A Goodreads "YA Best Book of the Month"
An Amazon "Best Book of the Month: Science Fiction & Fantasy"
Zera is a Heartlessthe immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger, 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 Zera's 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 himevery tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge himuntil 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.
About the Author
Sara Wolf is a writer, Sox fan, wine girl, and author of the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego, California, where she burns instead of tans. When she isn't pouring her allotted lifeforce into writing, she's reading, accidentally burning houses down whilst baking, or making faces at her highly appreciative cat.
Read an Excerpt
The Starving Wolf and the Black Rose
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. I briefly debate telling him humans don't taste all that good, until I remember normal girls don't eat people. Or fake their way into royal courts.
Normal, I think to myself. Completely and utterly normal. Bat your eyelashes. Laugh like you've got nothing in your head. Old God's teeth, what in the flaming afterlife do normal girls do again?
The other girls would know. There are three of us, three girls in cake-pink dresses, kneeling before King Sref's throne. We wear veils to hide our faces. I'd ask them, but we're currently busy drowning in expensive lace and the silent stares of every gilded noble in the room. Well, the other two girls are. I'm doing more of a laughing internally at the way they carefully tilt their gorgeous heads and purse their pouts thing. Look More Attractive Than the Girl Next to You is the name of the game their mothers have been teaching them from birth.
Mine taught me how to die, and not much else.
"You are all as lovely as rose blooms," the king says finally. His face is weathered with a handsome age. Dignity carves lines around his steel-colored eyes. The smile in them doesn't reach those eyes, though, a sure sign it's only half sincere. He is old, he is powerful, and he is bored — the most dangerous combination I can think of.
"Thank you, Your Majesty," the two girls echo, and I quickly mimic them. I've nicknamed them in my head — Charm and Grace. Charm and Grace don't dare look at anything but the marble floor, while my eyes dart about, thirsty for the rich silks of the nobles' clothes and the gold serpents carved into the majestic stone columns. Three years stuck in the woods serving a witch makes your eyes hungry for anything that isn't a tree or deer droppings. I can't raise my head for fear I'll be singled out, but I can look just high enough to see the feet of Queen Kolissa and her son. Crown Prince Lucien d'Malvane, Archduke of Tollmount-Kilstead, Fireborn, the Black Eagle — he has a dozen names, all of them eye-roll worthy. If there's one thing I've learned from my single day at the royal court, it's that the more names someone has, the less he actually does.
I haven't seen more than the prince's booted toes, and I already know he's useless.
And soon, if I have my way, he'll be heartless.
"I welcome you, the newest additions to our illustrious court," King Sref says. His voice booms, but out of decorum, not of passion.
"Thank you, Your Majesty," Charm and Grace say, and I echo. I'm starting to get the hang of this — thank everyone a lot and look pretty. Infiltrating the palace might not be so hard after all.
Queen Kolissa's saccharine voice rings out after the king's. "I hope you will bring honor to your families and uphold the ideals of this great nation," she says.
"Thank you, Your Majesty," we respond.
I hear the queen murmur something. A deep voice softly says something back, and then her voice gets an inch louder — but still so quiet only the three of us, kneeling at the foot of the throne, can hear it.
"Say something, please, Lucien."
"That would be pointless, Mother, and I tend to avoid doing pointless things."
"You know I hate this outdated ceremony. Look at them — they're here only for their families. No girl in her right mind would subject herself to this humiliating display." The prince's voice is laced with dark venom, and I flinch. It's nothing like his father's carefully emotionless tone or his mother's sickly sweet one. Unlike the rest of these restrained nobles, his emotions burn hot just beneath the surface. He hasn't learned how to hide them completely, not yet.
"It's a tradition," the queen insists. "Now say something to them, or so help me —"
The screech of a chair across marble resounds, and the prince demands of us: "Rise."
The two girls, graceful as swans, lift their skirts and stand. I bite back a swear as I do the same and nearly trip over my ornate shoes. Note to past self: four days of training isn't nearly enough time to teach someone to walk in a pair of ribboned death traps. How Charm and Grace do it so effortlessly is beyond me, but the blushes on their faces aren't.
