Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Heartstone is a fantastical retelling of the classic Pride & Prejudice. Elle Katharine White’s version takes place in the land of Arle, most specifically, in Hart’s Run. Aliza Bentaine is an aspiring artist who lives in a world plagued by the threat of the Tekari—lamias, banshees, gryphons, direwolves, and lindworms—creatures who hate humans. Those that fight to protect the humans, Riders, work/bond with the Shani—wyverns, dragons, beoryns—creatures that are friendly to humans.
Alastair Daired is part of the legendary House Pendragon. A contract commissioned by the Lord of Hart’s Run to help rid them of a problem with a gryphon horde brings Daired, among other Riders, to Aliza’s front door, where the two almost immediately butt heads. Besides their early animosity towards one another, it soon becomes apparent that something evil is awakening in Arle, something that will force everyone to stand up and fight. For Aliza, not a warrior herself, she’ll to rely on her inner strength and the strength of her heart.
Right away, being a revamping of Pride & Prejudice, Heartstone presents itself as extremely accessible seeing as how many people are familiar with the source material.
However, I found this both a blessing and a curse for Heartstone. A blessing, obviously for the reason mentioned above. If you enjoyed Jane Austen’s classic, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’ll enjoy this updated version as well. I loved kind of having a stepping stone to follow, and I enjoyed the anticipation in seeing how beloved scenes played out in Elle Katharine White’s words.
So why a curse? Well, Elle Katharine White does a wonderful job in creating this awesomely original world with dragons and wyverns, Tekari and Shani. Heartstones, typically given as tokens of love and commitment, literally come from the hearts of the varying creatures. Where women can train and fight alongside men in battle. A place where you can befriend the hobgoblins living in your garden. I just felt like this awesome world was too constrained by the limits of the storyline it had to follow. I still immensely enjoyed Heartstone, but where it truly shined is when it steps out of the intended path, when Elle Katharine White slightly skews the expected motivations or actions of the characters.
Like Elizabeth Bennet, Aliza is strong. But it’s the addition of Alastair Daired in her life, as well as the impending doom on the horizon that forces her to reevaluate her own preconceptions of the notion of strength. The relationship that develops between Aliza and Alastair does mirror precisely that of Darcy and Elizabeth so I find it a little difficult to talk about it without feeling redundant. But the fact that it does mirror its predecessor means that their relationship is quite satisfactory in the end.
Despite Heartstone being a standalone, I would love for Elle Katharine White to write more in this world because there are so many opportunities to expand. So many avenues that can be explored. I would love to see Ms. White possibly adapt another classic to her world. Regardless, Heartstone is very entertaining, and will please readers of the classic as well as lovers of fantasy.
Sexual content: Kissing