Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.
Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood), by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is a random read pulled off the Christian book shelf. I'll admit, I was quite shocked to find a new, well-written Christian fantasy. Isn't this what I always looked for as a child?Yes.
The reader follows Princess Una and her daydreams of suitors now that she has come of age. But just like a young romantic girl, her ideas of the "perfect" suitor are young, far-fetched, and unrealistic. So much so that she is practically blind to the man she needs...who just happens to be the "real deal" perfect. Too entranced with her young ideas of love, she is taken by surprise when the feared Dragon King attacks her father's kingdom. Una, held captive, must cling to hope to resist the dragon, but can she do it? Is her hope founded in truth and real love...enough to keep her safe?
Heartless is geared toward grades 8 and up, appropriately so. There are battles and terrors that are only appropriate for teens and older. Still, the novel never reaches inappropriate or gruesome details. I was very pleased in this quality of book on the Christian shelf. Stengl, a new writer, has made a smashing entrance. Her novel weaves in Christian allegory, which is quite clear and evident to a Christian, but anyone (Christian or not) can pick it up and find a clean, inspiring, and adventurous read. There are a few moments near the climax of the book that I felt a little lost in the descriptions and I wasn't sure what was happening, but I skimmed through and still survived with a good grasp on the plot. :)
The writing is slightly advanced and requires a bit more concentration, but there are still the fun adventure elements such as jesters, dragons, castles, magic, sword fighting, and such. Admit it, we all love those "childlike" elements. ;)
I highly recommend this book and wish Anne Stengl the best of luck in her writing career (purely out of selfish reasons in hopes that she'll pop out another novel for my greedy grubby little fingers).
Violence Level: ***
Romance Level: **
Christian Focus: ***
Readability Level: ***
Story Depth Level: ****
Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.