Anluan has been crippled since childhood, part of a curse that has besieged his family and his home of Whistling Tor. But when the young scribe Caitrin is retained to sort through family documents, she brings about unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows.
But to truly free Anluan’s burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life-and their love…
This is the first book from Juliet Marillier that I have read and will not be the last! I was hesitant to read this book while recovering from an intense book hangover after reading Uprooted. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get into this book with the attention it deserved. It only took about 10 pages and I was hooked.
I have to admit that I was a little biased, as I LOVE a good retelling, and this was a great one. I was very pleased that it was more than just a man with some physical deformation and a great beauty who falls in love with him.
I don’t like to gush to much but I really did love this book. I found the characters so real and lifelike. I just wanted to wrap my arms around them and hold them forever. One of the major selling points of this books for me was the fact that there wasn’t an insta-love connection. Their love slowly built up. And that is a great thing in a story. You can see the characters grow, you laugh when they laugh, and cry when they cry. It takes a great author to reel you into the story so fully that they can make you cry, and I am not sorry to say that I did. A few times really.
My favorite quote: “… in the same scrambling script these words: So bright, so perfect, so alive. You do no belong in this place of shadows. What do you want of me?”
The books starts off with Caitrin running away from an abusive family situation. After a while she finds herself on her way to Whistling Tor to apply for a job as a scribe (a skill she was taught by her now deceased father) to the chieftain on top of the cursed mountain. After a bad first impression she is granted a trail period in which to prove she has what it takes, not only for the monumental job but for surviving at the castle.
You meet Rioghan (a chief Councillor) and Eichri (who is partly a monk) who live up at Whistling Tor. They might not be as funny as Lumiere or Cogsworth but they have a rich appeal all their own. Magnus is another character that plays a huge part. He was the one who ended up raising Anluan; after his mother, than later his father passed away. Magnus does all the tasks around the castle. The cooking, cleaning, gardening, and other everyday chores. Muirne is the next biggest character, but you will have to make your own opinion about her. I didn’t like her from the begining. But that is just me.
Anluan was a great “Beast”. Palsy struck him as a child and left him weak on his right side. He has classic anger issues that you eventually get used to. When a force threats to take his home Anluan must go to extreme measures to find a way to save not only his castle but the loyal people who live there.
The host. The curse. Magic. These things made this book so much more amazing for me. I don’t really want to go to much into this as figuring it out along the way was part of the fun.
Another part of this book that really stood out to me was not just the growing love, but the growing that each character underwent. Not only did Anluan gain hope, but Caitrin gained courage. Courage to go back to her home and face her family and get justice for her mistreatment (small word that doesn’t really capture her angst) and save not only that part of herself but her sister as well.
Hope played a big part in this book (this word is mentioned a lot) and really changes the tone throughout the novel. The big twist towards the end of the book didn’t really surprise me, saw it coming pretty early on, so that was a bummer.
Overall this was an amazing book I couldn’t (and didn’t) put down. I found myself reading slower because I didn’t want the story to end.