Tower of Thorns

Roc: NAL. (Blackthorn & Grim, Bk. 2). Nov. 2015. 432p. ISBN 9780451467010. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698139237. FANTASY
For seven years, healer Blackthorn has abided by an agreement she made with the fae: to aid anyone who asks for her help, stay in the kingdom of Dalriada, and forgo revenge on the man who killed her husband and son. When a noblewoman comes to Prince Oran's court with a story straight out of a fairy tale (complete with a curse and a monster in a tower), and an old friend convinces Blackthorn that this is the perfect chance for her to travel to the border and get her longed-for vengeance, she agrees to go, even if it means lying to her faithful companion Grim. The curse affecting Lady Geiléis's land turns out to be a serious threat, and Blackthorn throws herself into finding a way to end it, even while still planning her escape.
VERDICT This historical fantasy, set in ancient Ireland and imbued with fairies and monsters, builds slowly. Its strength lies in the characters of Blackthorn and Grim, who have developed a bond from their shared pain, even while they continue to keep secrets from each other. Following the pattern set in Dreamer's Pool, there is a mystery for Blackthorn to solve, but the gradual unspooling of the riddle concerning the creature in the tower is secondary to witnessing Blackthorn and Grim struggle with their painful pasts.

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