Tag Archives: #julietmarillier

The One Impossible Labyrinth by Matthew Reilly -a review

the one impossible labyrinthThe One Impossible Labyrinth (Jack West Jr #7) by Matthew Reilly

THE END IS HERE

Jack West Jr has made it to the Supreme Labyrinth.

Now he faces one last race – against multiple rivals, against time, against the collapse of the universe itself – a headlong race that will end at a throne inside the fabled labyrinth.

AN IMPOSSIBLE MAZE

But the road will be hard.

For this is a maze like no other: a maze of mazes. Uncompromising and complex. Demanding and deadly.

A CATACLYSMIC CONCLUSION

It all comes down to this.

For it ends here – now – in the most lethal and dangerous place Jack has encountered in all of his many adventures. And in the face of this indescribable peril, with everything on the line, there is only one thing he can do.

Attempt the impossible.

Published 12 October 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$39.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

It’s finally here!! The finale! Jack West Jr. is finally going to tackle the final challenge and of course, be the ultimate victor in this race. No spoilers but I think we all know who’s going to win in this novel, right? The good guy! Yep, this one is completely a roller coaster feel good sort of read. And coming right at the end of Sydney lockdown, #winning !!

As followers of series would expect, this last book in the series is chock-a-block full of action. If things aren’t exploding, it’s raining bullets. If you’re not being shot at, you’re running through a maze full of life threatening traps. I seriously feel like I couldn’t read fast enough; my eyes couldn’t keep up with how fast the action is taking place in my brain. The team is split into several groups and while, Jack’s team is the primary focus, there were switches in views. I do feel like it’s an action blockbuster movie that I’m “seeing” only in my head.

While I loved following their adventures; the twists on mythologies and each book always action-packed, I also find it to be a bit predictable in one particular way. That is, never believe that someone died unless their corpses are actually presented to you on the page lol. And in this way, I didn’t waste a tear at all.

All my life I’ve watched you and wondered what it is that makes you a hero. And I figured it out: it’s trying when nobody else thinks it’s even worth trying, when the odds really are stacked against you or when your friends and family are taken away from you.

That is why fans love Jack West Jr. and always, without fail, cheer for him and his team. And in centre of things, he fought for humanity so in the end, we all win. The One Impossible Labyrinth is an unmissable finale. Read It!

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook  |  twitter  |  instagram

A Song of Flight by Juliet Marillier -a review

a song of flightA Song of Flight (Warrior Bards #3) by Juliet Marillier

Two warriors. One wields the power of music, one the strength of her sword. Both face a grave threat in this enthralling historical fantasy.

After a violent encounter with masked men and the sinister Crow Folk, Prince Aolu of Dalriada disappears without a trace, and his companion Galen is seriously injured.

Liobhan and the Swan Island warriors seek answers to the prince’s abduction. For Liobhan this mission is personal, as Galen is her beloved brother.

While she and her team investigate, Liobhan’s younger brother Brocc is in serious trouble. Brocc’s secret attempt to communicate with the Crow Folk triggers a shocking incident, and sends him on a path which endangers the one he loves above all else.

What brought the Crow Folk to Erin? And who plots to use them in an unscrupulous bid for power? As Liobhan and Brocc seek the truth, it becomes clear the two missions are connected – and an extraordinary mystery unfolds.

Published 27 July 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I read it too fast that I’m totally having a mind blank trying to write this review. Truly, I could NOT put the book down until I finished and err… it wasn’t 11pm as I felt it should’ve been but 1 AM 😲 I guess this most of all would tell just just how good, how immersive, and just how brilliant A Song of Flight is.

One thing I really loved about this instalment in the series is that all of the family was here. Granted the main protagonists remain Liobhan, Dau, & Brocc with a few secondary POVs but we get to see a little of  Blackthorn & Grim too and I guess if you’re just as in love with this universe, you’d swoon just as I have done. There was also something about Brocc this time around. I never felt drawn to him previously but he’s really shown himself in this book that I think he even outshone Liobhan and that’s not an easy thing to do.

