Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

By Elle Katharine White 
Read: January 12 - 15, 2017
Published: January 17, 2017 by Harper Voyager
Source: EW - (TY Haper!)
Category: Adult, Retelling, Pride & Prejudice

Book Description: 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.

I love retellings, and I'm always up for one based on Pride & Prejudice. But despite that, I've come to realize how rarely they meet my expectations. I've also discovered that my favorite kind of retellings are those that take the flavor of an original tale and blend it into something new, instead of trying to hit all the same plot points of the first story. Despite taking place in a world of dragons and hobgoblins and making "Darcy" a fierce warrior Rider and Aliza a Herbmaster, this story is pretty much exactly the original tale of Darcy and Elizabeth. We do have some characterization shifts, and names have been changed - Daired and Aliza are our main characters here - but it wasn't enough to excite me into loving this book more. 

To me, the faithful retelling felt constraining and frankly a little boring. Partially this is my fault. I didn't read the description closely enough, and my expectations of what this book would entail were off. However, that doesn't change the fact that instead of excitement for what came next, I mostly felt like I was waiting for the next box to be checked on what was supposed to happen. I also didn't like the Bingley (here Brysney) character nearly as much as the original, and that made me sad. 

I did however, like Aliza's sister Anjey more than I ever did sweet Jane. Anjey has a lot more spunk, and is clearer about her feelings. I like Daired's dragon Akkara a lot, and I appreciated that though Daired is a warrior, Aliza is not and has no desire to become one. Although she does prove herself to be brave and capable too. The world itself with dragons and other mythical creatures living and fighting among humans was interesting and had a lot of potential, though I didn't feel like I got to explore enough of it. I am also so happy this author didn't try to make the story triangle-y at all with the introduction of the Wickham character. But those things, and the few places the story managed to add it's own plot directions - mostly at the end - did not add enough new for me. 

Basically, if you want a more or less straight retelling, set in a Regency like fantasy world, this is the book for you! And knowing that ahead of time (or even not), you may love it. I wish I'd paid more attention to what I was getting into before starting this. If you are looking for a story that takes the flavor of Pride and Prejudice and turns it into something all its own, you will not find it here. 

Also, note, this is an adult fantasy book (Aliza is in her early 20s), but it is as clean as the original text, and would be great for a crossover to YA. 
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone (as far as I know?) I could see more stories set in this world, however. 


  1. I am so disappointed in you, Lauren!!!!!!!!! I'm kidding (mostly), but in all seriousness, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book more. I absolutely loved it. <3333 It is indeed a standalone! I would love to read more from this author - wouldn't it be cool if she wrote about the other sisters and with a retelling of another classic? I'd be on board. :D

    Great review, Lauren!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  2. I haven't read this book yet, but I also prefer retellings with changes and twists, or I find myself getting bored. I don't want a scene-by-scene, word-for-word retelling where I can predict what happens XD I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this book as much as you had hoped. Awesome review, though! :D

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

  3. Aw, I'm so sorry that you had so many issues with this book sweetie :\ But yay for liking a few things at least :) I think that cover is so gorgeous. And curious about the book; but unsure about it too, haha :) Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts about it Lauren. <3


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