Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier is a charming and heart-warming retelling of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fairy tale.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. Surrounded by a wooded hill, and unknown presences, the crumbling fortress is owned by a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.
For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.
I adored this fantasy novel. Beautifully written and full of charming characters, Heart’s Blood is utterly absorbing and immersive.
When Caitrin, a young scribe who has recently lost her father, flees her home of Market Cross, she finds herself dumped unceremoniously in the middle of nowhere by a heartless carter. Unwilling to take her to the nearest town, Caitrin must continue her journey on foot and soon comes across Whistling Tor village where the inhabitants are frightened of ghostly apparitions that roam the forest. Believing her not one of the supernatural, she is admitted entrance and soon discovers that the Chieftain of Whistling Tor is in need of a scribe. With no money and no other option of employment she journeys up the hill to his residence, intent on getting the job. But all is not what it seems in Whistling Tor and soon Caitrin learns of a hundred-year-old curse on the Chief of Whistling Tor and learns she may be instrumental in being able to undo it.
This was the first book of Juliet Marillier’s that I had read and I’m sure it will not be the last. Her world was evocatively written, with the host – a supernatural entity of folk – and the aftermath of Anluan’s (Chief of Whistling Tor) stroke, an interesting twist on the fairy tale we know so well. The mystery of what horror plagues Whistling Tor kept me in suspense, as did the developing romance between Caitrin and Anluan which is well-paced and executed. It was a delight to lose myself in the world of Whistling Tor, the excitement of the battle against Norman invaders, the keen interest to see if the curse could be lifted.
Suffice to say, this is a must read for fantasy lovers and I look forward to reading more of Juliet Marillier’s body of work.