Review: Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier

Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier

Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier (Blackthorn and Grim #3)

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale Inspired

Publisher: Roc on November 1, 2016

Source: Publisher

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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…

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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!

Have you read the Blackthorn & Grim series? What’s your favourite fairy tale inspired book? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Hooray! I also loved this. Blackthorn and Grim being separated for most of this book was initially a concern for me as well, but as they say, absence only makes the heart grow fonder. One of my favorite series ever!

    • Juliet Marillier can do no wrong in my eyes! Den of Wolves was seriously all that I could have hoped for…and that ending. *happy sigh* Definitely one of my favourite series, too.

  • Reading your review is spurring me to finally start this series! I hope to read the whole thing next year. I know I have copies of the first two books so hopefully that will give me a good reason to start:-)

    • Eeeee, yay! The entire trilogy is beautifully written and very emotional, so I think it’d make a compelling binge read. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Blackthorn and Grim, Tammy!

  • Yaaaaaaaaaay, I’m so glad you enjoyed this book! This whole series has been wonderful to read. I’d not read a Marillier book before Dreamer’s Pool, but I think I’ll be binge-reading several of her series soon. I don’t know how Marillier does it! Each character is so well-crafted, and each plot is so intricate and yet perfectly connected with the rest of the story. *happy sigh*

    Wonderful review, Danya!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • OMG ALYSSA. You need to read Daughter of the Forest, it’s soooo freaking good. I’m ashamed that I haven’t read the rest of that series yet, actually. But the first book was equally as good as the Blackthorn & Grim books! The thing that impresses me most about Marillier is her ability to address very dark topics (in DotF, rape is dealt with pretty extensively) and acknowledge their lasting effects. Too may authors use trauma as a convenient plot device and then forget about it altogether, but not Marillier.

      She’s my queen! ????

  • I have read a few of hers, but I always find the, soooo depressing

    • All her books deal with dark topics, that’s for sure! I’ve found that she has an even hand with them though, and there’s always hope at the end of the story. ????

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    I’ve skipped the review to avoid spoilers (I’m still at book 1) but your first paragraph told me everything I needed to know, that the story is still compelling and that the emotions it manages to convey are still strong and engaging.
    I’m beyond delighted… 🙂

    • Ooooh I’m dying to hear your thoughts on Dreamer’s Pool, Maddalena! This series is strong from start to finish, and the character growth throughout the three books is astounding. I hope you love it as much as I do!

  • I haven’t started this series yet so will save this review to read in detail later 🙂 but seeing all the praise and that this series has become a favorite has made it more imperative for me to get on the stick and read it! I like Marillier but she is a little hit or miss for me – I never hate her books but there are definitely some I love and then some I think were just okay but from the increasingly hearty praise for this series as it has proceeded makes me think this is going to be one of her better offerings. Have you read Daughter of the Forest – just wondering, if you have, how you think this compares on a how much you love it scale:).

    • So far I’ve read the Blackthorn & Grim series and Daughter of the Forest (her backlist is long, which I consider a blessing) and I ADORE both. They are completely different beasts though. To be honest with you, DotF was very difficult to read at some points (trigger warning for somewhat graphic sexual assault) but I felt like it had more of an emotional impact on me because of it. I was completely wrecked – in a good way – after finishing it.

      For me, Blackthorn and Grim is more about the characters since we get three books of their POV and Sorcha only narrates DotF, not the rest of the series. They’re both older than the average fantasy protagonists, which I loved, and they’ve got a unique combination of personality traits that I felt made them very original. So I fell in love with the characters more in that series but I love the book DotF more. If that makes sense?

      DON’T MAKE ME COMPARE TWO THINGS BY MY FAVOURITE AUTHOR, STEPH! ????

  • Greg Hill

    That cover is amazing!! I’ve only read part of one Marillier book (one of the Sevenwaters books) and it wasn’t really my thing but this series looks much more appealing to me. And while I don’t usually like the characters split up either I can see where it’s crucial to the plot here. Plus I like the sound of the fae influences and the desire for revenge mixed with other obligations. I may have to get these.

    • Some people didn’t like this cover, but I agree – so pretty! The pink and purple together is just gorgeous.

      I think a lot of people who had trouble with Sevenwaters will enjoy this series, as it’s more plot-driven and you get more time to connect to the characters. Plus, Blackthorn and Grim are both much older than the Sevenwaters narrators, which gives them a really different perspective. I hope you have the chance to pick up Dreamer’s Pool soon, Greg!

  • Maraia

    I’m so glad you loved this, too! Are you sure the series is really over? I’ve heard rumors that it’s going to continue. *crosses fingers* I really love Blackthorn and Grim, and I’m not ready to say goodbye. Daughter of the Forest is definitely my favorite book inspired by a fairy tale.

    • Absolutely one hundo p loved it, haha. I’m not sure it’s done, as I know that Marillier has said she has more stories to tell about them, but I haven’t heard anything yet about the series being extended so I’m guessing that decision will be based on sales. *prays to bookish gods*

      So much love for Daughter of the Forest! One of my reading goals for this year is to finally continue reading the Sevenwaters books, and I can’t wait to dive into Son of Shadows. I’ve heard very good things!

  • Lynn Williams

    So glad you enjoyed this – I’ve not fully read your review as I have No.2 and this one to catch up with. Five stars though!
    I don’t know why but I thought there were going to be more in the series – perhaps 4 or 5 – don’t know where I got that from. Must be wishful thinking.
    Lynn 😀

    • Oh yeah, the whole series got five stars from me — easily! There’s definitely been some rumblings about more books being added to the series, but so far as I know Marillier’s contract is only for 3 books and it *may* be extended…but sadly I haven’t heard anyone confirm that more books will be added.

      Wishful thinking indeed! Maybe if we wish hard enough we can get a few more. ????

  • I don’t know this series, but it sounds like an amazing read — I like what you said about the author making the splitting of the characters work well for the plot. Too often it can make a book worse.

    • Yes, this series is absolutely amazing! Juliet Marillier is such an accomplished writer, and she has an incredible affinity for including aspects of Celtic fairy tales and fae lore into her stories. I’d trust her with anything, at this point!

  • I enjoyed this series throughout, though never as much as the first book”s promise. Great review.

    • Nathan! You’re back! ????

      I remember that you were one of the people who first got me reading this series, so I can’t thank you enough for that. Marillier is a definite favourite now!

      • =) That thrills me. And I will try not to be a stranger. A year hiatus is long enough, I miss the scene!

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I love this series. This last book may not be my absolute favorite of the three, but still wonderful

  • I’ve had my eye on this series for quite some time but having not read anything by Marillier before I keep thinking I should read her Sevenwaters series first. This series sure does sound excellent though! Great review. 🙂

    • Oooh that’s a tough call! I really loved Daughter of the Forest, the first Sevenwaters book, but I haven’t continued on with the series.

      If you want a more plot-driven series that follows the same characters throughout and focuses on more mature characters (i.e. in their middle age) then Blackthorn & Grim is your best bet. But if you want a magical, emotional reading experience, Daughter of the Forest is the stronger of the two in my opinion. Can’t wait to hear what you think of Marillier!

      • Good to know! I think I might just put both on my TBR and whatever happens, happens. lol

  • I just started collecting this series and need book two out of the three, and then I’m all in this. You review is gorgeous and making me wish I had them all to read now.