I can sum up the best thing about this book in just one word: Grim. He is almost all of my favorite hero tropes, rolled into one man. Tortured. Gentle giant. Devoted to a heroine who he thinks he is not good enough for. Loyal. Steadfast. Good… except when it’s time to drop the smackdown. That’s not to say that I don’t like the heroine. I do. Blackthorn is incredibly empathetic in all of her anger, confusion and lack of social skills. For goodness sake, she has been through the worst kind of hell. But Grim is the soft gooey center of this book.
So if you aren’t familiar with this series, Blackthorn and Grim are an unlikely pair of survivors who escaped from prison together with the help of an elf determined to turn Blackthorn’s life around. To keep her freedom, she must serve as a healer and help those in need, forsaking her revenge against the king who killed her family –for the next seven years. Grim has nothing to do with that deal, but in their time together in that hellish prison, he felt her presence kept him alive. Now, he is her protector, her unwavering champion for the duration.
Anyway, this book takes our pair away from their new home as a strange woman shows up and asks for help in her nearby village. There is a creature who lives there, in a castle surrounded by thorns. His mournful cry drives all who hear it to despair. And only a wise woman like Blackthorn may be able to break the curse and end the monster’s suffering. This, as a face from her past re-emerges, making her question her ability to keep her promise to table her vengeance.
As with the first book, there is a third voice peppered in with the Grim and Blackthorn POVs. In this case it’s Geileis, the woman who has drafted Blackthorn for help. It’s through her eyes and backstory that the truth of the imprisoned creature unfolds. Much like the mystery of the last book, there’s not much in the way of surprises. This is more of a vehicle to advance what’s happening with our main characters. It highlights Blackthorn’s determination and skill, while we see her struggling with her ultimate goals. And it sets up Grim’s circumstances to reveal a pivotal moment in his history.
I loved getting a glimpse into Grim’s past. I love how he sees things, how he values people who have shown him kindness. I love the reverence he shows the things and the people who matter to him. I know Blackthorn isn’t as simple and she has reasons for her internal conflict, but she almost lost me when she contemplated leaving this man behind. It was bad enough in the last book, but here, she should know better. And the tears at the end… I loved it. I love Grim, dammit.
The pace in these books can be a little slow at times. And it’s low on thrills… and even lower on sex and romance. But there is good storytelling and character development. I will be back for book three.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Tower of Thorns
by Juliet Marillier
Release Date: November 3, 2015