9 Rated Books Book Reviews Giveaways

Book Review & Giveaway: Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Title: Heart’s Blood

Author: Juliet Marillier

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Roc (US) / Tor (UK)
Publication Date: November 2009 (US) / October 2009 (UK)
Hardcover: 416 pages (US) / 560 pages (UK)

How did I get this book: Review Copy from Publisher

Why did I read this book: It’s no secret that I love Juliet Marillier. Her Sevenwaters books are among my all time favorites – I’ve even got Ana into them. I’ve also loved her young adult novels, Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret, so when I heard about Heart’s Blood I was literally salivating.

Summary: (from Juliet Marillier.com)
A haunted forest. A cursed castle. A girl running from her past and a man who’s more than he seems to be. A tale of love, betrayal and redemption…

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of 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; the woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

And yet the derelict fortress is a safe haven for Caitrin, the troubled young scribe who is fleeing her own demons. Despite Anluan’s tempers and the mysterious secrets housed in the dark corridors, this long-feared place provides the refuge she so desperately needs.

As time passes, Caitrin learns there is more to the broken young man and his unusual household than she realised. It may be only through her love and determination that the curse can be lifted and Anluan and his people set free…

Review:

On a cold misty evening, a fair young girl travels a lonely road. Caitrin, beloved daughter and sister, runs away from a home that has become cold and spiteful since her father’s death and her sister’s elopement. At the hands of her cruel kinsmen, Caitrin becomes a husk of who she used to be, constantly terrified and powerless under their abusive blows – both verbal and physical. So, she gathers her father’s old writing tools and flees, in hopes of finding a distant relative, or work to support herself as a fully trained scribe. After hard traveling, she ends up on a wagon that takes her as far as Whistling Tor, a secluded, mist-shrouded village that holds many secrets. Taking rest in the village inn for a night, Caitrin overhears that the local Lord has need of a scribe – someone who can read and translate Latin, and organize old documents.

Though Caitrin hears the rumors of ghosts that plague Whistling Tor and tales about the creatures that lurk in the castle’s mists, she gathers her resolve and presents herself for the job. It is then that she discovers the extent of the curse that lays upon the chieftans of the Tor, and the heavy burden that rests on the current lord’s, Anluan’s, shoulders. As the weeks pass, Caitrin comes to understand and love the Tor and its inhabitants and will lend all of her hope, determination and strength to break the enchantment.

Heart’s Blood is easily one of my most highly anticipated books of 2009 – and with such high anticipation comes a directly proportional increase in the possibility for disappointment. But, as always seems to be the case with the esteemed Ms. Marillier, I was not disappointed – Heart’s Blood is a truly gorgeous, winsome book from beginning to end, and another book on the shortlist for favorite reads this year.

One of the things I love the most about Ms. Marillier is her ability to weave magic, mythology and folklore into every sentence on the page, and this latest novel is no exception. Heart’s Blood takes place in twelfth century Ireland, on the precipice of the Norman Invasion. Though I don’t know much at all about Irish history, Ms. Marillier manages to bring this medieval setting to life with the customs, language, and even the laws of the time, painting a vibrant, luscious and wholly convincing portrait of the period. There is magic too in Heart’s Blood, as Whistling Tor falls on a century of hardship. This is a different type of magic than the meddlesome Fair Folk of Sevenwaters or the gods of Piscul Draculi, though; in Heart’s Blood, the enchantment is rooted in human sorcery, in unrest and suffering. The atmosphere is distinct, different from the previous books in Ms. Marillier’s repertoire, and I genuinely loved the variation. There is a palpable danger in Heart’s Blood, a threat of nearly overwhelming hopelessness and darkness – but balanced with the endearing characters and beauty of the overarching story, it’s a bearable darkness.

Similar to Daughter of the Forest and Wildwood Dancing, Heart’s Blood is also a retelling of a classic tale; in this case, it’s a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, with the disfigured and misunderstood chieftan Anluan, and the brave, fair Caitrin, determined to rescue her prince. As with her previous books based on fables (The Seven Swans, The Twelve Dancing Princesses), Ms. Marillier not only takes a familiar tale and retells it, but she reconstructs the fable in its entirety. In the exquisitely plotted Heart’s Blood, the curse that lies upon Whistling Tor has its roots in human treachery, with a power-hungry, cold-hearted chieftan who would stop at nothing to amass an army to seize power – defying even the boundaries of death. But something went wrong with the enchantment, and has since plagued his descendants. Ms. Marillier’s plotting is as deft as ever, intricately weaving old curses with new doubts, mingling Anluan’s insecurities and fears with Caitrin’s troubled past, but keeping the promise of unrelenting hope for the future of these characters.