I look up to the prince now standing on the top step before us. Even without the advantage of elevation, I can see he's tall — a warrior's height, his silver-vested torso lean and his velvet-caped shoulders broad. A year? No, he's maybe two years or so older than my ageless teenage form of sixteen; the corded muscles tell me that much. Why they call him the Black Eagle is obvious now: his hair is blacker than a raven's, windswept about his face and long in the back, kept in a single braid that traces his spine. His face is his father's in its prime: a proud, hawkish nose, cheekbones so high and dignified they border arrogance. His skin is his father's, too, sun-kissed oakwood, and yet his eyes are his mother's — piercing dark iron sharpened to a fine, angry blade point. He is all pride and sable darkness, and every part of me hates it — hates the fact that someone who's to inherit so much power and wealth is striking as well. I want him hunched and covered in warts. I want him weak-chinned and watery-eyed. But the world is unfair, always. I learned that the day my parents were killed.
The day I was made into a monster.
The girls beside me all but salivate, and I do my best to look bored. On my way here I saw much better-looking boys. Dozens. Hundreds. All right, fine — there was only the one, and he was a painter's model in the streets of the artists' district, but none of that matters, because the way Prince Lucien sneers his next question wipes every ounce of attraction from my mind.
"A lady isn't merely a decoration," he says, words rumbling like thunder. "She is the mother of our future, the teacher of our progeny. A lady must have a brain between her ears, as must we all. For what is beauty without purpose? Nothing more than a vase of flowers, to wither and be thrown away."
Books written by the smartest polymaths have told me the planet is round, that it rotates about the sun, and that there are magnetic poles to our east and west at the coldest parts, and I believe them, yet in no way can I believe there's someone who exists who's this arrogant.
The nobles titter among themselves, but it quickly dies down when King Sref holds up a hand. "These are the Spring Brides, my prince," the king says patiently. "They're of noble lineage. They've studied and practiced much to be here. They deserve more respect than this."
Someone's getting scolded, I think with a singsong tone. Prince Lucien throws his sharp gaze to the king.
"Of course, Your Majesty." His disdain at calling his father "Your Majesty" is obvious. Consider yourself lucky, Prince, I think. That you have a father at all in this cruel world.
"But" — the prince turns to the noble audience — "all too often do we equate nobleness of blood for soundness of mind and goodness of judgment."
His eyes sweep the room, and this time, the nobles are dead silent. The shuffling of feet and cough-clearing of throats is deafeningly uncomfortable. I haven't been here long, but I recognize his stance. It's the same one young forest wolves take with their elders; he's challenging the nobles, and by the looks of the king's white knuckles and the queen's terrified face, I'd guess it's a dangerous game he's playing.
"Let us welcome the Spring Brides as the kings of the Old God did." The prince sweeps his hands out. "With a question of character."
The nobles murmur, perturbed. The silver half circles with three spokes through them dripping from every building in the city weren't exactly subtle; the New God, Kavar, rules here in Vetris. The Sunless War was fought for Kavar thirty years ago, and the Old God's followers were slaughtered and driven out of Vetris. His statues were torn down, his temples demolished. Now, carrying on an Old God tradition is a death sentence. The king knows this — and covers for his son quickly.
"The kings of the Old God were misguided, but they built the foundation upon which this country thrives. The roads, the walls, the dams — all of them were built by the Old Kings. To erase them from existence would be a crime to history, to truth. Let us have one last Old tradition here, today, and shed such outdated formalities with grace."
It's a good save. You don't have to be a noble to see that. Prince Lucien looks miffed at his father's attempts to assuage the nobles, but he hides it and turns back to the three of us.
"Answer this question to the best of your abilities as you raise your veils. What is the king's worth?"
There's a long moment of quiet. I can practically hear the brain-cogs of the girls churning madly beside me. The nobles murmur to one another, laughing and giggling and raising eyebrows in our direction. The king is immeasurable in his worth. To say anything less would be madness. A swamp-thick layer of scorn and amusement makes the air reek and my skin crawl.