There was still a mystery to be solved by Liobhan and her Swan Island warrior counterparts but finally, the overriding mystery of the Crow Folk (and therefore, Brocc’s story) has reached the pinnacle and it’s make or break time. And at the end, there were no strands left hanging with all questions and futures more or less tidied up. I hope that this is not a goodbye to this universe, though, and that we’ll see a bit more of this family in the future.

I don’t re-read many books even as I pick up a sequel, I don’t usually re-read the previous book but for this trilogy I did. Not because I felt that I have but because I really wanted to dive into this world again and again. And even now as I just finished A Song of Flight mere hours ago, I feel the need to either reread this book again or maybe go right back to the beginning with Dreamer’s Pool. If you haven’t read Marillier before, I strongly recommend you begin immediately!

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Juliet is the author of twenty-one historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, as well as a book of short fiction. Juliet’s novels and short stories have won many awards.

Juliet lives in a 110 year old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth, Western Australia. When not writing, she tends to her small pack of rescue dogs. She also has four adult children and eight grandchildren. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook

Juliet Marillier: Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim #3)

juliet-marillier

Juliet Marillier was born July 27, 1948 in Dunedin, New Zealand and grew up surrounded by Celtic music and stories. Her own Celtic-Gaelic roots inspired her to write her first series, the Sevenwaters Trilogy. Juliet was educated at the University of Otago, where she majored in music and languages, graduating BA and a B Mus (Hons). Her lifelong interest in history, folklore and mythology has had a major influence on her writing.

Juliet is the author of twenty historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, as well as a book of short fiction. Juliet’s novels and short stories have won many awards.
Juliet lives in a 110 year old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth, Western Australia. When not writing, she is active in animal rescue and has her own small pack of needy dogs. She also has four adult children and seven grandchildren. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

Find Juliet on: goodreads  |  website  |  facebook

Q&A with Juliet

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Dark, always.

Coffee or Tea? Tea while I work, a long black as the occasional treat.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? I never, ever dog-ear – I was taught to respect books! I have lots of bookmarks, proper ones.

Plot or Character? Character first, but you need a good plot too.

HEA or unexpected twist? Provided at least one character has made a journey and become wiser / learned something / developed as a person, either is OK. HEA is probably not realistic – happy for some is not happy for all – but I don’t like an unresolved ending.

Q: You have previously mentioned that Blackthorn & Grim are ‘more damaged than those in [your] previous books’. What was the inspiration behind these 2 characters? Why did you choose to write such broken characters and what motivate you to put these two in partnership?

A: I knew some readers were keen for me to write an older female protagonist – that was part of the inspiration for Blackthorn, who is oldish by early medieval standards, though we’d barely call her middle-aged now. They lived much shorter lives in those times.

I’d been reading a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially in the military, and wanted to write about characters scarred by terrible events in the past, trying to work their way through, alone or together. I thought it would be more interesting to write, and to read, characters who were less heroic, less physically attractive, and generally harder to like than some of my previous protagonists. I ended up loving both Blackthorn and Grim. I think their flaws make them more real. As for putting them in partnership, I have seen how much the support of peers can mean to people with PTSD. I thought of Blackthorn and Grim as somewhat like Modesty Blaise and Willy Garvin, who share a deep friendship and mutual support.

 

I know that whilst you had a longer series in mind, Blackthorn & Grim has only contracted a 3 book deal. I am rather disappointed in having to say goodbye though I hope we may meet again sooner than later!

Yes, I had thought the publishers might approve of my writing a couple more in the series even though the initial contract was for three books. After all, Blackthorn does agree to keep to Conmael’s rules for seven years – but the publisher asked me to wrap it up in Den of Wolves. To my surprise I managed to make it work well in the three books. I’m satisfied with the overall story arc. But I am sure Blackthorn and Grim went on solving mysteries and having weird adventures.

Q: You’ve mentioned that it’s been tricky to find a balance so that Den of Wolves has a rounded ending for a trilogy and yet leave also a possibility for more in the future. Is there a particular theme/topic you’d like to tackle with these two characters that you haven’t yet explored?

A: There are many possibilities, but sharing them would probably create spoilers for people who have not yet read Den of Wolves.