For, what is a Juliet Marillier novel without a devastating romance?

Heart’s Blood is one of the best, with all its angst and sweetness. Caitrin is another strong addition to the ranks of Awesomest Heroines Ever (many of which are from Ms. Marillier’s books). Caitrin is hopeful, even in the darkest of hours, but she is never saccharine sweet or unrealistic. Caitrin, for all her belief in her friends at the Tor and for all her faith in Anluan as a leader stumbles when it comes to facing her own demons, but gradually is able to discover that she has strength enough for herself too. Her wit, her tenacity, her admirable bravery – these are all qualities that Caitrin has in abundance, making her a heroine worth fighting for. And then, of course, there’s Anluan, the “beast” himself. Suffering from a palsy at a young age, Anluan’s body is not strong and hale – though he can walk and speak, his right side suffers from a severely limited range of motion and partial paralysis – and his uneven features have caused the villagers in Whistling Tor and outsiders to rumor him as a monster or freak. And Anluan, having lost his mother and father at a very young age, believes that he is not a whole man, much less a deserving leader. But beneath Anluan’s fears and insecurities, he is a strong willed man with an ability to lead his people and love deeply – as he gradually comes to understand. The romance that unfolds between Caitrin and Anluan is delicious, building slowly over the course of the novel and dramatically coming to fruition just when it needs to. This is a bittersweet romance, and a powerful one. It tugs at the heart-strings, it sweeps you up into its splendor, it gives you the warm fuzzies inside and leaves you smiling like a goon by the end of the book.

In short, I loved it. I fell in love with both Caitrin and Anluan just as they stumbled into love with each other.

I haven’t even mentioned all the other wonderful, detailed characters that fill this book’s pages – the ghostly little girl with her pleas for “baby,” the camaraderie that Rioghan and Eichri give both Caitrin and Anluan, the clever and dependable Magnus…and of course, the mysterious, antagonistic Muirne. Even Whistling Tor with its castle and surrounding woods is a character in its own right – as much as the moors of Wuthering Heights or the gothic landscape of Jane Eyre played in their respective books – with its twisting corridors, mist shrouded hill, and magic mirrors.

Heart’s Blood is a true gem, another beautiful novel from Juliet Marillier. Absolutely recommended, for old and new readers alike.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:

At a place where two tracks met, the carter brought his horse to a sudden halt.

‘This is where you get down,’ he said.

Dusk was falling, and mist was closing in over a landscape curiously devoid of features. Apart from low clumps of grass, all I could see nearby was an ancient marker stone whose inscription was obscured by a coat of creeping mosses. Every part of me ached with weariness. ‘This is not even a settlement!’ I protested. ‘It’s – it’s nowhere!’
‘This is as far west as your money takes you,’ the man said flatly. ‘Wasn’t that the agreement? It’s late. I won’t linger in these parts after nightfall.’

I sat frozen. He couldn’t really be going to leave me in this godforsaken spot, could he?

‘You could come on with me.’ The man’s tone had changed. ‘I’ve got a roof, supper, a comfortable bed. For a pretty little thing like you, there’s other ways of paying.’ He set a heavy hand on my shoulder, making me shrink away, my heart hammering. I scrambled down from the cart and seized my bag and writing box from the back before the fellow could drive off and leave me with nothing.

‘Sure you won’t change your mind?’ he asked, eyeing me up and down as if I were a prime cut of beef.

‘Quite sure,’ I said shakily, shocked that I had been too full of my woes to notice that look in his eye earlier, when there were other passengers on the cart. ‘What is this place? Is there a settlement close by?’

‘If you can call it that.’ He jerked his head in the general direction of the marker. ‘Don’t know if you’ll find shelter. They’ve a habit of huddling behind locked doors at night around here, and with good reason. I’m not talking about troops of armed Normans on the road, you understand, but … something else. You’d far better come home with me. I’d look after you.’

I slung my bundle over my shoulder. On the tip of my tongue was the retort he deserved: I’m not so desperate, but I was not quite brave enough to say it. Besides, with only four coppers left and the very real possibility that pursuit was close behind me, I might soon be reduced to accepting offers of this kind or starving. It had taken all my courage to run away. After three days I was finding life on the road more difficult than I’d anticipated.