Finally, Charm lifts her veil and clears her throat to speak.
"The king is worth ... a million — no! A trillion gold coins. No — seven trillion!" The nobles' laughter gets louder. Charm blushes beet-red. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty. My father never taught me numbers. Just sewing and things."
King Sref smiles good-naturedly. "It's quite all right. That was a lovely answer."
The prince says nothing, face unimpressed, and points to Grace. She curtsies and lifts her veil.
"The king's worth cannot be measured," she says clearly. "It is as high as the highest peak of the Tollmount-Kilstead Mountains, as wide as the Endless Bog in the south. His worth is deeper than the darkest depths of the Twisted Ocean."
This time, the nobles don't laugh. Someone starts a quiet applause, and it spreads.
"A very eloquent answer," the king says. The girl looks pleased with herself, curtsying again and glancing hopefully at Prince Lucien. His grimace only deepens.
"You, the ungainly one." The prince finally points to me. "What say you?"
His insult stings, but for only a moment. Of course I'm ungainly compared to him. Anyone would be. I'm sure the only one he doesn't think ungainly is the mirror in his room.
I hold his gaze, though it burns like sunfire on my skin. His distaste for me, for the girls beside me, for every noble in this room, is palpable. He expects nothing from me, from anyone — I can see that in the way his eyes prematurely cloud with disdain the moment I open my mouth.
He expects nothing new. I must be everything new.
I lift my veil slowly as I say, "The king's worth is exactly one potato."
There's a silence, and then a shock wave ripples through the room, carrying gasps and frenzied whispers with it. The celeon guards grip their halberds and narrow their catlike eyes, their tails swishing madly. Any one of them could rip me in half as easily as paper, though it wouldn't kill me. It'd just betray me as a Heartless — a witch's servant — to the entire noble court, which is considerably worse than having your insides spilled on the marble. Witches are Old God worshippers and fought against humans in the Sunless War. We are the enemy.
I'm the enemy, wearing the mask of a noble girl who's just said something very insulting about her king in the foolish hopes of catching the prince's attention.
The queen clutches her handkerchief to her chest, clearly offended at my words. The king raises one eyebrow. The prince, on the other hand, smiles. It's so slow and luxurious I barely see it form, and then all at once his face is practically gleeful. He's handsome, I think to myself — handsome enough when he isn't being a hateful dog turd. He tames his expression and clears his throat.
"Are you going to elaborate, or should I have you thrown in the dungeons for slandering the king right here and now?"
The celeon advance, and my unheart quivers. The prince is enjoying the idea of throwing me in the dungeon a little too much for my taste. I raise my chin, carefully keeping my shoulders wide and my face passive. Strong. I will make an impression here, or I will die for my loose tongue. It's that simple.
Except it isn't that simple.
Because I can't die.
Because unlike the girls next to me, I'm not here to impress the king and win a royal's hand in marriage or a court position for my father.
I'm here for Prince Lucien's heart.
Literally, not figuratively. Although figuratively would be easier, wouldn't it? Making boys fall in love is easy, from what little I remember of my human life before — all it takes are compliments and batting eyelashes and a low-cut dress or five and they're clay putty in your hands. But I'm here for the organ beating in his chest, and it will be mine, by gambit or by force. In order to get that close, I must earn his trust. The prince expects idiots and sycophants. I must give him the opposite. I must be brilliance itself, a diamond dagger between the flesh of his stagnant noble life.
"To the common people of this country," I press on, "one potato can mean the difference between starving in winter and making it through to spring. A single potato means life. A single potato is a saving grace. To the king's people living in his villages, in his kingdom, nothing is more precious than one potato."
The murmur that goes around the room is hushed, confusion written on the nobles' faces. They have no idea, I'm sure, of what it's like to starve. But it's all I've ever known.
