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Monsterous Hearts: A ‘Bring Me Their Hearts’ Book Review

I am shook, ya’ll. PURE SHOOK. I am warning you now, there are spoilers abound in the words below. That’s how much this book messed with me- I couldn’t help it. Usually, I am able to produce spoiler free reviews, but NOT THIS TIME! You have been warned.

“Heart or no heart, you’ll always be a monster.”

★★★★★

Author: Sara Wolf
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Format: Audiobook/Hardback
Narrator: Em Elderidge

Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.
So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

“…nothing in life is simple. It’s all utter maddening chaos and contradicting emotions.”

The Book Dragon breaks down….

Plot: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
World: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★ 1/2
Character Development: ★★★★★

When I first received the recommendation on Amazon to read “Bring Me Their Hearts” I dismissed it, honestly. The cover just wasn’t appealing to me. It was cartoonish and led me to believe that it was a middle school style novel.
I was right. This novel is most definitely written for a younger YA crowd. That however, is as far as the typical MG novel stereotyping ends. Bring me Their Hearts still contains the oh so loved YA tropes: sexual tensions, violence, deception, but it’s written in a way that allows a complex story can be easily understood and enjoyed thoroughly by any age.

BMTH follows Zera — a young girl turned monster soldier for witches. When an “end of worlds” battle looms over both witches and humans, she is thrust into the world that she long ago left behind.

With little more than a disgraced lady of the court, and a butler who seems to share a secret similar to her own to face the prince and his daunting tasks, she sets out to win his hand and save the witches in the process. If she succeeds, she wins back her heart -not only for herself, but for her two heartless siblings.

Zera jumps at the chance, no matter how dangerous, with the thought of freedom dangling in front of her. She would chase that forbidden fruit, hanging so preciously there – just out of reach – until she either succeeded or was killed. No other option existed.

She’s a heartless, nothing in her chest to feel, so this should be easy, right? She won’t fall in love with the prince, and she won’t earn for the affection of a disgraced lady; one that cannot stand the sight or thought of her.

“If you fear the past, it becomes your future.”

Zera is amazing, but she’s also annoying and irrational. We see this immediately in the way she reacts to the assassin who tries to kill her, and even more so when she stands up in her debut and compares the King’s worth to a single potato. Spouting off to the royal family on your very first visit to the palace is probably not the smartest thing to do – she did it anyways. Her cunning and wit is superb, but sometimes she’s a bit much and it comes off as tacky. I am 100% positive that the author intended this as well – a personality flaw, realistic and fantastic.

She is a surprisingly well rounded character, despite her monstrous nature. She’s incredibly kindhearted, caring for the two “younger” heartless children and longing for the care of the Lady she resided with during her “mission”.

Despite her heart residing with her witch owner, she showed an ability to love with a passion that she herself does not yet know she has. I feel like many times, Zera surprised herself with her actions and reactions to events that unfolded around her.

The cast of characters in this novel is literally what makes it so outstanding. The story line is very good, but the characters… they are breathtaking at times. They are vibrant and hysterical. Mysterious and Clever. They blend so seamlessly together with a snark so biting you have to do a double take. Each character added their own depth to the story, at times even outshining Zera. Foine and Malachite were scene stealers, no matter if Fione was playing the timid and scared niece of the wicked bad guy, or Malachite was agreeing with Zera’s assessment of Prince Lucien’s arrogance.

Zera’s friendship with each of the characters starts on rocky ground. Fione being one of the most entertaining. Zera, being the fabulously manner-less being that she is insults her, but beautifully undoes it with an apology that is both amusing and genuine.

Malachite “rescues” her from an assault by the twins of the court and Whisper, the cunning thief that took her breath away in the court is none other than Prince Lucien himself. All of these things complicate an already complicated event that she has been tasked with completing.

Fione is probably my favorite character of the series for ONE REASON — SHE HAS A CLUBBED FOOT YA’LL!

OK, so what…. right? Well, for me, some one who was born with a clubbed foot – some one who was told they could not do the things they wanted to do because of that disability – this book spoke volumes to me. She may not have been a heroine, and she may still be an evil bitch under all of that sweetness, but she is a completely capable handicapped person and it made my world so much brighter. Inclusion is something that more authors have been striving for and the character felt authentic. She did not feel disabled for the sake of being disabled. Instead, her disability was there, but was not the story. It was only a current that helped propel Fione in the direction she was already headed.

The underlying theme of hope kept me turning the pages. Something Reginald told her really hit me with a gut hurdling punch that I rarely get.

“Fight with everything you have, everything you are. Everything that is left of you–battle with it.

There is something so raw in her stubbornness. Her unwillingness to accept that things are going to go to shit, no matter what she does. All she needed was that reminder from someone that had been in her shoes. It’s easy to attribute this to her desire to win back her heart, and the hearts of those she loves- but I believe that it goes much deeper than that.

The undertone in the inferior race of Beneathers, which Malachite so beautifully points out is spoken completely wrong, really brings to life a modern aspect of our reality. The way people treat and act around others based solely on their origins. There were so many different parallels to our current social environment that at times, the hair on my arms would stand.

THE ENDING. OK FOLKS. This is the large reason why I am so damn upset. We have been building this slow burn of a book for basically..uh..the ENTIRE BOOK! Then suddenly, out of no where, this battle happens, a long lost girl shows up and then boom it’s over. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REST OF THE BOOK!? WHERE IS IT!? PLEASE HELP ME!

Fight by the moonlight, the starlight, whatever faded hope you can find at any moment–cling to it.

The last thing I want to touch on is the subtle LGBT references. Fione took the Princess’s death WAY too hard, IMO. Yes, they were friends, yes she loved her, but the love and the mourning that she held on to every day was the grief of loosing a loved one, a partner — not the grief of losing a friend. I would really love to get some others input on this. This is something that seemed very obvious to me, but I honestly haven’t heard/seen anyone else mention it, so I’m curious. If you did, definitely drop me a line below and let me know!

Overall, I give this book 4/5 STARS! I do think that the narrator could have been a bit better, she was a bit bland at times and it pulled away from the complexity of the characters. I am still reeling over that ending! I cannot believe that a publisher would even let a book end that way! (I am joking, I absolutely loved the ending and it only made me scream in anger that there was nothing more to read.)

There will be more, and I will be devouring them as quickly as Zera devours her livers. 🙂

Embrace the smallest of lights, and never stop fighting.”

tl;dr…

Zera is a bad ass, but Fione and Malachite are bomb. The audiobook was a 4/5 star read, but the novel (story) itself was a hands down 5 star read! With brilliantly real characters, relatable themes and a plot to keep the pages turning, this novel is a perfect addition for any reader who loves sassy anti heroines, dark themes, and stunning plot twists. Read the book. Now.

About the Author:

Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

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