I turned my back on the carter and stooped to examine the weathered stone. The inscription read Whistling Tor. An odd name. If there was a hill nearby, there was no telling where. The vapour was thickening so fast that I could hardly see an arm’s length in front of me. As I traced the moss-crusted letters, the man drove away without another word. The drum of hoof-beats and the creak of wheels diminished to nothing. I took a deep breath and ordered myself to be strong. If there was a sign, there must be a settlement and shelter.

You can read the full excerpt HERE.

Additional Thoughts: I love the international covers for this book – they’re gorgeous and atmospheric. Check out the Australian cover image below:

The US cover is also relevant to the story and pretty in its own way, but I think international wins this round.

Also, author Juliet Marillier has an essay on her website about Heart’s Blood, her inspirations and the Beauty and the Beast tale. WARNING: The post contains plot spoilers for the book, but it a wonderful read for those who have already read the book or do not mind being spoiled. You can read the essay HERE.

Rating: 9 – Damn Near Perfection

Reading Next: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Giveaway Details:

We are giving away ONE copy of Heart’s Blood (with the US cover pictured above)! The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada, and will run until October 24 at 11:59 pm (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here. Good luck!

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86 Comments

  • Vivian
    October 21, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Sign me up! I absolutely loved her Sevenwaters trilogy and this review makes Heart’s Blood so tempting 🙂

  • Nikki
    October 21, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Lovely review. Count me in!

  • Meghan
    October 21, 2009 at 1:20 am

    I’m so glad to read your review! I have an ARC of this book myself and am very excited to get to it. So, no need to enter me in the giveaway, just wanted to express my excitement!

  • Kimberly B.
    October 21, 2009 at 2:21 am

    I have heard terrific things about Juliet Marillier, and I love fairy tale retellings! I’d love to win a copy!

  • sandyl
    October 21, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Thanks for the review. I can’t wait to read this.

  • msaggie
    October 21, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Thanks for the lovely review. I have read all Juliet Marillier’s books, and am looking forward to this one.

  • RKCharron
    October 21, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Wow.
    That is a great review. I loved the notable excerpts from the first chapter. Thanks for sharing HEART’S BLOOD. I liked the different covers.
    All the best,
    RKCharron
    xoxo

  • Danielle
    October 21, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Beauty and the Beast, you say? Please count me in!

  • Karissa
    October 21, 2009 at 5:56 am

    I lover her Sevenwaters trilogy and am eager to read this book! Thanks for holding the contest 🙂 Please sign me up!

  • Shayna
    October 21, 2009 at 6:00 am

    I am so glad I found this site!
    Almost every book you guys review and read, I have read also.
    Cannot wait for this release,
    Count me in! 😛

  • Simone
    October 21, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Sign me up for this one – it sounds fantastic. If it’s even close to Daughter of the Forest it will be great.

  • Ashley
    October 21, 2009 at 6:03 am

    Sounds like a fantastic book, please enter me!

    a.d.malouin [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Mandy McClanahan
    October 21, 2009 at 6:04 am

    I have been waiting anxiously for this book! I’ve been a fan of Ms. Marillier from the very beginning. The Sevenwaters Trilogy is at the very top of my favorites list.

    Please enter me!

    Mandy

  • Cait
    October 21, 2009 at 6:17 am

    This sounds really good! I always love fairy tale remakes =)

    Please enter me!
    xkamsx(at)gmail(dot)com

  • TJ Mathews
    October 21, 2009 at 6:35 am

    I haven’t read this author. Sounds great!

  • Robyn B
    October 21, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Sounds fantastic. I haven’t read any of Juliet Marilliers’ novels, so please count me in! Thanks 😀

  • janicu
    October 21, 2009 at 7:08 am

    Ooh, Angie from Angieville keeps talking about this author. I REALLY should read her. The score of 9 here is making me think the same. So count me in the giveaway. 🙂

  • Jess
    October 21, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I’d love to be entered. I loved Wildwood Dancing, but I haven’t read any of Marillier’s other books yet!

  • Christine
    October 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

    I would love to be entered. This story sounds JUST up my alley! Thanks to your and Angie’s love of this author, I must read her work. Thanks for the chance!

