Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches
Here, Sara, take my heart, it's yours.
Rips her heart out, gives it to the author, dies. Her ghost now returns to write this review and haunt Sara until the second instalment is out.
Sometimes you see a book, drool over the cover read the premise and know, in your blood and your bones, that you are going to love it. That you'll lose yourself in its pages, see what the characters see and feel what they feel, and that you won't rest until you savor the last sentence. That's the case with Bring Me Their Hearts.
“I simply want your heart, my prince.”
Zera is a Heartless.
The second Heartless to witch Nightsinger, a servant and a soldier meant to obey her master's commands while her heart remains locked in a magical jar. She is overcome with an insatiable hunger for blood, flesh, warm organs and pain, a hunger that whispers of her terrible deeds and beckons her to give in to the darkness. Every day, she begs Nightsinger to give her back her heart. And Nightsinger finally relents, on one condition; Zera must infiltrate the court of the kingdom of Cavanos as a potential bride to Crown Prince Lucien d'Malvane and steal his heart. Literally. There is a war brewing between the worshippers of the Old God and the New, and the witches believe that Lucien is the key to avoid it. With a fallen noble as her guide, Zera learns the ways of nobility and finds herself among backstabbings, feuds and hidden agendas. Between trying to stay inconspicuous and seduce the prince in order to achieve her purposes, Zera discovers a connection with the humanity she thought was lost, and comes to care about people that should only be means to an end. But the dangerous game she plays can only have one outcome: either Lucien loses his heart, or she does.
“I am no flower to be ravaged at your whim, angry wolf - I am your hunter, bow cocked and ready. I am a Heartless, one of the creatures your people fled from in terror thirty years ago.
If you were smart, you'd start running, too.”
Bring Me Their Hearts is a luscious tale of court intrigue, magic and bloodshed, with a dash of sass and a sprinkle of darkness. It's one of those rare stories where the gallant prince does not save the damsel from the monster. In fact, the damsel is the monster, with claws and sharp teeth and murder in her hands, and a gnawing, relentless hunger to feast on blood. But the girl within keeps fighting the monster, with small and big acts of defiance, until her hope is torn and shredded, until her unheart cannot bear the absense of all those things that make a human, well, human. Zera is a villain, the instrument of death and destruction, and that's a refreshing change from all those special snowflakes that dominate YA fantasy. But there is also goodness in her, a desire to aid the helpless and defenseless, and that makes her mental turmoil all more excruciating. There is a constant battle inside of her, and Sara Wolf does a marverlous job describing it. Even when her inner monologues seem long and stretched, even when she can't tame the hunger and thoughts of deliciously ravaged bodies tempt her, even when the monster prevails, Zera's narration is unique, laced with sarcasm, dark humor and want, for something better and brighter.
“What's worse, Reginall - to be a monster, or to make monsters?”
In Bring Me Their Hearts, Sara Wolf crafted a lush, intricate world with sumptuous history and lore; the various races, the religion conflicts, the war and its wounds, the etiquette and the customs enriched the story and opened a portal to compelling yet terrifying fantasy land. With magic sparkling in your fingers and liquor running in your veins, between banquets, balls and nightly escapades, witch purges and illicit meetings, you got to know the city of Vetris, its hypocrisy and its beauty, and you reveled in the court of lies and deceit. The plot was heavy on schemes and rivalries, the secrets of the royal family many, the hatred and the fear palpable, and while Zera tried to navigate herself in her make-believe new life, you followed her in stupor, unable to stand back and distance yourself.
Zera was a snarky character, with a smart mouth and a tendency to say inappropriate things that somehow caught the attention of his royal highness, prince Lucien. The chemistry between them was a living being from the very start, with barbs and banters ignating the fire that threatened to consume them. I basked in the delicious tension and the witty comebacks, the stolen touches and the burning gazes, and I prayed for an outcome that would spare Lucien's life and give them a chance to be together. Lucien was a well-portayed, multi-layered character, and so was lady Y'shennria. Both of them awakened in Zera different emotions and needs, and witnessing the hunger whispering to her that she was unworthy of them was heartaching. And so was the ending that made me gasp in shock.
Bring Me Their Hearts is a delightfully savage, spellbinding tale laden with deceit, sass and magic that will leave its bloody imprint in your (un)heart!
*ARC generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Note: The quotes used in this review are from an uncorrected text and subject to changes.