I absolutely loved this book. Like the original Sevenwaters trilogy that she wrote, Juliet Marillier has developed a completely complex, original, and captivating story line. You are pulled into her world with such ease. You can see, hear, and get the feel of the environment in a way that only a master story teller can do. You feel for every character, cheer for their triumphs, and cry for their losses. The story unfolds and you find yourself wanting to read ahead to make sure it all turns out well in the end, no matter the trials in between – and such trials! Oh the difficulties and obstacles!
The story follows a young woman fleeing from her abusive home and landing in a strange, conflicted place. Her influence starts to stir small but mighty changes in the castle, bringing hope, light, and love where only darkness prevailed. Throughout the story your emotions are caught and heartstrings pulled with the strong emotions expressed by Caitrin and the other prominent characters of the story. It is a story of love and loss, the power hope, the incredible strength of courage and faith, and the utter despair of revenge. Acceptance of differences is also a prime theme throughout the story, which I found to be a wonderful aspect because you do not see it enough. Not just the overcoming of physical difficulties, but of each others natures. I do not want to spoil anything, so I will not delve into that particular topic further, but trust me it is fantastically done and also in a way that is not blatantly pointed out. There is a love story woven in as well, but it is definitely not the main focus. It is subtle, but also powerful, shifting in and out of the story with amazing ease.
I cannot say enough about this book. It is one I will return to over and over, the story so strong and memorable. For anyone getting into sci-fi & fantasy, this is an extraordinary book by an amazing author. Even if you are not normally a fantasy reader, but want a really in-depth, complex, and fascinating story line, this is a great book to reach for. I would recommend it to anyone.