  • Ellen
    October 21, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I would love a copy! I’m also a big Sevenwaters fan but have been disappointed by some of her more recent books… but this sounds like a good one.

  • Cybercliper
    October 21, 2009 at 7:36 am

    I discovered Juliet Marillier last year on this blog and instantly became a fan! Count me in and Thanks!!!

  • Jenn M.
    October 21, 2009 at 7:48 am

    I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I first saw it reviewed. Count me in please!!

  • Samantha R.
    October 21, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I’m so happy about you review and I can’t wait to read this one! Thanks for the contest!

  • MaryK
    October 21, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I must have this book! B&B retellings are my favorite things to read. I like the UK cover better, though. May have to order from Book Depository.

    All of her Australia covers are pretty awesome. Have you seen Daughter of the Forest?
    http://tinyurl.com/ygfbbjf

  • Jonnie H
    October 21, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Your review really makes me want this book. Please enter me.

  • Amanda
    October 21, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Oh I’d love to win this book! I have such a love/hate relationship with the original Beauty and the Beast (cute story, but he’s such an abusive guy!). Anyway, I’m betting the retelling of the original would put an interesting spin on my perspective.

  • Crystal W.
    October 21, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Sounds Great. Count me in!! 🙂

  • stacy w
    October 21, 2009 at 8:50 am

    this sounds great! and it scored a 9! wow, can’t wait to read it. 😀

  • KMont
    October 21, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for months and have it on reserve at the library – but I’d love a chance to win a copy! This sounds even better than I anticipated. The Beauty and the Beast theme sounds wonderful. In the meantime, I seriously need to read some of Marillier’s other books. Thanks for the contest, ladies. 😉

  • Valerie N
    October 21, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Heart’s Blood sounds great! I would love to win.

  • Cara Powers
    October 21, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I want, I want, I want! Thanks for opening it to US readers. Of course, if I will, I will be compelled to read all the author’s other novels.

  • Emily
    October 21, 2009 at 9:21 am

    I recently read “Daughter of the Forest” and I’ve now also fell l in love with Juliet Marillier. I’d love to enter, and thank you for the contest!

  • Elise
    October 21, 2009 at 9:22 am

    You’ve got me curious about it. Which is maybe bad, as my to-be-read pile is growing progressively larger and larger the more I read this lovely blog.

  • Ethansdad
    October 21, 2009 at 9:34 am

    That UK cover is fantastic, but I’d gladly read it no matter what the cover looked like. Please enter my name as well.

  • Angie
    October 21, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Thea. I am in actual physical pain right now. I have got to read this book. *wrings hands*

    Beautiful review, btw. There’s just nothing like a new Marillier. I cannot wait!

  • Celia
    October 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I’d love to be entered to win this book – a 9!!! Can’t wait. 🙂 Thanks!

    celialarsen(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Alicia
    October 21, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I LOVE Juliet Marillier. She’s a genius. I’d love to get this book, especially since I’m having surgery this weekend and need some good books to read. :o)

  • Teresa W.
    October 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Thanks to for introducing me to another new author, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com

  • melissa @ 1lbr
    October 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

    This is where I fall all over myself begging. I LOVED Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret. I have been drooling over this book since I first heard about it.

  • Maya M.
    October 21, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Based on buzz here and elsewhere, I picked up a Marillier book at the bookstore recently with a wolf of some sort in the title. Still waiting in my nightstand pile, but in the meantime, a 9 rated book is not to be missed!

  • Zee
    October 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Please enter me – I love her work. Great review.

  • Tiffany M
    October 21, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I love stories and novels with the beauty and the beast motif. I have been looking forward to this one. ^^

  • Jen D.
    October 21, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Great review. Thanks for the giveaway.

    Count me in!

    *Jen* :mrgreen:

  • Bridget Locke
    October 21, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Oh, please? It sounds lovely. I’ve never read her stuff. I know!? What’s wrong with me? lol

  • Heather S
    October 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Looks great, please enter me!

  • Rhiannon Hart
    October 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I’m not entering, but I just have to say that this sounds amazing and ooooooh we got a purdy cover down here! Adding to my list now…

  • Kate A
    October 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Great giveaway! Please enter me!

    k8_a_723(at)hotmail(dot)com

  • Adrienne
    October 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Beauty and the beast stories, i’m so there. I will buy any copy that has a retelling…count me in for the give away. If anyone is looking for another good re-telling, Beauty is a great book to read.

