Monday, April 12, 2010

Review - Heartless (Tales of the Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (2.5/5 stars)

I got this book through Librarything's Early Reviewer program. I was excited to read it, it looked right up my alley. Over all it was an okay book, some parts were unique but the heroine left a lot to be desired.

Princess Una lives near Goldstone woods. When she comes of age suitors begin arriving. Una wants a romantic suitor and when Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore arrives he is anything but romantic; despite the fact that he claims to love Una. A variety of suitors parades through Una's life, each more dreadful than the last. That's when Una gives her heart to a different type of Prince. Una's worries over marrying are suddenly overshadowed when their kingdom is attacked by a fierce dragon. Una is the only one the dragon wants kept alive. Why is Una kept alive? Will the Prince to whom she gave her heart save her? Which Prince of all her suitors, if any, will rescue her?

There were a couple things I liked about this book. The idea behind how dragons are created was unique and interesting. Prince Aethelbald and the realm of fairy were mysterious and intriguing. I really wanted to learn more about both Aethelbald and fairy. Unfortunately you don't really get to learn a whole bunch more about those things in this book.

There was a lot I didn't like all that much about this book. The world itself was not well built and was a bit confusing setting wise. For example everything is set up like medieval times with princesses and kings, nothing is modern. Then at one point Una is running around in just seemed odd. Una herself switches between using very princess-like stilted language and then suddenly is thinking/talking in modern slang. I just thought that the setting and speech were very inconsistent and I had trouble forming an image of what the world was actually like

The writing style itself is pretty easy to read and well-done; if you can ignore the inconsistency in speech patterns and stuff you should be okay. The characterizations are also okay but a bit weak. Aethelbald is by far the best character in the story and he isn't in the story all that much, you also really never get to learn what drives him.

It takes a long time to set up the story. Over half the book deals with Una lurking around the castle lamenting her choice of suitors. The good part, when the Dragon King enters the scene, doesn't happen until the second half of the book. So while the first half of the book is pretty boring, the second half felt too rushed.

Una herself is not an admirable heroine. She spends all her time mooning over the perfect romantic man and can't seem bothered to take any action to make anything happen in her life. The whole book she is a victim. Never once does she help herself or rescue herself. Even when she is fleeing the castle she tries to depend on former suitors to guide her path. I didn't enjoy her as a character at all and most of the time was just sick of listening to her whining and pleading.

The book is summed up nicely and ties up all the loose ends of the story. If this book had't been part of the Tales of Goldstone Wood I would think it was a stand alone. This is very much a romantic fantasy; but by romance I mean the strictly non-sexual kind. This book contains some violence but other than that it is very PG. If you are into princess/dragon/romance type of fantasy you might enjoy this story. The book didn't offend me, but I didn't think it was all that great either. There were just too many inconsistencies. Overall it was okay. I probably won't bepicking up anymore of Stengl's books though.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges;
- The Debut Author Challenge
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood)

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