Q: In my review of Dreamer’s Pool, I compared it to Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Deathmistress-of-the-art-of-death with a fairy tale spin. Are you familiar with this book/series? Is there a particular ‘mystery’ book that inspires you to incorporate mystery into your fantasy historical works? (If anyone is interested, my review for Mistress of the Art of Death can be found here.)

A: I haven’t read Mistress of the Art of Death, but I will do so on your recommendation. I love well-crafted historical mystery series – Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books are a favourite, and I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. As well as the stand-alone mystery plots, both of those series have beautifully researched, evocative period detail and casts of central characters with personal stories that slowly develop through the whole series. Blackthorn & Grim was my attempt to do something similar. I’m not sure if the next project will be a mystery or something completely different.

Q: I loved this quote at the end of Tower of Thorns,

” What happened felt too big to take in. It was a tale of cowardice and courage, intrigue and simple goodness, choices that were complicated mixtures of right and wrong.”

This summarises what I feel about this book. I think fairy tales are usually about making the right choices; do your characters make their own choices or do they need your guidance? How do you find the balance between having them making their decisions [in character] and where you want them to be?

A: I always try to keep them in character. That means they often take a long time to get around to making those right choices, and sometimes they never actually do so, because that’s how it is in real life. And even in a story that contains magical elements, the human characters are just that – human, flawed and fallible. They make mistakes, they stumble and lose their way, they hurt those they care about. But they can also be brave, unselfish, and honourable. As the writer, it’s up to me to make the characters believable. While I’m writing they feel entirely real to me.

Q: In the Acknowledgements of Den of Wolves, you’ve noted that the idea came from ‘a traditional tale from western Scotland, Big MacVurich and the Monster.’ For those of us who have not read the book nor have any knowledge of this particular tale, could you share a little on what this particular tale is about? Also what about this tale that inspire you to incorporate it in a Blackthorn & Grim’s story?

A: I can’t share much about the original tale without giving away a central plot element from Den of Wolves. As a druid I was inspired to write a story in which trees played a central part. The old tale is about a special house made using wood from every kind of tree in the forest. Each tree has a particular significance in druidic lore, and therefore each conveys a specific blessing on the person who builds the house, or has it built – prosperity, fertility, compassion, insight and so on. I called this construction a heartwood house. Den of Wolves doesn’t follow the MacVurich tale exactly, but just as the original story is quite dark, so is my variation on it. If there’s a lesson in the story, it’s this: Don’t dabble with magic unless you have pure and unselfish intentions, because magic always comes with a cost, and that cost may be more than you can afford to pay. Den of Wolves also has a theme of love, and how the power of love can draw people together or push them apart.

Q: When we first met Blackthorn, she was screaming for revenge and this was her focus for living. How would you describe her growth at the end of Den of Wolves? (This might be a bit tough without giving away too much of the story) Was this a tough journey for you as well as you write?

A: She was very much focussed on bringing her enemy to justice, yes, not only because of what he had done to her and her loved ones, but also for his many crimes against other innocents. This was really eating her up, sometimes causing her to lose her good judgement and making it impossible for her to get on with her life. Some of those scenes were hard to write; I think there’s quite a lot of me in Blackthorn. I felt the wrench with her each time she was halted in her efforts to make it happen, and I also felt the full impact of her unexpected moment of truth in Den of Wolves.

Q:

“Of all my books, I like this [David Copperfield] best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.” –Charles Dickens

Juliet, which is your favourite ‘child’? Why? Or is there a top-secret manuscript that you have been polishing for the umpteenth time? If so, would you share a little of it with us?

A: My favourite child is usually whatever book I am currently working on, or the last one completed. Blackthorn & Grim is definitely my favourite series. Of the earlier books, I am quite fond of Son of the Shadows, with its supporting cast of oddball tattooed warriors. No top secret manuscript, sorry – at least nothing that should ever see the light of day! I could share a snippet from my forthcoming novella, Beautiful, mentioned below.