  • Linda Henderson
    October 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I would love to win a copy of this book.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  • Amy Kathryn
    October 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I love beauty and the beast stories. I have her other retellings on hold at the library. Please enter me for this one!

  • Helen M.
    October 21, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Nice review. The students in my library would like this one by the sound of it!

  • Rose
    October 21, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Please count me in.

  • Shawna Lewis
    October 21, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    OMG……I’m with you, I really want to read this book!!!! I have been looking forward to it for ALONG LONG time!!!!
    I am almost tempted to get it from the UK but maybe I will be lucky and win it from you!!!
    Lets hope so!!
    Good luck to everyone!!
    Shawna
    weloveourdogs@juno.com

  • Christina G
    October 21, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Please count me in.

  • Nicole Downing
    October 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    LOVE HER! I have been a huge fan since Daughter of the Forest. I can’t wait to read this one!

  • Barbara Elness
    October 21, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    I enjoyed your review – Heart’s Blood sounds like a fantastic story.

  • Emma
    October 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    One of my favorite fairy tales! I can’t wait to read this book 😀

  • Kristen
    October 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Beauty and the Beast is my very favorite fairy tale. This sounds wonderful!

  • Veronica F.
    October 21, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    *gasp* sounds great & now i really want it! lol
    count me in 😛

    iroquois.girl@yahoo.com

  • Michelle M
    October 21, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I love Juliet Marillier to pieces! All her books are simply amazing and since I love beauty and the beast, I am more than a little excited to pick this one up. Thanks for the great review, I’d love to be entered for the contest!

  • Anita Yancey
    October 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Great review. The book looks wonderful, and I’d love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!

    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

  • Sharon K
    October 21, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Wonderful review! Can’t wait to read the book. Please enter me into the contest. Thanks!

  • Katee R
    October 21, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Juliet Marillier is amazing. I have yet to read a book of hers that didn’t blow me away.

  • Connie
    October 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    I love your reviews and your rating system. Count me in.

    bookwormfae(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Sandra M
    October 21, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite authors, ever since I picked up “Daughter of the Forest” on a whim. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Anonymous
    October 22, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Enter me please!

  • Lenore
    October 22, 2009 at 4:42 am

    I have had Juliet Marillier on my wishlist for a long time – I hear such great things about her books.

  • Jaime W
    October 22, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Sounds great. Sign me up! 😛

  • Celia
    October 22, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Sign me up! This book sounds amazing (like everything else by Juliet Marillier).

  • Daelith
    October 22, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Please put my name in the hat for the drawing.

  • CherylS22
    October 22, 2009 at 7:51 am

    This is a new author for me. Thanks for the great review – I’m adding this to my list!

  • Lorraine
    October 22, 2009 at 8:02 am

    please sign me up!
    I ADORE you reviews, they are so helpful and insightful.
    Also, I appreciate all your hard work searching & reading these books-sort of doing the legwork for me and I can just sit back and follow your lead!
    😉

  • Miss Marjie
    October 22, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Those covers are lovely. I like how they look as though they’re in entirely different time periods…

  • MeganS.
    October 22, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Please count me in!

  • Jenny N
    October 22, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Nice review. I’d like to enter to win this book.

  • alana
    October 22, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I’m with everyone. Juliet Marillier is full of win.

  • Morganne W.
    October 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    ooooohhhhhh!!!!! enter me! I want it!!!! I* want it!!!!! :mrgreen:

  • Ava North
    October 22, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I want this. I loved daughter of the forest.

  • Jennygirl
    October 22, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    oh must…have…this…book!
    #79 could be lucky

    Thanks gals.

  • Emily W
    October 22, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I also loved Daughter of the Forrest and would love to win this book!

    Thanks!

  • pixie13
    October 23, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I’d love to win this. Thanks for the chance! 😀

  • Raelena
    October 23, 2009 at 8:31 am

    count me in please

  • Jessiekay
    October 23, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Just started reading her and I’m in AWW. Would love to have this book.

  • Kearsten
    October 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Oooh! Just about to start Heir to Sevenwaters, so count me in!

  • Kay
    October 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Count me in! 😀 I loved the Sevenwaters series (although I haven’t read the last one yet) and can’t wait to read this one!

  • Kate
    October 24, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I want to read this so bad! Please enter me.

    neverendingshelf@gmail.com

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