I lock eyes with the prince once more. His face, too, is confused, but in a different way from the crowd's. He looks at me like he's never seen a person before, as if I'm some odd specimen kept in a cool cellar for later study by a polymath. The boredom in his gaze is gone, replaced with a strange, stiff sort of shock. I should look away, act modest or shy, but I don't. I make my eyes sing the determined words my mouth can't say.
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.
I let the smallest, hungriest smirk of mine loose on him.
If you were smart, you'd start running, too.
The queen smiles, squeezing the king's arm, and the king laughs. Nothing about it is bland or subdued; it leaks with the hoarse edges of unbridled amusement. For the briefest moment as he smiles at me, he looks ten years younger.
"What is your name, clever little Bride?"
My mind says, Zera, no last name, daughter of a merchant couple whose faces I'm starting to forget: Orphan, Thief, Lover of bad novels and good cake, and indentured servant of the witch Nightsinger, who sent me here to rip your son's heart from his chest.
I dip into a wobbly curtsy instead and spill my lie with a smile. "Zera Y'shennria, Your Majesty; niece of Quin Y'shennria, Lady of the House of Y'shennria and Ravenshaunt. Thank you for having me here today."
Thank you, and I'm sorry.
As sorry as a monster can be.
* * *
Five days earlier
I've been stabbed.
This is, unfortunately, nothing new to me.
"Kavar's teeth." I swear the New God's name, twisting my arm behind me and fingering the dagger's handle. "This was my favorite dress."
One moment I'm walking on the forest road back home, and the next I'm skewered like a village pig. I make a mental note to mark this night in my nonexistent diary as the best one ever.
The willowy figure that stabbed me stands in front of me, a dark, hooded cloak obscuring his face and body. I have no idea who he is — but he moved too fast to be human, and he's too tall to be one of the pale Beneather race that lives underground. The swishing blue tail tipped with fur is a dead giveaway — definitely a celeon assassin, a member of a catlike race that thinks quick and strikes quicker.
"Are you just going to stand there?" I pant, my fingers meeting the slick river of blood running down the laces of my bodice. "If you want to kill me, I'd prefer you make it quicker than this."
"You aren't dead," the celeon growls — their voices always sound sleek yet rough, like a banner of silk dragged across gravel. His eyes glint golden from the darkness of his hood.
"A master of observation and a master of stabbing young girls walking alone at night!" I force a pained smile. "It's an honor. I'd bow, but the knife you so graciously gifted me is making that a tad difficult."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Bring Me Their Hearts"
Copyright © 2018 Sara Wolf.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This author takes a world completely foreign to us and submerges you into it in such a way that you can relate to the charactors. You are concerned for the charactors as well as enthused to discover the mysteries.
I absolutely adored this book, which I wasn't really expecting to. I bought it when out at barnes and noble with some new friends, and picked it up because the cover intrigued me (and it was signed and came with a bookmark!). It looked like a typical fantasy, and I feel like it was more than that. However, if you like Throne of Glass and other YA fantasy similar to that, then I feel like this is a good read for you. This is a retelling with disabled/wlw rep that invokes the forbidden romance trope. The story is deceptive, appearing light and easy at first but becoming much heavier and more meaningful as the book progresses. The protagonist, Zera, is a witch's thrall tasked with stealing the literal heart of the crown prince of the kingdom in order to prevent a looming war (and to get her own heart back in return). Set in a land and city already reeling from the aftershocks of another recent war between man and witch, Zera sets out on a quest that seems vital for everyone involved. She travels from the witch's forest to the city of Vetris, a technologically advanced and religiously zealous city where the citizens fear men masquerading as witches more than the witches themselves. Zera is a snarky character, whose dialogue is filled with sarcasm and sass (and sometimes jokes that are a little ill-timed). She banters with everything with and without a pulse, but she cares a great deal more than she would ever let on. Not only is she working to free her own heart, but the hearts of the only friends she can remember as well, and this need drives her throughout the story; however, she is still just a sixteen year old girl--who was once human, and finds herself falling for the very prince whose heart she's been sent to kill. She is constantly battling her Heartless hunger for blood in a fight between the monster she already is and the monster she doesn't want to become. She's haunted by the snippets of past she can remember, and yearns to regain her heart to remember more. I think this is a fantastic fantasy because it stands out. The main magic expressed throughout the book is the creation of Heartless, while any other magic the witches are capable of is secondary or only hinted at. I'm excited to see more of this magic system as the series progresses, especially set in contrast to the multitude of technological advances that are also found in this world. I saw this was a top seller in the "retellings" category, and I'm pretty sure this is a retelling of Ella Enchanted (the more I consider this, the more similarities I see). Lastly, the romance. There is a bit of an insta-love quality to Zera and Lucien's (the Crown Prince) relationship, as her snark quickly wears down his harsh edges and gets under his skin. The part that hurt me the most is the forbidden romance aspect of it; you know from reading the synopsis that she's tasked with taking his heart, and when she starts wanting his heart romantically she realizes that she can only have one. There is a huge internal struggle of Zera trying to be better and be the girl she wants to be, and her decisions are incredibly difficult considering there doesn't really seem to be a better choice.
