"This had been real: real in its flaws and uncertainties, real in its small triumphs, real in its compromises and understanding."
--Juliet Marillier, Heart's Blood
Publication Date: October 5th, 2010
Source: Borrowed from Library
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
The SettingWow. Just wow. This book BLEW me away! I had high hopes and high expectations for this book because 1. Juliet Marillier 2. Beauty and the Beast re-telling 3. Beauty and the Beast re-telling. This book lived up to my expectations and so much more. This book sucks you in almost immediately with the setting. We start off on a dusty road and traverse into a forest and come upon a secluded town with an overseer Lord that is steeped in secrecy and if you believe what they say, modern day horrors. Nobody wants to go near the castle because of all the rumors of the Lord being a beast...basically...see what I did there? The world that Marillier creates is breathtaking. The castle, the people residing there, the descriptions of the garden, her work with calligraphy, I ate UP this writing with a spoon. It was just perfect.
The BelleCaitrin is a strong and determined woman which is saying A LOT when think about the time this takes place in. She runs away, as a single woman, from a terrible situation. She fights the only way she knows how and is determined to take care of herself. Along the way she finds not only herself but her voice. I loved that she had a skill that she loved and wanted to work, totally unheard of in this time period. She didn't let anybody push her around, she saw people for who they were, not what they are...or what they used to be... Her understanding and compassion for those around her was admirable and I just loved her as a heroine.
The BeastOk. Anluan was TOTALLY fucking swoony. In a totally non-obvious way which is what I loved even more. He is socially awkward to the extreme. Unsure of himself. Tortured. Physically disabled from a childhood illness that left him with a limp and a fully functioning arm. All of these endeared me to him even more. This was the second book in a row where the hero had a limp and it was so a turn on. I'm such a weirdo, don't ask me why, but maybe it's the vulnerability it shows. Y'all know I love a tortured/vulnerable soul. His quiet demeanor totally and me wanting to faint because when he DOES make a small outreach or compliment to Caitrin, it means so much more. And his growth as a character is beautiful to watch. I loved seeing him come into his own and be confident and strong and take charge. Rawr.
The Gothic HorrorThe everyday life of the castle with its mysteries and paranormal tendencies sweep you off your feet and into this world. What is real? What is fake? IS anything real? Is anything fake? I didn't expect this to have such a large paranormal element but I loved it. The mystery and curse that Caitrin comes upon is creepy and emotional. I'm not usually into the creepy tales but once in a while when it's done right, I'm all about it. It totally worked for this book and this element made so much of the plot for me.
The RomanceOh, the romance! I feel like putting a hand to my chest and just sighing in content. It was SO romantic. Like I said above, Anluan is awkward to a fault so when he would go out of his way to make sure Catirin is okay or do nice things for her or OH when he protects her!! Die. I die. It was just so sigh-inducing and the lengths he goes to ensure her safety and that she's okay. I just want to faint. I love love LOVED their relationship SO HARD! It was perfection in its subtlety and slow burn. Just. Perfect.
The PacingIn hindsight, this isn't a 'Beast.' While I was reading thought it felt like at about the 60-70% the books started to lull a little but it was only while I was in the moment. I wasn't sure where this tangent was gong but it ended up being extremely important and necessary so WHEN you read this, don't let it deter you.