Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

 Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #1)
I finally sat myself down and read the book Heartless, the first book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. 
I had heard some people really didn't like this book, and others loved it, so *southern accent* I was prepared.
 The book is about a princess who wants to fall in love in a fantasy world.  But what happens is at first amusing, then disturbing, then dark and thought-provoking.
It brings about a kind of fairy story I have missed.  The kind that is disturbingly honest and yet has a happy ending that turns my thoughts to heaven. 

This book surprised me.  From reading the first few chapters, it seemed it would be a slow but-interesting-enough book like a Jane Austen novel set in a fantasy world.  But then stuff happened and the story drew me in deeper and it got serious.

The main character, Una, wasn't very likeable, but then neither was Mary Lennox from the Secret Garden or Eustace Clarence Scrubb from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (except he was amusing) till later in the story.  She was realistic for a character though.
I didn't like Una because she had no idea what love is beyond it being "romantic" and only claimed to be in love because it was dramatic or sounded good.  It's pretty true about some teenagers though.  Sometimes one wonders "is this love?" and wants to call it that because it's "romantic" when really... it's just a small crush.  And then there's that time when it's a crush times a thousand and you really care about that person and it's not just selfish.  And then it's painful.
But anyway, after that, Una sort of was in love... but even then it felt like she was slightly exaggerating it for the sake of it being dramatic and making her life more interesting.   The character Leonard (he's pretty comical) was written so well he seemed so real.  I personally liked Prince Aethelbald and he's more interesting than some Christ figures I have read in other books.

The writing style was sweet and simple and... elegant in a way, for the most part.
A few tiny things could have been a little clearer/written better.
Also, this book was funny.  That was one of the things that kept me reading through the beginning, because I'm not very good at writing comically yet.
Overall it's very good for a debut novel, and holds some worth in provoking thought about trust and other spoiler-y things that I can't talk about.  I will be reading the next books in the series.

Note: this book isn't for everyone.  If you can't stand romance, fantastical dragons, allegory (I wouldn't call the book allegorical myself because it's not like Animal Farm where everything represents something but it does have a Christ figure in it), and characters who act like real people you may meet sometime in your life, you probably won't like this book. 

Have you read it?  What did you think?