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Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
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Heart's Blood (edition 2009)

by Juliet Marillier

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5363218,778 (4.02)40
Member:MsScarletB
Title:Heart's Blood
Authors:Juliet Marillier
Info:Roc Hardcover (2009), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fairy tales, fairy tales retold, beauty & the beast, fantasy

Work details

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

  1. 70
    Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (willowsmom)
    willowsmom: An adaptation of Beauty and the Beast by an author with a similar voice.
  2. 30
    Fire by Kristin Cashore (Kerian)
    Kerian: Another beautifully written fantasy that Heart's Blood made me think of.
  3. 20
    The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (Herenya)
  4. 10
    Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (Herenya)
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» See also 40 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I approached Heart’s Blood with great anticipation but ended it with disappointment. What I adored about Marillier’s YA fantasies [b:Wildwood Dancing|13929|Wildwood Dancing (Wildwood, #1)|Juliet Marillier|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320541546s/13929.jpg|2024857]and [b:Cybele's Secret|963508|Cybele's Secret (Wildwood, #2)|Juliet Marillier|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1335030790s/963508.jpg|948409] was the lush writing, achingly sweet romances, and meandering yet still intricate plots. Sadly, all of those elements were missing in Heart’s Blood.

As I sat down to dig into this book, I was initially thrown off by the writing style, particularly the dialogue. I expected it to improve as I read on and grew accustomed to it, but unfortunately, the writing was weak for me throughout. I found the dialogue stilted; it was awkwardly formal while also sounding a shade too modern. As a result, the entire rhythm of the book was off for me because I was thrown out of the story whenever a character spoke. Marillier also relied on another writing no-no of mine: internal dialogue. When I wasn’t distracted by the spoken dialogue, I was irritated by the heroine Caitrin’s thoughts. I loathe inner dialogue, since as a rule, it seems that all human beings sort of loathe themselves on the inside. Thus all inner dialogue is too full of diffidence. I totally acknowledge that if my thoughts were presented to the world, they would not be that interesting because most of them are inane and selfish. I think most people’s thoughts are like this, so while a self-effacing and dull inner dialogue is rather realistic, I don’t appreciate this element of reality in literature. Inner dialogue is too pathetic and boring, and I hated hearing Caitrin’s steady roll of silly thoughts.

In terms of plot, Heart’s Blood was not much better. Everything about this book was so obvious to me as a reader, but of course, painfully non-obvious to the characters. A book needs conflict, but if I can see the resolution to a conflict with no difficulty, is it truly a conflict? Furthermore, if the conflict develops due to idiotic decisions on the part of the characters, is that a truly a conflict? No and no. I predicted everything that happened miles ahead of time. There was little complexity; there were no problems without easy solutions. This issue especially came to head with the romantic plot. Most of the reviews I’ve read praised the slow-burning romance, but to me, the romance was unsuccessful because there was never any question that things would not work out.

Because of these weaknesses, Heart’s Blood was very trite to me. Even the theme itself—the idea that anyone can overcome tough times with inner strength and hope—is a bit too afterschool Disney special. Although many reviewers loved this tale, I found it too simplistic. I enjoy being challenged as I read, and unfortunately, Heart’s Blood didn’t encourage me to think strenuously in any way. ( )
  IAmChrysanthemum | Jun 8, 2013 |
I'm not sure Heart's Blood actually stands with my other five star books in terms of how much I loved it, but it's the first of Juliet Marillier's books I've read (the other two being Wildwood Dancing and Cybele's Secret) that I felt genuinely excited about and eager to read, once I'd started. I ended up loving it quite a lot, with 'just a few more pages' syndrome and, near the end, excited little eeps and sighs. I'd hoped to enjoy Marillier's work more than I did, so it was lovely to thoroughly enjoy this, and that's probably inflated my rating an extra star.

I do have reservations about it -- the narrator, the main character, was not very well differentiated from Marillier's other narrators. There was the same tone, the same inclinations... There were differences in the characters, and they're certainly not carbon copies, but it didn't come through in her tone.

I was also a little put out by how quickly I realised the true identity of a certain character, and how long it took the main character to realise the same.

But, yes, for the most part, I loved it. It's an inventive retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it has a disabled protagonist, the issues of abuse which hover around it like a cloud from the very first pages are well-handled... I could believe in the situation, whole-heartedly: I enjoyed the setting, and the supporting characters, and believed in how they related to each other. For the first half of it, I couldn't predict what was going to happen, and I couldn't predict the way Marillier was going to reinterpret the story.