The year I turned seven Rune came, and my whole life changed. He climbed up the glass mountain with no trouble at all, using his claws. Rune was a bear. If anything in the world was beautiful, he was. His eyes were the blue of a summer sky. His fur was long and soft, with every shade in it from shadow grey to dazzling white. His ears were the shape of flower petals, and his smile … Could a bear smile? It seemed to me that this one could, and although his smile was full of sharp teeth, it, too, was beautiful. There was a sadness in it that went deep down. I was at my high window when he came, and as I watched him climb steadily onward, I felt my heart turn over with wonder.

 

I love all your books, Juliet, but one in particular haunted me to this day, Daughter of the Forest. I couldn’t sleep whilst I was reading it as your words continued to echo in my mind and my heart ached so badly for Sorcha.

It’s interesting how that novel, the one I wrote as therapy rather than for publication, has remained one of the most popular with readers.

Q: What are you working on now? Or what can we look for from you next?

A: 2017 will be the first year I haven’t had a new novel out since Daughter of the Forest was published in 1999. I’m hoping 2018 will see the first in a new fairy tale fantasy trilogy, featuring an older and a younger woman, plus some unquiet spirits. I do have a novella coming out in a collection from Ticonderoga. My story is called Beautiful. It’s an unusual reworking of the fairy tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, about a girl who marries a white bear. I’m hoping that will be published in the first half of 2017.

Q: I have read also that you mentor quite a number of authors. Which upcoming authors/books should we look out for?

A: I only mentor occasionally and usually only one writer at a time. For people who haven’t already read Meg Caddy’s novel Waer, which came out earlier this year from Text Publishing, I highly recommend it for young adult readers. It’s a great combination of well-crafted writing, anwaer interesting story and a completely non-cliched portrayal of werewolves. I was Meg’s mentor when she was still a high school student, and I’m really proud of her success. I’m looking forward to her new novel – I’ve had a sneak peek.

Also, look out for Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer, to be published by Tor in early 2017. It’s a highly original fantasy for adult readers, set in a culture of tree-dwellers, and very rich in its world building. Thoraiya and I are colleagues and close friends despite living on opposite sides of Australia, and I was lucky enough to read an advance copy. Thoraiya is already well respected as a writer of short fiction, but Crossroads of Canopy is her first novel. If you love an intricately constructed world with stunning visual detail, you’ll really enjoy this book.

 

Juliet’s latest book

 

den-of-wolvesDen of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim #3)

Feather bright and feather fine, None shall harm this child of mine…

Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring justice to the man who ruined her life.

Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help the princess of Dalriada in taking care of a troubled young girl who has recently been brought to court, while Grim is sent to the girl’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—repairing a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies…

Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again by each other’s side or to fight their battles alone…

My Blurb

Please note this review is in relation to the third and final book in the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy; if you are interested you may find my review for book 1, Dreamer’s Pool, here and book 2, Tower of Thorns, here.

Juliet Marillier never disappoints –her prose as lyrical and captivating as ever. Her choice of fairy tale is obscure interestingly dark, if not intriguing, yet woven through them are patches of light/goodness. I very much appreciate Marillier’s tendency to end her novels with hope because a novel with a hopeless end is something I cannot stand! Thankfully, this finale has been concluded in a rather satisfying way.

Blackthorn & Grim are home but yet trouble is never far away. Cries for help find them and as they cannot stand puzzles, they begin to unravel them strand by strand. In this book, we have a mad old man called Bardan and a strange young girl on the verge of womanhood, Cara. Bardan does not quite seem to know himself except that he has lost a treasure. Cara, on the other hand, seems to have everything, being the only daughter and heir of Wolf Glen. Yet, deep inside them, they know something is not quite the way it should be.

Choices were made, with love, whether for good or bad, with consequences that echoed through time. Some part of this reminds me of The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman which was one of the most heartbreaking book I’ve ever read, especially for me as a young mother. I found the main mystery to be rather predictable or rather, I worked out who’s who in relation to the fairytale and had a rough idea of how but Marillier sort it out in a rather neat way.

