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Heartstone by Elle Katherine White ⇉ Pride and Prejudice and Dragons

Monday, January 23, 2017
Quite frankly, it was this gorgeous cover that piqued my interest in this novel. I'm in love with it, and I can't begin to express this love in coherent words. It's beautiful and says so many things about this novel.

I was also interested by the promise of "elements of Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice" (as advertised in the synopsis), but I wasn't prepared a full-blown retelling. That came as a surprise. I wasn't thrilled by how closely this novel follows the original storyline as it made the romance and general plot much too predictable (the author has crafted a fascinating world, and I was hoping to be more surprised by it). That said, there so many other compelling elements of this world that it more than made up for it. (And I can see other readers enjoying the P&P retelling much more than I did.)

Fascinating World Building
My favorite aspect of this novel is the world itself. Elle Katherine White has crafted a fascinating world in which magical creatures are divided among the Shani (friends of humans), the Tekari (who kill humans), and the Idar (indifferent to humans, for the most part). Some of my favorite characters are Shani. (I especially love how the hobgoblins are introduced.) I'd love to talk more about this world, but I'm going to refrain from further comments to avoid spoilers.

Compelling Secondary Characters
Many of the secondary characters are much more likable than their P&P counterparts. It delights me that these characters are given a chance to shine and to show growth (Leyda in particular). One in particular I detested and am happy that he's even more villainized in this classic retelling, though I can't morally support what happens to him in the end.

A Likable, if Bland, Heroine
Aliza Bentaine, our heroine, is a generally likable character. For the most part, Aliza seems smart and capable, and I love her friendship with the hobgoblins (they're delightful little people) and Akarra (now, that's a dragon with a personality). However, there's not much else to her. She doesn't have any dreams for the future as far as I can see, and she spends her time nosying about other peoples' business until she gets caught up with the battle (because: Alistair Dareid). It's the world and her adventures with the others that make this a compelling read.

A Solid Male Lead
Though Alistair is arrogant and prideful, he means well. As a Rider who fights Tekari as an occupation, I'd expect him to be blunt and down to business, so I was fine with him not being all sunshines and rainbows. Aliza's prejudice towards him isn't well developed and seems unfounded after all these nice moments (that is, until everything comes out following the failed proposal). Out of all the characters, Alistair shows the most growth. I would have loved to see his perspective added to the story.

Fast Pacing with Unresolved Storylines
For retelling of such a long novel, Heartstone wasn't long enough to do the whole story justice, especially given all the fantasy elements that are incorporated into the story. I feel like the author is too focused on retelling P&P for much of the novel and forgets to followup on other elements of the novel. The plot moves forward rather quickly, and some storylines fall through. In particular, it's disappointing that the storyline with the mysterious stranger is never fully resolved.

The epic battle at the end also begins and concludes rather abruptly. I wish that the buildup was more gradual and consistent with more hints at the fight to come. It also doesn't help that Aliza misses out on much of it and isn't able to tell us what happens. I would have loved to see another character's view on it, preferably one on the frontlines like Charis (now, that's a character whose backstory and perspective I'd love to see).


QUICKLIST: WHAT I LIKED



  1. Fascinating world building
  2. Compelling secondary characters
  3. Beautiful writing (with some poetic descriptions)
  4. Solid male lead
  5. Gorgeous cover



QUICKLIST: WHAT I DISLIKED



  1. Predictable plot
  2. Flat, one-dimensional characters
  3. Fast pacing
  4. Epic battle not so epic
  5. What happened to Wydrick
  6. Whatever happened to the mysterious stranger?



FINAL THOUGHTS


I wasn't thrilled by how predictable my knowledge of P&P made much of the novel. Furthermore, many of the characters lose opportunity to be more fleshed out given how closely the novel follows the original story. I did love the fantasy elements and wish that more time had been spent building up to the final epic battle (and concluding it). Elle Katherine White has created a compelling world in her debut novel. I am interested in seeing what she sends our way next!

★★★★☆


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.



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What is your favorite classic retelling?



Publication Info
  • Heartstone by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Published by Harper Voyager
  • On January 17, 2017
  • Genres: Epic FantasyClassic Retelling
  • Pages: 352 Pages
  • Format: Paperback
Series
  • N/A
Content
  • Kissing
  • Violence

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel for review from the publisher. All thoughts expressed are my honest opinions.

4 comments on "Heartstone by Elle Katherine White ⇉ Pride and Prejudice and Dragons"
  1. I think that's one of the traps that retellings can fall into, especially if you are familiar with the source material. I recently read Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood which is a retelling of The Tempest. Thankfully I failed to pay attention to the play when we read it in high school!

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    1. Haha...yeah, the retellings I've enjoyed best are the ones whose originals I've yet to read or have read so long ago that I no longer remember the plot very well. There are also the ones though that take more artistic liberties with the original stories (Jackson Pearce's fairy tale retellings do just that).

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  2. Ahhhh I'm glad you liked it!! I'M SO SO RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED FOR IT BECAUSE DRAGONS. 😍😍 It's a shame about the heroine being bland...agh. That's a pet peeve of mine. Especially of the world-building/premise is excellent. And I've never read P&P. Do you think it'd still make sense for me?? I hope so because I really want to dragon. 😜

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    1. YES, you can definitely read this without having read P&P. I think you would enjoy it even more than I did because you don't know the general plotline, so no spoilers. I love Akarra (the dragon); she's probably my favorite character. 😃

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