only thirty something?

    Gina ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. EEEP thank you I loved your one for these booksa s well! She is late 20s I think, but as I often read YA where they are all like 16, she is ‘mature’ by comparison. She’s close to my age actually LMAO *sad moment*


      1. lol – I was about chime in about Blackthorn not being old either, ha ha ha… um, I’m older than her bahaha!

        I’m excited to be picking up book 2 soon too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We are definitely not old haha!! Just those teen protagonists who are too young lmao. I hope to start book two this week, hope we both enjoy it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such an amazing review, I couldn’t have said it better! I loved Blackthorn so much, I couldn’t imagine her as anything other than prickly, she suits it so well. she’s so blunt and direct and that makes her respected and feared at the same time.

    I had written an comment before, but I think WordPress are it, and I can’t remember what else I was going to say!

    Gina ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read anything by this author but OMG that needs to change asap! I love that this book is so character driven and that most of the characters go through this journey. I can usually handle slow plots in fantasy books if the characters are strong which seems to be the case with this one. I’m going to go look up The Sevenwater series in my library catalog!
    Lovely review, Aentee.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Sevenwaters series is the bestttt I think you’ll love them Nick, as they are ROMANCE FILLED. All the romance in those ooks are EVERYTHING. Read it!!


    1. There’s no central romance to this (except for Oran and Flidais, I guess) but the characters alone and their relationship are worth reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I believe I have a couple of her books (unread, obviously). I can’t remember when I finally decided that fantasy isn’t my thing, but there you have it. Sometimes, it makes me wonder what I’m missing. I’m a slow reader when I read books from this genre, so I get bored easily. I know this author is widely recommended though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Juliet Marillier’s books are not too heavy on magic, a lot of them are more like historical, so I hope you’ll check her out one day!


  7. I’ve been meaning to read Juliet Marillier for forever! I bought Daughter of the Forest and its waiting patiently in my TBR pile. This one sounded really interesting too! I guess I’ll have to add it to the list.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Whenever I think of Juliet Marillier, I think of Gina at Behind The Pages. She absolutely adores her too and she’s such a lovely author, despite me not having read anything of hers. I love character driven fantasy, as a non fantasy reader, it makes it so much easier for me to be able to invest and immerse myself more. An older protagonist AND a male character who ISN’T the love interest for her? my goodness, it’s almost unheard of! Based on that alone I’ll have to snap up a copy. Incredible review and absolutely LOVE the graphic Aentee, so glad you really enjoyed this one ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only started talking to Gina recently and omg her love for Marillier and Throne of Glass has me IN LOVE, I tell you. Juliet Marillier definitely has a huge focus on characters rather than storyline, so I think you will adore her!


    1. Start with Heart’s Blood (a standalone) or Wildwood Dancing (a duology, but YA)! Her works are all pretty awesome, though!


    1. You need to read Daughter of the Forest! It’s such a beautiful book 😀 I am so glad you enjoyed this one as well, can’t wait to hear what you think of book 2!


  9. YAY I’M SO HAPPY YOU LIKED IT!!! This series is what put Juliet Marillier on my radar to begin with so I’m always pleased to see it get some love. Blackthorn’s age was one of my favourite things about her too – there aren’t a lot of badass middle aged ladies in SFF these days. I’m also fascinated by Grim, I can’t wait to get more of his undoubtedly dark backstory!


  10. Ahhh you read Dreamer’s Pool!! None of my friends have read it yet but I love Blackthorn so much as a character. I enjoy the character arcs in Marillier’s books so much but I agree that Flidais/Ciar is judged quite harshly by the other characters and I hope that one of the sequels will open up her ending a bit more at some point.


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