King Sref of Cavanos watches me with the deadened eyes of a raven circling a corpse--patient, waiting to devour me the second I let my guard down. ~ Opening of Bring Me Their Hearts
Bring Me Their Hearts (Bring Me Their Hearts #1) by Sara Wolf
Entangled Teen, 2018
Fantasy (Romance/YA); 400 pgs
Sara Wolf’s Bring Me Their Hearts was pure entertainment, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Zera is a Heartless, an immortal slave to the witch, Nightsinger, who saved her from the bandits who murdered Zera’s family. Zera wants nothing more than her freedom—and her heart back. Zera is used to being told no when she asks for her heart, but this time Nightsinger offers her a deal. Her heart in exchange for the heart of the prince. Those in power hate the witches and will do anything to see them wiped out of existence. The witches have other ideas and using Zera is their latest ploy to gain the upper hand. Time is short, and Zera must learn the skills of a lady in record time. She must pass as a noble or forfeit her life if caught. Her timing could not be more perfect as Lucien is about to choose a bride. At least that is what his parents want. The crown prince is hard to please, however, and nothing short of extraordinary is bound to catch his eye. Zera is not at all what Lucien expected, nor is he what she expected. The two find themselves fighting their attraction to each other while at the same time unable to stay away. The risk to Zera is high. Her very life hangs on the line either way. If she doesn’t get the prince’s heart, she will die. And stealing his heart is the last thing she wants to do.
Zera may be a bit of a smart-ass, but she truly is smart and quick on her feet. Sometimes I found myself rolling my eyes at her quips, but I liked her just the same. She is in a very difficult position, and I felt for her and her situation. I could not help but think of Monstrosity as I read Bring Me Their Hearts. Zera must work hard to keep her inner monster under control. Not having a heart inside her chest has its consequences. I read a tweet in which someone mentioned the author having referred to the voice inside Zera’s head being a mirror image of the author’s own experience with Depression and how that inner voice continually tells her hurtful things. And I could see that. Zera feels so much guilt over her past, sees herself as a monster, but the more the reader gets to know her, the more she seems less like a monster and more like the caring human being she is. For someone without a heart, she has the biggest heart of all in this novel.
It is a constant struggle for Zera to push those voices down. Zera is grateful to the witch who saved her life but also longing to have the tie to her severed. She hates her fate and the more she gets to know the prince, the less she wants him to have to go through that too. Prince Lucien has the expected arrogance of his position, and as is often the case in novels like this, is a bit of a rebel. I got annoyed at some of the games he played with Zera—clearly he likes her, but playing hard to get got old fast for me. I did like him overall though. Lucien, it turns out, has a good head on his shoulders. And I liked that the romance between the two developed over the course of the novel. Neither he nor Zera trust others quickly—and with good reason.
There are a couple of other characters in the novel that won me over as well—both of whom I was skeptical of at first. Fione, a longtime friend of the prince and Lady Y’shennria, the noble woman who takes Zera in and trains her for court. Both have their own agendas and reasons for wanting to help Zera, although Fione does not have a clue about Zera’s true identity.
I was intrigued with the world building in this novel. The old versus the new religion, the way science and magic are woven in, and the politics. The novel has a definite medieval feel to it. The idea of a young woman sent in to assassinate or incapacitate the prince is not a new one, of course. It’s often the story around it that varies. Sara Wolf sets her story in the middle of a war between witches and humans, in which the humans are winning. The witches have developed a strong weapon of their own—that of the Heartless, humans whose hearts they keep in jars. They control those whose hearts they hold captive. Some witches are more humane with their Heartless than others. It could be argued that Zera is lucky the witch holding her heart is humane and even at times kind to her. And while I would not argue against the affection Zera feels toward her witch, there is nothing humane about enslaving someone to do your bidding.
Cliffhangers tend to make me mad, especially in books in which I am deeply involved like this one. Be forewarned as this has a big one. I hope we don’t have to wait long for the next book! Other than that though, I thoroughly enjoyed Bring Me Their Hearts. I look forward to the next book.
For more information about the author and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.