I heart this book a million times over. Get it? Ha. Bring Me Their Hearts is one of those great books that you find and wish more people were reading. The story is unique and the writing is flawless. Also I adore every character. The setting and the plot are all great but the true heart (ya I’m making too many puns) of the story is about the relationships. I’m not just talking about the developing romance between Lucian and Zera but also her interactions with other characters. Y’shennria and Zera in particular is one of my favorites. Y’shennria is such a complex person with such a complex past. The way Zera and her find each other is such a sweet and endearing part to the story. Neither of them wants to be in the situation they are in but they find themselves going through it together. I also really love Lucien and Malachite and how much the two of them care for each other. Being that Lucien’s father has pretty much shut down since losing Vera. Of course there is also Fionne and Reginall, so many characters that have their own impact but not in a overwhelming way. I love Zera!!! She is so funny and quick witted. Also skilled with a sword to hold her own. I wasn’t actually sure how I felt about Lucien but I love love the witty banter between the two of them. It’s such a perfect slow burning romance. As much as I wanted them to get together, I was also really content with their friendship that gets established first. The story is so unique and cool. The world building as well. It doesn’t necessarily happen in many different settings but the whole role that magic takes. From the witches who once were allies and then became enemies. To the Beneathers who have their own mystical powers. From the polymaths and their inventions. It was just so interesting! The pacing of the story is perfect. You never feel like things are getting too slow or bored. Part of me did not want to finish the book because I was like nooooo I don’t want to wait for the next one. Which I still feel that way. Noooooo I don’t want to wait for the next one. Love love this book and I hope people who are fans of YA and Fantasy read it!
I quite enjoyed this book, and look forward to the next in the trilogy. In a nutshell, you have Zera, a Heartless, meaning her heart is kept in a jar by a witch, who can control her- think zombie-lite. She can only eat raw flesh, but she still looks & thinks like a normal human. Zera wants nothing more than to get her heart back, but to do so, she must pretend to be a noble and take part in what is basically a "find a wife for the Crown Prince" festival. She must get close enough to the prince to cut his heart out, put it in a jar, and get it back to the witches in order to make him a Heartless, so he can be used as ransom to stop an impending war between humans and witches. That's the jist of it. So, on to the review-y stuff. The world building was incredible. It's made clear from the beginning this isn't our world- there are three moons, and at least three non-human races (possibly a fourth, five if you count Heartless as a separate race). Once Zera gets to the royal city, the reader gets immersed in the intricacies of the society- the different classes of nobles, the citizens, the polymaths (a class of sort of inventor/scientist/wizard-without-magic types), servants, etc. There's a new religion and god that has forced the old religion and god underground, there's political intrigue, all kinds of backbiting going on amongst the nobles, a past war that still scars the present- a delicious blend of elements that make for a tasty world with some bite to it. The characters are well fleshed out, growing as the story progresses, revealing layers of complexity as the reader gets to know them. I grew to care for them in different ways, and feel anxious for the next book so I can see what happens to them! Now for the story itself: it's a good, solid story, if a bit predictable- you can see the romance coming a mile away. Did that detract from the story? I don't think so- it was still fun seeing it happen, and they are perfect for each other, if they can get past the cutting-out-his-heart business. Zera's snark is refreshing; she gets some good one-liners in, as do some of the other characters. The ending surprised me- I was expecting something a little different, but it was a satisfying cliffhanger. An obnoxious cliffhanger, in that now I have to wait, but satisfying.
