Den of wolves by Juliet Marillier

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A Blackthorn and Grim novel. Macmillan, 2016. ISBN 9781743535738
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Fantasy. Another stunning read from Juliet Marillier is sure to delight fans and new readers alike. Blackthorn has been asked to help Lady Flidais look after a young woman, Cara, who has been sent to her by her father. Meanwhile Grim has been given the task of working with Bardan, a wild strange man, to rebuild a heartwood house deep in the forest belonging to Cara's father. Both soon realise that all is not well. Blackthorn's past begins to catch up with her when her old enemy Mathuin attacks the holdings of Lady Flidais' parents and it is difficult for her to remember that she has taken a vow to seek no vengeance. Grim is troubled by the way that Bardan is treated and suspects that there are many secrets being kept at Wolf Glen. Grim and Blackthorn both have to make a heart wrenching choice: to stand together or to fight their battles alone. And what they decide could really influence the fate and happiness of the young woman, Cara.
Told in alternating chapters by Blackthorn and Grim, each story builds up suspense as a sense of doom spreads. For Grim, there is mystery surrounding Bardan's background and where he has been hidden for many years. It is strange that Cara is sent away so soon after his arrival at Wolf Glen, and the reader is left wondering about the significance of the heartwood house, which is made of different woods in a certain order. Blackthorn finds that she misses Grim's patience and solid support when he is away, but knows that both have responsibilities that must be fulfilled. The reader hopes that Blackthorn can keep her bond but it is obviously so very difficult for her to do that as she wrestles with stopping the evil Mathuin or helping Cara and Grim.
With her trade mark mix of fairy tale and historical fantasy, Marillier brings to a very satisfying conclusion the dilemmas that both Blackthorn and Grim face. Their complex relationship also grows in a rewarding and fulfilling way and the reader is left feeling content with the series, but hopeful that they will solve more mysteries together in the future.
This was an outstanding story and I hope that there will be more Blackthorn and Grim adventures in further books.
Pat Pledger