Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale Inspired
Publisher: Roc on November 1, 2016
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Feather bright and feather fine, None shall harm this child of mine…
Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring justice to the man who ruined her life.
Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help the princess of Dalriada in taking care of a troubled young girl who has recently been brought to court, while Grim is sent to the girl’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—repairing a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies…
Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again by each other’s side or to fight their battles alone…
Beautifully written, compelling, and emotionally impactful, Juliet Marillier’s DEN OF WOLVES is a fantastic conclusion to a series that has shot to the top of my “favourites” pile. The journey that Blackthorn and Grim have taken together and the development of their partnership has been a pleasure to read about, and I’m going to miss them dreadfully.
Blackthorn’s work as a wise woman, someone who counsels others on matters medical and emotional using the old ways, is all that’s kept her sane for the last few years. Well, that and Grim, the (usually) gentle giant whose simple exterior hides an exceptional mind and heart who’s long been Blackthorn’s protector and friend. But these two can’t heal and move forward from their horrible pasts until they confront Mathuin of Laois, the Chieftain whose corruption and cruelty led to their imprisonment and the destruction of all that Blackthorn held dear.
The development of Blackthorn’s feelings towards Mathuin throughout the series is masterful: when we were first introduced to her, she had a self-destructive and borderline irrational need for vengeance at any cost, but by DEN OF WOLVES her rage had smoldered to a burning hatred and desire to see justice done. The harsh reality is that Blackthorn will never “get over” all that happened because of Mathuin’s misdeeds, but Marillier makes it clear that brighter days are possible. Redemption from the past and hope for the future are two central themes in the series and nowhere is it more visible than in DEN OF WOLVES.
For much of DEN OF WOLVES, Blackthorn and Grim are separated, which would normally irritate me (splitting up major characters is one of my least favourite plot devices) but it was crucial for the characters – and the plot. Spending significant time apart forces the pair to confront what it is they really mean to one another while also expanding their influence outside of their community in Winterfalls. When Grim is offered a high paying but secretive job as a builder in Wolf Glen, he takes it despite the distance…but soon realizes that the mysterious Heartwood House he’s been contracted to help build is surrounded by a dark past and long-kept secrets. Soon Blackthorn also sees the evidence of strangeness at Wolf Glen in the form of Cara, a young woman whose affinity for the forest and difficulty with speech has made her something of an outcast.
Of course, Grim’s work and Blackthorn’s new acquaintance are connected, and maybe even influenced by Fae magic. The pair must unravel the mystery quickly if they’re to have any hope of preventing disaster and unearthing the truth about both the Heartwood House and Cara. But when faced with an impossible choice between helping a friend and finally seeing justice done for Mathuin’s actions, what will Blackthorn choose?
DEN OF WOLVES was everything I could have asked for from the conclusion to the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy, and while I’m sad to see the series end I’m pleased that it goes out on such a high note. As I mentioned, this series is one of my favourites, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes dark fairy tales like The Bear and the Nightingale. You won’t be disappointed!