Book Review: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

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About the Book

Title: Heartless

Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Source: Library

Publication Date: July 1st, 2010

Pages: 363

Blurb:The Dragon King Seeks His Princess—
Who Dares to Stop Him?

Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon marry. She dreams of a charming prince, but when her first suitor arrives, he’s not what she’d hoped. Prince Aethelbald of mysterious Farthestshore has travelled a great distance to prove his love–and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be on the hunt and blazing a path of terror.

Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald’s offer–and ignores his cautions with dire consequences. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in his sights. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.

My Review

Oh, where do I begin with this book? IT. WAS. AMAZING. And now I want to read the rest of the series.  NOW.

Okay, okay. I’ll stop and be a little bit more logical now. First of all, this book had a profound effect on me, and I mean that in the least cheesy way possible. Before reading this book, I basically threw away any hope of enjoying a modern fantasy book. The only fantasy books that I was going to read were The LOTR Trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. This stemmed partly from parental bans on some fantasy books and partly from me just not liking fantasy in general.

Reading Heartless changed that. Now I’m ready to give some modern fantasy a chance, as long as it goes by my parents’ rules for reading fantasy. I know I’m definitely going to finish reading The Tales of Goldstone Wood. Not only am I giving reading modern fantasy a chance, but I also want to begin writing it. I have a really good idea and I’m so excited to start writing it.

One thing that I loved in this book was the characters, who were all multidimensional and became completely real in my mind. Each of the characters all had different talents and flaws that made all of them unique. Their differences in personality and motives also caused constant character tension, which kept me on my toes. I never quite knew who to trust and who not to trust. Another important part of the story was that the main character, Una, was relatable and likeable. She’s a strong female character who is quite the girly-girl, but at the same time is strong. Instead of waiting for others to take action for her, she puts things in motion by herself. Aethelbald was also an amazing character. He was relentless, true to his word, courageous and selfless. He was also a lot like Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia.

The plot was another amazing part of the story. There were so many twists and turns that I had no choice but to flip the pages constantly. I also really liked how the suspense was heightened because Anne Elisabeth Stengl used the omniscient narrative. This allowed me to know things that other characters didn’t and I found myself constantly yelling at the characters because I cared for them. The author really knows how to keep the action and the suspense going while still writing beautifully and investing time in her characters.

I also loved how the book explored so many themes without being too preachy or cheesy. Through her narrative, the author deftly woven in the exploration of subtle themes such as trust, undeserved grace, redemption, temptation and true love. These themes kept me thinking without detaching me from the story. It also had many Christian allegorical themes, which I loved. However, it was not shoved in the reader’s face, so non-Christian readers are sure to get a kick out of this book as well.

Overall, this was an awe-inspiring book, and I’m sure the rest of the series will be the same. This is the kind of book you’ll want to read over and over again. It changed my view on modern fantasy, and inspired me to write a fantasy book. And that inspirational drive is a mark of a fantastic book, my friends.

My Rating

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27 thoughts on “Book Review: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

  1. Ooh, this looks like a good one. I’ll have to put it on my TBR list! I don’t usually read fantasy but I might give it a try.

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  2. I’m really glad you liked this Ana! I think I’ve tried a couple that were modern fantasy, but I didn’t really care for them. BUT THIS ONE LOOKS GOOD. I’ll definitely check it out!

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  3. The romance in the blurb kind of turned me away, but your review has me curious. I’m not into religious allegories, but I might give this one a chance. Plus, I like unique and flawed characters.

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    1. Honestly, I hate romance in books, and I was a little bit hesitant about this book, but I heard that it was really good, so I decided to give it a try. The romance was really clean and the story was about so much more than that. Even though it’s an allegory, it’s not preachy and I’ve heard the rest of the stories in the series are not allegories. Yep, unique and flawed characters are really enjoyable to read about.

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  4. Awk. I WANT. I’ve heard of this one but not actually read a review on it…the MC sounds amazing. And the Mc is actually girly-girly?! YESssss. I feel like there’s so many stoic characters in books and I’m always up for some lighter ones too. *nods* Plus dragons. 😄 Love dragons.
    I want to read more fantasy this year, actually, so I wonder if my library has it…

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    1. You need to read Heartless. I’ve made it my goal to read more fantasy this year, and this was a good starting point. There definitely is a need for more light-hearted characters. I love how Una is kind of a girly-girl, but still really strong. It shows that just because someone is girly doesn’t mean that they aren’t strong. Also, dragons are the best.

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