GAH! How could I have forgotten, even for a minute, Ms. Wolff’s love of the cliffhanger ending??? Zera’s snarkiness and sass (much like Isis’s in her Lovely Vicious series) really makes this book So. Much. Fun. Throw in some healthy banter with Luc (and a duel! with swords!), truly lovely chemistry, and a seemingly impossible-to-overcome conflict, and I just dare you to put this book down before you’re done. That last 15% or so? It's brutal. I may never recover. Fantasy isn’t my favorite genre, because I have a tendency to get bogged down in the particulars of the world instead of swept up in the story as much as I want to (plus with the unusual names I have a terrible habit of forgetting who's who when they're off the page for a chapter or so...or sometimes less...and then have to search to remind myself who they are)–I freely admit this is just me, though, so if you’re more of a fantasy lover than I am, expect this to be closer to a five-star read for you. It’s definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” I admit–I have no complaints with the writing, or the characters, or the plot--it’s just my own reading tastes. My brain likes "normal". Or its version of it, anyway. ;) Despite that, you’d better believe I’ll be counting the days until the next book comes out, because I need to know what happens. NOW. Write fast, Ms. Wolf!!! (please) Rating: 4 stars / B+ I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I was reminded of Christina Perry's "Jar of Hearts", particularly the lines I've learned to live half a life / And now you want me one more time. Each time Zera is called to duty, the part of her that clings to hope for a better tomorrow seems to die a little more. But that hope isn't without strength. It perseveres and demands she plead for a chance, one chance, until it's granted. The condition, however, is gut-wrenching and means failure is not an option. It's her life, her future, on the line, no matter the cost. But is that true? How true can it be once she's infiltrated the court and finds herself the object of Prince Lucien's interest? It becomes a matter of following orders or defying them. Is happiness, true happiness, worth the pain that is to come? I adored Zera's wittiness and sass. She holds her ground and stands alone in a sea of treacherous beauty and enemies disguised as friends. It's a gilded cage, one Lucien has lived in his entire life and despises. The artificial pleasantries and niceties are overshadowed by his working knowledge of the backstabbing and lying and underhandedness that goes on. Zera's presence offers a much needed reprieve for the unsuspecting Prince. Entertainment ensues as these two navigate each other and fight to save their world, maybe even make it better. I'm discovering that YA holds more merit than I gave it credit for. In the hands of a capable author, YA subgenres can contend, and hold their own, with their Adult counterparts. Authors such as Ms. Wolf see beyond "normal" young adult tendencies to craft characters and create worlds that could be mistaken for mature yet carry notes of childhood long forgotten, of innocence not quite stolen, of dreams deserving of a chance. Hearts is an unexpected gem, a darkly humorous offering of everything I didn't know I could find in a YA Fantasy novel. I look forward to the next book. Please note: This is a cliffhanger, but that has no bearing on this review. Received from publisher for an honest review
Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf is fantasy novel with a romantic twist. Zera is an immortal soldier who is bound in service to a witch, her heart stored in a jar. When the witch tasks her to get the heart of the crown prince in return for her own, it's all or nothing. Prince Lucien has everything and hates it. People either tiptoe around him or are out to claim him. Then Zera comes along and she's not like anyone else. The battle of wits between these two makes for a fun and intense read. The fact that so much is on the line makes it even more complicated. Hate and love are closer than people think, but only one of them can survive and it's hard to see a way out. Overall I enjoyed Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf. This was an intriguing and suspenseful book with a complex and interesting world. (I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
