In this, the third of the Blackthorn and Grim novels, circumstances threaten to tear them apart. A young girl has been placed under Princess Flidais’ care, needing Blackthorn’s attention. At the same time, the girl’s father hires Grim to help rebuild a home, fallen into disrepair, on his property. It is some distance from his home with Blackthorn, but the money is too good to turn down. It doesn’t take long for Grim to realize that there is more to the job than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, Blackthorn is finally offered an opportunity to help bring the man who imprisoned her to justice. The problem is that in order to make it in time to testify against him, she will have to leave Grim behind. Torn between her desire for justice and her growing love for Grim, who is in danger, she is faced with an impossible decision.
Unlike most series, Marillier wraps up the loose ends with this book. Much as I loved Blackthorn and Grim, I would be content if this is the end of them.
So, on to the second book in the trilogy. Prince Oran and his wife Flidais, who is pregnant, ask Blackthorn to help them to aid a noblewoman who has sought help in ridding her land of a monster. The cries of the monster are nearly driving people mad, and no one can reach the top of the tower where he is because of a hedge of thorns that surrounds the base. Grump as ever, and accompanied by Grim, she agrees to help.
She unlocks the secret of the tower with the help of the fae, but there is no happy ending for anyone in this sad tale. The main attraction is the growing depth of the relationship between Blackthorn and Grim.
I tried to like this book, and it wasn’t bad. It just isn’t my cup of tea. Recommended by a trusted friend, I read it to the end. Lippman’s writing is so good, this wasn’t too difficult a challenge. The problem was the plot. The story of five children, told mostly in flashbacks, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them. It reminded me of The Lake House by Kate Morton, so if you like this sort of thing, you will probably like this.
John D. MacDonald
The first of 21 Travis McGee novels lays down the basic elements of the stories: living on a luxurious houseboat won in a poker game and called The Busted Flush, Travis McGee works when he has to and takes his retirement a bit at a time. His business card reads ‘Salvage Consultant.’ What it doesn’t say is that the salvage consists of getting back treasure that can’t be regained legally, and his fee is half of whatever he brings back. His clients in this first book are the children of an army officer who bought some gems on the black market but died in prison before he would tell where he hid them. While in prison, a fellow prisoner name Junior Allen winkles the info out of him.
At the request of a friend, Travis agrees to help recover the gems from Junior, who is a nasty piece of work. Along the way, Travis meets the broken women Junior leaves behind, and feels perfectly justified in stealing from a thief.
Travis is a delightful character with a strong sense of honor that never wavers. As he says, he may bend his principals, but never breaks them. He is a modern-day Robin Hood, and the stories about him are very enjoyable. This book was originally written in 1965 and stands up very well to the passing years.