Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Juliet Marillier - Flame of Sevenwaters

Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years, she’s returning home, having grown into a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for gentling difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, fearing the shadows of her past. Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish--only to allow their murdered bodies to be found, one by one. When Maeve finds the body of one of the missing men in a remote part of the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign, or lead to a hideous death. If she is successful, Maeve may open the door to a future she has not dared to believe possible...

Comment: Here it is, the sixth installment of he Sevenwaters series by well known author Juliet Marillier. Well, here it is for me, at least, I know it was released way before.

This is the story of Maeve, sister to the heroines of the previous two books. Those who have read the books know she is the sister who was hurt over an accident with fire, and that Maeve was sent to her aunt Liadan where she has been living for the last ten years in order to heal her injuries.
Now Maeve has to return with a task her uncle Bran requested of her. This will prove if Maeve has what it takes to take her life back and if she dares to be happy in the place where she was hurt the most. Despite her appearance, can Maeve be loved and cherished too?

Well, this story was as powerful and as full of details as all the others. In a way, I think it was a level more intense in terms of story development than the others, it was as emotional but I'm afraid the romance was a bit more lacking and I'm sure, again, that anyone who read knows why. I won't be going into spoilers but let me just say that it's hard to develop a solid romance as we imagine a love story to be if one of the elements isn't very available to... be rational about it. (I'm laughing like I know a secret right now)
All aspects considered the book was a true trademark of the author, with all the expected elements to work both as fiction and as fantasy. The best part of things is how any character has such human emotions and traits, it's difficult not to imagine ourselves in their positions.

In this book, Maeve has to be brave and be part of her family again, although most of the book is full with her thoughts of not being pretty or likable enough and how she wished she could be someone a man could love. But at the same time she mocks the feelings she has, the idea that she should be different because she accepts her injuries and her physical aspect as part of herself and of what she is. I had some trouble trying to figure out if I felt empathy towards Maeve for her feelings of inadequacy or a bit anger for her rude behavior at times even if more than earned.
Of course Maeve is the key protagonist of the book and the book is mostly about her journey and how that matches the overall storyline for we finally have the end of an enemy who wanted to reach a goal not caring about anything or anyone else.
I liked the story and all the little details that once linked made it possible for the end to be reached the way it was.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Juliet Marillier's story if we didn't have some heartbreak. I'll be honest, it wasn't so about Maeve's hardships or knowing some beloved characters' fate and lives...it was really about the end, the last page, where we see a scene that almost broke my heart. It's really complicated to deal with those emotions of seeing yourself doing the sacrifices, even for good and noble reasons. It was hard and it's still surprising to me that, after so many years reading fiction and romance, how easily I can feel touched by what I read and how much talent a writer has to write things that drive readers to test their own emotions. Is it good? Is it normal? Can't really answer but I hope this feedback won't disappear ever...Prepare to feel emotion with this book, for sure.

There's a surprise I didn't see coming by the end of the book. I think the outcome was a bit rushed and not very believable but I'll put that into the fantasy side of the story and that's it.
I liked the importance given to small things, to special details and traditions. The author tries to honor the rituals and the knowledge of those times, of an era and a place divided between old faiths and the rise of Christianism. Although faith and religion aren't a part of the books we still see its influence in the story's development.

I think the author is very, very talented and so far her books have charmed and delighted me, even though they make me cry a bit too.
This story is one of her best, even with the not so good elements, in my opinion.
But overall, it's good and for me, winning reading.
Grade: 8/10

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