I was rather frustrated with the end book 2, Tower of Thorns; of Blackthorn’s thick-headedness (didn’t you?!?!). And yet, with all the angst in this book, I felt totally weird and awkward about it… which is I supposed how they felt about it! A masterly touch for romance… There’s hope for all us awkwards 😉

Den of Wolves is like a bird’s nest… What seemed to be a mess of sticks bunched together from afar but up close, you can see those sticks intertwined in meticulous care and formed a safe & loving home. That is just how Juliet Marillier has concluded this trilogy of Blackthorn & Grim! I still do have hope for more 😉

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review and for organising the interview. Juliet, my deepest thanks for your time and above all, for sharing your words and wisdom.

Review: Tower of Thorns

tower of thornsTower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Please note this is a review of Book 2 in Blackthorn & Grim series.  You may wish to read review for Book 1 instead, Dreamer’s Pool.

Aaah… I can’t believe that it’s here and that I’ve finished reading it. One of my most anticipated release this year and I don’t particularly want to move on just yet. It has been a wonderful immersion into a fantastical world full of magic, mystery, and of course, true love. Why would you not want to read it??

Blackthorn and Grim weren’t like the usual pairings. They were bound by a deep understanding that could only be reached when you have suffered terribly together; a need to cling together in order to survive each day, weathering the storms of bad memories. Blackthorn is prickly as her name and Grim, despite his visage, is a very patient one. As such, they complement each other and their interactions entertain me so much. They feel so real that I have all my heart invested in these two. If you’ve read Dreamer’s Pool then you’d read that what their relationship is platonic and whilst I did hope for some romance, I was fairly content with status quo as this relationship was just so unique. In Tower of Thorns, we get to see this relationship deepened as their bond was tested by the past coming to the present.

The fairy tale spin of this instalment was both beautiful and horrific. The novel begins with Geiléis setting the scene of the curse and her preparation to break it. Immediately, I was filled with a delicious tension which was maintained right to the very end. The sad tale of the curse was told a little bit at a time in an enigmatic way to make you wonder how exactly this will turn out.

’Can true love triumph over the odds? The only answer I have for that is sometimes yes and sometimes no.’

Let me just say that I was surprised at the ending –it was a heart-pounding climax both lovely and sad. Juliet Marillier is a very talented writer in interweaving historical fiction/fantasy/fairy tale -so meticulous in details and terrific characterisation. This fairy tale is not Disneyfied; in fact, it is rather Brothers-Grimm-like though with that additional dimension / perspective.

I must say, Blackthorn [Marillier] summarised it well herself, at the end of the book:

What happened felt too big to take in. It was a tale of cowardice and courage, intrigue and simple goodness, choices that were complicated mixtures of right and wrong.

Thanks Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of Uncorrected Proof in exchange of honest review

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Review: Dreamer’s Pool

dreamers poolDreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Everything about this book is attractive! The must-read author, the interesting blurb, and beautiful cover… I absolutely HAD to read it. It was a fine read and I quite loved this new world of Marillier’s. As a fan of mystery novels, I am appreciative of the mystery twist woven into a world of fairy tales.

The opening of this novel is somewhat typical to that of fairy tales: a mysterious stranger granting the impossible with conditions followed by a journey. The rest of the story is of a particular mystery but of the “fairy-tale” variety; by this, I mean that the usual trickery of fairy tales written in a similar fashion to that of historical mystery fiction which is fairly unique.

There are 3 perspectives in this story: Blackthorn’s and Grim’s (of whom series is named) then also Oran’s. It’s a little strange that Oran is given his own perspective though this gives the reader that additional dimension in understanding the story. Unfortunately, relative to Blackthorn & Grim, Oran (despite his goodness) is weak. Or maybe I’m just partial to prickly characters ;p

In my point of view, the supposed romance in this book is basically non-existent… this is mostly due to indifference to Oran. Do not read this book for the romance, you’ll be disappointed, but do read it for the tales; the magical & mysterious world. This world isn’t as dark as her other adult fantasy worlds though I still loved it as it was easy to read and enjoy (especially in the middle of the night whilst I’m feeding my newborn!).

Dreamer’s Pool is a fascinating blend of mystery and historical fiction. To me, it somehow resembles Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death with a fairy tale spin to it. If you’ve never read Juliet Marillier’s and are not usually a fantasy reader, this is a good novel to start easing your way into fantasy.

Thanks, Pan MacMillan for paperback copy provided in exchange of honest review

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