Book Review: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier


The U.S. cover

For it has been many years since she left the place where her hands were crippled by a fire – years in which she has nurtured her special talent with animals.

Sevenwaters is also much changed. It is now enslaved by the fey prince Mac Dara, a force of malignant magic who is responsible for a party of travellers disappearing. When Maeve discovers the body of one of the missing men, she and her brother Finbar are lured to the Otherworld on a journey that may save Sevenwaters… or lead to catastrophe.

If Maeve is ever to dream of a future, she must confront the darkness of her past.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that I don’t love the blurb… This is truly a fantastic novel, and I just don’t think that the blurb does it justice. Personally, if I was unsure of Juliet Marillier, if I didn’t already know that I have loved every single one of her books, I might not have picked this up. As it was, I pre-ordered the American edition, just because I couldn’t didn’t want to wait the extra month for the Australian edition. And I’m glad that I didn’t wait.

Flame of Sevenwaters was everything I expected, and so much more.

Rating: 5 out of 5

As with Marillier’s other novels, the characters in Flame of Sevenwaters are brilliantly developed and depicted. Marillier perfectly captures Maeve – she is a blend of strength and bravery, fear and uncertainty, hope and utter hopelessness. Maeve bears similarities to her sisters, her cousin, her aunt and her grandmother (the previous protagonists in the other novels) in her refusal to be beaten, and in her determination to succeed, against all the odds.

The Australian cover, adapted from an image by J.W. Waterhouse

The Australian cover, adapted from an image by J.W. Waterhouse

Yet Maeve is also a strong individual and she easily stands apart from Marillier’s other protagonists. The very injury that sets Maeve apart, that causes people to think her a cripple, proves to be Maeve’s strength, for her crippled hands have taught her practicality, determination, and bravery in (almost) all circumstances. All of this makes Maeve a wonderful protagonist – the perfect person to help free Sevenwaters from the reign of Mac Dara.

For when Maeve returns to Sevenwaters, she finds that much has changed. They people have begun to fear the Good Folk, those immortal dwellers of the Otherworld who in the past aligned themselves with the family of Sevenwaters. And they fear with good reason. The Otherworld is now ruled by Mac Dara, and he will do anything to trick his son (Maeve’s brother-in-law) into falling into his clutches. Mac Dara’s tricks have brought Sevenwaters to the very edge of war, for two of the travellers who have disappeared within the forest’s boundaries are the sons of a chieftain, and if they are not found soon all hell will break loose.

Soon it becomes clear that it is Maeve, and her strange young brother Finbar, who must do the finding. Accompanied by a motley crew of Old Ones, Good Folk, druids and animals, Maeve and Finbar embark on an accidental adventure that will change everything – for good, or ill.

Flame of Sevenwaters is beautifully, and intricately crafted. As the conclusion of a three-book story arc, this novel does an amazing job of bringing multiple characters and stories together, creating a marvellous tapestry of a novel. I particularly enjoyed the sections of the novel which feature the character Ciarán, the only character to play an important role in all six Sevenwaters novels. As with so much else, Marillier tackles Ciarán’s storyline brilliantly, as we see this character develop in ways many would not have expected. Marillier is a master storyteller and this clear in the construction of this novel. Once I picked it up, I struggled to put it down again, instantly drawn back into the world of Sevenwaters, a world fantastically created by Marillier’s words.

I would strongly recommend this book, as I would recommend most of Marillier’s novels, and definitely the whole Sevenwaters series. Marillier’s writing has changed dramatically since she first published the first Sevenwaters novel, Daughter of the Forest, in 2001. Her early novels do tend to be a bit long-winded, but the stories within them are fantastic nonetheless. If you haven’t already, I would suggest that you pick up a Juliet Marillier novel and allow yourself to be drawn into her worlds. You won’t regret it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fantasy, Ranting, Reading, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Book Review: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

  1. Anne Carmen

    I’ve been a fan since I picked up Wildwood Dancing. I know you won’t post spoilers, but I generally don’t mind them so I’d love it if you’d e-mail me. I was a bit disappointed with Sibeal’s book as far as the love interest was concerned. I really think that the story could have done without it. Please let me know if there’s anything like that in this book, because I’m still on the fence about purchasing it even though I’ve been waiting for Maeve’s book for a long time.

    • I’d agree with you to some extent about Sibeal’s book. The first time I read it, I wasn’t sure whether I had liked it or not. However, I definitely liked it more on second reading! (Maybe the entire romance was a tad unnecessary but I think it did work to some extent… Maybe? – I’ll need to think about this more!)

      Maeve’s book is entirely different. The focus is more upon her relationship with Finbar. I would argue that this relationship is a key aspect of the novel. However, there is still a romantic relationship mentioned within the novel… but it’s definitely more of a slow build. They develop an understanding that in ways reminds me of Red and Sorcha. Much more of a silent connection. The realisation of the romance perhaps was a bit speedy? But I definitely loved the novel! I’d be interested to know what you think if you do get around to reading it. Let me know if you want more info!

      • Anne Carmen

        All right, I’ll give it a go. Thanks! At least I don’t go in with the kind of expectations I had for Sibeal. I have no idea where I got it, but somewhere in my brain was this expectation that for someone so phenomenally linked with the Fair Folk, she’d have a more splendid match. Someone akin to Cathal or even frigging Mac Dara himself would’ve been much more interesting. I guess no one’s harsher than a disappointed fan, huh? For Maeve’s book I’ll just ignore the romance aspect if I don’t like it. I loooooved Red and Sorcha, so fingers crossed! Thanks again! 😉

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