If there's to be a series, as I've seen suggested, then I'll definitely buy any subsequent books. But it does stand alone, too: it has a proper resolution, and the end is hopeful and suggesting the future without requiring follow-up, as such. ( )
1 vote shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
This historical fantasy was a bit of a disappointment for me. It's the first book I've read by Juliet Marillier, although I've thought about starting one of her series several times (they always have fabulous covers!). The setting is medieval Ireland, and the tale combines elements of Beauty and the Beast with Celtic folklore. The book is dense and it took me a long time to finish. There are lots of details and scenes of everyday life. At the center of the book is a really interesting plot and likable romantic leads, but for me, all of that got lost within dull surroundings. I guess I like my fantasy a little more action-oriented. The romance, too, builds very slowly. At times Heart's Blood reminded me of a Patricia McKillip novel, with its Celtic mythology and romantic storytelling, but where McKillip seems to choose each word carefully for the utmost lyrical impact, Marillier uses twenty words where five would do. If you like your fantasy dreamy and long-winded, this one's for you. Personally, I don't know if I would read another book by this author or not. Two and a half stars. ( )
  allthesedarnbooks | Feb 25, 2013 |
I originally reviewed this book on my blog - The Cosy Dragon. For more recent reviews by me, please hop over there.

Caitrin is running from the past, yet the future she is running into is even worse. Beset by ghosts and demons both real and imagined, can Caitrin do something useful with her life, and end up with the man she loves?

From the first couple of words, Marillier suckers the reader in. I found myself wanting to read on just to find out what Caitrin was fleeing from - whether I would be told that or not I waited breathlessly to find out.

The text seems a little stilted in the first couple of pages, but I was positive that it would improve. It's something after reading the three books of the Sevenwaters trilogy I was sort of expecting to find. It didn't bother me significantly though, because Caitrin had already pulled me in! I think it was a slightly easier read than those three books, but no less enjoyable

There are some early beautiful descriptions of the garden. Marillier has done a great job of landscaping the area for her reader while also striking a balance with history and the characters. I can imagine that a lot of research into Irish history went into this book, and it's been utterly worth it.

There are two hooks in the reader - the material Caitrin is researching (and that she is interested in) and also what is happening in the present. It's wonderful to see the character development of all the living characters, and also of some of the Host. Marillier deals nicely with rape, murder and torture - the reader isn't overwhelmed. The reader can face fears with Caitrin as she blossoms back into the independant woman she should be.

The use of mirrors providing further insight into the past is fascinating. The change in perspective from Caitrin to Nechtan really works well, and after an initial stumble, I found myself accepting the mirror premise. It hasn't been overused in the text, and that's what I think makes it work.

I read parts of the book aloud, and found that a couple of sentences in the passages I was reading were too long! I also struggled with the legitimate Irish names, which defied my attempts at pronunciation. However, my audience of 1 didn't care, and the text flowed smoothly and had a lovely rhythm about it.

This is a brilliant novel, just what I was hoping to read after the poor quality of 'Wit'ch Fire'. It had me reading past my bedtime because I had already spent the whole day reading it! I'd recommend this book for teenagers and adults. There is some very brief sexual content, but it's not enough to make the book unsuitable for younger readers. ( )
  Rosemarie.Herbert | Feb 14, 2013 |
Caitrin is on the run, and anywhere will do. Overcome by grief after her father’s death, she was taken advantage of and mistreated by her distant cousins after her sister married and moved away. When she finally fled, it was her precious writing box she took, for both she and her father were scribes.

During her flight she arrives at Whistling Tor, a fiercely guarded Irish town. She learns that the chieftan is a recluse and the villagers are afraid of what goes on on the hilltop where he lives. Hearing that he is in need of a scribe Caitran travels up the hill and meets some unlikely companions on the way. Caitrin learns how the chieftan, Anluan, is bound to the hilltop by the actions of his ancestor, for to leave would cause his unusual army to run amok and bring death and destruction on the area. As Caitlin and Anluan's relationship develops she realises that only through her love and determination can break the curse can be broken and set Anluan and his people free. A great read. ( )
  boppisces | Dec 16, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Juliet Marillierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delon, MelanieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Godfrey-Nicholls, GayeCalligraphersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van der Kuil, WillieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Saskia and Irie with love
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At a place where two tracks met, the carter brought his horse to a sudden halt.
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Book description
Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress belonging to Anluan - a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the region in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people, adn the woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.
Then the young scribe Caitrin appears in Anluan's garden, admiring the rare plant known as heart's blood Retained to sort through entangled family documents, Caitrin brings about unexpected change in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows.

But even as Caitrin brings solace to Anluan, and the promise of something more between them, he remains in thrall to the darkness surrounding Whistling Tor. To free Anluan's burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life - and their love.
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Anluan has been crippled since childhood, part of a curse that has besieged his family and his home of Whistling Tor. But when the young scribe Caitrin is retained to sort through family documents, she brings about unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows. But to truly free Anluan's burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life-and their love.… (more)

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