Rating: 4.5 Bring Me Their Hearts was such a delightfully dark novel. It was like a YA fantasy version of The Girl With All The Gifts, which is one of my favorite zombie novels. With witty dialogue, a surprising amount of heart, and some excellent escapades, Bring Me Their Hearts was a refreshing read that subverted tropes. This was an excellent start to what promises to be a new favorite series. The concept of Heartless was so unique, I loved the idea. Instead of mindless, dead zombies, the Heartless are still human. Kind of. Just humans with an unquenchable hunger and little free will of their own. The servitude of the Heartless leads to some interesting moral and ethical debates in the book, particularly toward the later half. Wolf did an excellent job of portraying Zera both as a relatable human and as a monster struggling with her urges. This duality was so fascinating and I loved how Zera’s inner conflict played such a large role in the novel. Plus, it was fun to read a novel where the main character wanted to literally claim the prince’s heart. The world building in general was excellent. The history was well-developed, the political situation easy to understand, and what was revealed of the magic system made sense. I can’t wait to find out more in future novels, I definitely haven’t gotten enough of this world. The characters were all so relatable and well-developed. Even the secondary characters were nuanced. In particular, I loved Zera. She was snarky, smart, and determined. Her relationship with Lady Y’shennria was one of my favorite parts of the book. The mentoring relationship that they had was so heartwarming and wonderful to see. I loved how their opinions of each other changed as they got to know each other better. I originally thought Bring Me Their Hearts was a standalone but I’m so glad that it’s a series. Plus the ending is a bit of cliffhanger so I’m going to be counting down the days until I can read the second book. I’d recommend this one for fans of darker YA fantasies. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Bring Me Their Hearts was an absolute delightful bucket of sass, witches and stabbing. Plus a few bloody tears and fantastic dresses along the way. Honestly it’s just so much fun. It’s part twisted fairy tale + part classic fantasy romp. You know how in all the old fairy tales the Evil Queen is like “BRING ME HER HEART” although 1/10 very unclear what she wants to do with it. Evil queens are so very extra. So this book reminded me of that — plus we have witches who make these monster-bodyguards called “Heartless”. Their hearts are cut out and put in jars and the Heartless are enchanted to do whatever their witches say. Also the Heartless only eat raw organs and have a super creepy voice of Hunger whispering darkly in their head. The stand out for me was how HILARIOUS it is! I reeeally like to laugh and there were just so many good lines! Zera is so so sassy. It’s her coping mechanism, but she honestly just can’t help herself. If someone opens their mouth — SASS BUCKET. Plus Zero is downright refreshing. She hates being a controlled Heartless bodyguard and will do anything to get her freedom…even if that means stabbing the Prince. She’s witty and relatable and vulnerable under the (literally) pointy teeth. Bring Me Their Hearts is witty and sharp, backed by an interesting world and a fun plot! It discusses what it is to be a monster and is full of powerful women, complicated relationship dynamics, and girls in ball gowns with knives. Absolutely what I needed in a deliciously bloody epic fantasy.
