So, Heart’s Blood is one that the Internet recommended to me. It was appearing on my Amazon.com, my Barnes&Nobles.com, and in my GoodReads feed. It even showed up in my Borders.com feed before they went out of business.

Yet I was still skeptical about it, even though it’s a retelling of my favorite Faerie Tale (“Beauty and the Beast”) and despite how much I’d enjoyed Daughter of the Forest and Wildwood Dancing. The cover, the title font, and even the title itself all pointed to it being solidly in the YA genre, which has been disappointing me as of late.

But then, my library had Heart’s Blood on the shelf while I was browsing, and I was in need of something new to read, so I picked it up.

The story sucked me in immediately! I loved the atmosphere of the Keep on the Whistling Tor, with its mists and shadows and whispers. It’s creepy and mysterious and absolutely beautiful at the same time. The characters are fun too – each one has his own unique personality, and that personality actively affects the other characters around him.

The main character, Caitrin, is especially fun to read. She bears little resemblance to Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest or Jena from Wildwood Dancing; she’s her own person. It’s nice to see a single author be able to create such unique characters, since, very often, all the characters begin to take on the same characteristics, even if they belong to different novels (like Mercedes Lackey’s plucky, spirited heroines).

What intrigued me most, was how Marillier had Caitrin deal with her fears. She faces them, but never becomes immune to them. So often, it seems like, once a character confronts a fear, they are able to deal with it fairly easily from then on. Not so with Caitrin – she faces her fears down, but is usually shaken and sick after, or needs someone else’s help to do so. This strikes me as making her even more courageous, since it’s easy to face something you’ve already conquered, not so much when you’re still fighting it.

My only complaint would be that the main villain is so hostile throughout the story, that I figured out that it was the main villain way before I was supposed to. The plot twists were still fun and exciting, but the “big shocker” at the end lacked any real teeth since I’d seen it coming for a while.

Anyways, I really like this book and I plan on buying it – possibly new instead of used!

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