There is no bigger Marillier fan than Moonlight Reader (don't you love it when people talk about themselves in the third person?). My favorite Marillier book remains Daughter of the Forest, the first in her Sevenwaters series, although book 2, Son of the Shadows, is a very close second. I've enjoyed her forays into YA, as well, with Wildwood Dancing - a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale - clocking in as one of my absolute favorite retellings of all time. I love Heart's Blood (retelling of Beauty and the Beast), and I very much enjoyed her Shadowfell series.
The thing I love about her books is always the dreamy worldbuilding with its Celtic overtones. Her writing is viscerally beautiful, with strong visuals and evocative descriptions. I find her characters interesting, multi-dimensional, and the relationships between them compelling.
It's her plots that, for me, sometimes are weak. Don't get me wrong, I will read her books for its strengths without regard to what I see as the occasional plotting issues. But, in my opinion, her plots can be weak.
And Dreamer's Pool is an example of weak plotting, in my opinion. As is often the case, there are fairy tale'ish aspects to the story - in this case, I saw echoes of The Goose Girl. Of the three main characters who received narrative voices, Blackthorn is my favorite - a wise woman, a healer, a hedge witch who has given up using magic. Grim is a physically intimidating hulk of a man, with surprisingly delicate feelings. Both of these characters are broken in different ways, and the development of their friendship and their reliance on each other is touching.
Oran, the third voice, is the local prince. He was the weakest of the three, I thought, and the least compelling. Likeable, his sensibilities are with nature and growing things and beauty, and he is *not like other princes,* or at least so we are told on many occasions. And, in fairness, he does display a sense of justice that is considerable.
The mystery, though, was easily solved by me basically the moment it occurred. And the solution within the book is actually sort of casually horrifying. Marillier does this sometimes - she'll banish a character is a really dismissive way. There is a scene in the third Sevenwaters book where the main character is practicing magic and turns a girl who has been sort of mean to her into a fish. As she stands and watches, a fisherman walks up to the fish, guts it, and carries it away for his frying pan. It's really pretty awful - no matter how mean teenage girls are to their disfavored peers, casually tossing one into the frying pan is the stuff of old-fashioned, blood-thirsty fairy tales that we aren't really accustomed to see in modern literature.
Anyway, overall, this is a relatively weak entry in her catalog. I will continue with the series in the hopes that it goes interesting places, but for readers who are interested in Marillier, this isn't the place to start.