Sunday, February 05, 2017

Review: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Author:  Elle Katharine White
Publisher:  Harper Voyager, January 17, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  US$15.99  (print); US$9.99 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780062451941 (print); 9780062451958 (eBook)

A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

Melanie's Thoughts

Elle Katharine White's debut novel, Heartstone, can only be described as an homage to Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. In place of Elizabeth Bennett Aliza Bentaine fulfills the role of the forthright and adventurous heroine. Initially excited about the dragon Riders arriving in Merybourne to slay a horde of gryphons that murdered her young sister Aliza isn't best pleased to spend time in the company of the haughty dragonrider Alastair Daired. In true Pride and Prejudice fashion Alastair sticks his upper crust nose up at the much lower class Aliza. His obvious disdain for her lack of 'connections' is short lived however, when a evil force threatens not just Aliza but the kingdom as well. Will true love prevail?

I am a huge fan of Jane Austin and have read all of her books. I especially love the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with the well cast Colin Firth in the role of Mr. Darcy. I have to admit I am always a bit dubious about novels that try to re-tell this classic. I liked but did not love White's version in the form of Heartstone. Rather than adapting Austin's original in a fantasy setting complete with dragons and hobgoblins White rather slavishly followed the plot and merely modified the names (i.e. Aliza instead of Lizzie). This shouldn't be considered criticism but rather 'critique'. I thought that Heartstone was a welcome relief from the news and some of the other options on my TBR. I will be interested to see whether White can follow this debut with a truly original tale. For fans of Austin and dragons then please give this a read.


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