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Dreamer’s Pool

January 13, 2020

For almost a month I had a busy, happy house full of people who got along and had good times together.

We drove to Chicago to meet up with my brother and his family for what they quickly began to call our One Day Only appearance. We did two selected parts of the Arts Institute and then met them for lunch and a trip through two selected parts of the Field Museum. After that, we had time for a quick game of hotel room telephone pictionary, a pre-theater dinner, and the musical Mean Girls, which was lots of fun despite being one of those stage musicals made after a movie. It starred the “Greenpeace girl” from the StarKids’ The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, and she was great. The actress who played Karen didn’t come back after intermission, and although the cast gamely referred to her replacement as “new Karen,” she wasn’t quite as funny.

We made it back from Chicago without too much trouble from the bit of snow that was falling, and had our New Year’s Day celebration with black-eyed pea dip and themed movies (our theme this year was “legal movies”). We fixed dinner for Walker’s girlfriend and her mother on one night of their trip across the country to get her car out to California, where she has a job and will be sharing an apartment with Walker. We all went to the movie theater to see Little Women. We even played a family game of D&D designed by Eleanor, who made it a kind of wonderfully Willy Wonka-themed episode.

I was reading the Blackthorn and Grim books, by Juliet Marillier, while all this was going on. I had the first one, Dreamer’s Pool, with me in Chicago, read the second one, Tower of Thorns, the week of New Year’s, and had the third one, Den of Wolves, to console me after Eleanor and Walker flew home.

In Dreamer’s Pool we meet Blackthorn and Grim, who take turns telling the story. They’ve been freed from unjust imprisonment by the supernatural powers of a man they don’t trust because, as Grim puts it, “Heard too many tales about fey gifts and fey promises and how they turn a man’s life upside down.” They travel to a distant country and their journey makes me think of the countryside between where we live in Ohio and where countryside seems to end south of Chicago, around Merrillville, Indiana: “Lonelier country here in the north, mountains and lakes and dark forests. Not so many farms and not so many folk on the road.”

In the first novel we get a search for justice mixed with a love story, a fairy tale, and efforts to heal, which is Blackthorn’s business, as a healer. We get her story and see how she is beginning to recover, with the help of Grim and the fey man that freed them. We see how she and Grim help each other, sometimes making tea, which they call a “brew” from the different leaves and herbs they put in it, and sometimes calling each other back from the brink because “sometimes, when the past catches up, you just can’t stop yourself.”

In the second novel, Tower of Thorns, we get Grim’s story, along with another love story and fairy tale. Grim and Blackthorn help solve a mystery and undo a curse, even though Blackthorn knows going in that “only a fool uses human means to combat the uncanny.” Even though she feels unequal to the task, Blackthorn tries to live up to her own ideals of what a hero should be, and Grim tells her that this is enough, saying “Folk like a story to finish well. Doesn’t matter if that’s true to life or not. Helps to hear about folk being content. About good folk getting what they deserve. While you’re listening you can believe, for a bit, that you’re good too.”

In the third novel, Den of Wolves, Blackthorn and Grim are separated by their adventures but put their heads together to solve a mystery involving a union of human and fey. They finally see justice done to the one who had them unfairly imprisoned. By the end, they admit to themselves how much they’ve come to depend on each other. I was sad to finish this book, and sad that there are no more in the series.

Now it’s January in Ohio, gray and chilly. I usually have a trip planned to relieve the gloom, but not this year, as I have trips coming up in March and April and lots of lonely work—writing—due by the end of February. It makes me sad to have to be in Ohio for all of January and February with no prospect of escape. Except in fiction.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2020 2:55 pm

    Your busy month of a full and happy house sounds lovely. And you got to read some good books too. I hope January and February end up being good, productive months with lots of fictional escapes to make you forget about the cold and gray outside.

    • January 13, 2020 5:05 pm

      I wish I could forget, but the cold seeps into the house no matter what I wear or how I heat it. And the gray outside seems to color everything except when there’s white from snow, and then I can’t go out because I can’t walk on snow or ice at all anymore. The cats and I lie around and sulk.

  2. January 13, 2020 6:31 pm

    Your month sounds wonderful. I’m looking forward to seeing Little Women on Wednesday.

    • January 15, 2020 10:25 am

      It was wonderful–nobody got sick and it didn’t snow so much that we couldn’t go out of the house. Kind of perfect.

  3. Rohan Maitzen permalink
    January 13, 2020 7:25 pm

    I’m sorry January looks so grim. It’s no picnic here either; the one improvement over last year is that I’m finally clear of having to ferry any kids to school and back (or anywhere else, mostly), which has always been an extra source of stress in snowy weather. I can walk to work myself, if I prefer. But it’s still winter — escaping through fiction is still the main coping strategy.

    I didn’t love the new Little Women! I found it a bit to tricksy, especially the ending. Beautifully shot and acted, though. Did you like it? (Did we already discuss this on Twitter? If so, sorry! There have been so many discussions of LW I’ve lost track!)

    • January 15, 2020 10:28 am

      I loved it, particularly the juxtaposition of the “umbrella scene” and the scene with Jo in the publisher’s office. I thought it invited the viewer in, kind of the way good satires do.
      We didn’t discuss this on Twitter, but I wrote a post here on Jan. 6.

      • Rohan Maitzen permalink
        January 15, 2020 5:42 pm

        Ah: just the part I didn’t like! I thought it spoiled the moment in a way that was just too arch / clever. (But it was clever, and fitting, in its own way, of course.)

  4. russell1200 permalink
    January 23, 2020 12:25 pm

    Mariah Rose Faith = Greenpeace girl?

    • January 23, 2020 2:09 pm

      Yes! She plays Regina George, and does a great job.

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