**Thank you so much to Entangled Teen for providing me a review copy!! It didn't change my opinion of it, but I appreciated it.** 4.5 crowns, but I'm at the point now where I'm not going to make a remark on a .5 crown because I just want to get to me pushing this book at you. There were a couple of key reasons that I instantly put this book on my TBR the moment I found it: the title was cool, it gave me Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland vibes and even thought I'm such a non-fan of Alice - I love the Queen of Hearts name and concept. Also, I found the book to would be the right porridge to my cold, heartless Book Heart. I thought it would be a cool light read, but it ended up being AMAZING and TENSE and WITTY and JUST SUPER WELL DONE. I've never read a Sara Wolf book before, but I definitely will be seeking out more of her books. I thought it had flow, tension, and well paced out plots. It drops you right into the Spring Bride ceremony, allowing us to see a dramatic moment of our girl, Zera, plotting to snatch up hearts and thrones. Then we seamlessly transitioned back to how she came to be after a prince's heart, posing as a human girl. After the whole backstory, we begin right where we left off. It was so brilliantly done, and I'm just so impressed with it. Gold stars for you and you and you, book. Also, the writing was WITTY. It was nothing laugh out loud, but I absolutely loved how witty all of the characters were. They played off one another fantastically. Not to mention Wolf did an excellent job with world building. I never really felt too overwhelmed or too bored by it. Sometimes, though, there were wayyyyyyyyyyyy too many descriptions for moi. Girl went a little crazy with them. But world building was well thought out, creative, fresh, and new. A++++++++ (also, when did I become a kindergarten teacher here in this review?) But seriously, world building was so great. I thought I had read a lot of witch books, but this was new and inventive. The whole snatching hearts thing reminded me a bit of Once Upon a Time, but Wolf took a HUGE spin on it. I really felt immersed in this world, and I felt like with each page, I was discovering some new and fresh and cool. I was in the fantasy zoneeeeeeeeeeeee, and nobody better pull me out because Mandy rarely gets into Fantasy Land (she's usually more of a Magic Kingdom kind of gal). Let's talk about characters, because they were shininggggggggggggg. I love love love Zera. Definitely going up there as one of my favorite heroines of all time. She was complicated, she was lovable, she was dynamic and went through journeys and struggles and characterization switches. She was so WITTY, and I loved every second of her humor. She could have been cliche Snarky Fantasy Girl, but she was actually entertaining and she had complexity to her that kept her from being a cliche. I felt for her. I rooted for her even when her monster was showing. Although I honestly could have SUPER done without the "Monster" voice. I skipped every single line of that. I mean, I get why it was needed, but I literally sat there was and was like, oh, Monster Voice, Mandy out. But other than that, I absolutely loved being in Zera's head and I just love her dearly. So fierce, so strong, I AM HERE FOR IT. I loved loved loved the side characters as well. I was super hesitant about Lucien at first. I mean, he is Crown Prince man. He is the brooding dark prince that will be moody and broody and I've seen a lot of him be
I love Sara Wolf's Young Adult Contemporary "Lovely Vicious Series". I didn’t think Wolf could top herself as an awesome storyteller after the Vicious Series, but then she goes and gives us a Young Adult Fantasy that is totally out-of this-world. Amazing world building, witches, a heartless immortal soldier, a rebellious prince, and fantastic creatures—it has it all. But—yes, there’s a but—Wolf is killing me with her keep us readers dangling by our fingertips cliffhangers. I didn't think Wolf could leave me dangling more than she did in Lovely Vicious, but I was most definitely wrong! Sara Wolf is the queen of the mother-of-all cliffhangers. You know when you’re on that next to the last page of the book, it's coming, you know it is, but you turn to the last page anyway...and there it is BAM. And you know Wolf has got you. Even if you're screaming, kicking and wanting to throw your kindle, Queen Wolf has hooked you, reeled you in and left you needing more, and I will be dangling anxiously and impatiently, waiting for Zera and Prince Lucien to be continued in the next book. Dang that cliffhanger, but I love Sara Wolf's storytelling; she is awesome. Now, I have three favorite characters in Bring Me Their Hearts that I totally fell in love with. First there is Zera, who is a sixteen year old Heartless and has the most wonderful, wittiest personality and sassy mouth. She’s strongminded and opinionated, and she gives the prince more than he can handle. Then there is Prince Lucien, known as the Black Eagle of the West. Uh yeah, you'll just have to find out why he's called that when you read the story (even among royals they have their tattooed bad boy
As with all the Young Adult books I read, the cover for Bring Me Their Hearts is what caught my attention. The blurb left me intrigued, but not enough to drop everything and read the book. I was honestly on the fence about reading it. Unlike the YA books I read, this one didn’t call to me nor was it tickling my subconscious, demanding to be read. Receiving an early print copy from the publisher is what convinced me to read the story. I’m really happy I gave Bring Me Their Hearts a try. Ten pages in and Zera the heroine, or should I say anti-heroine, grabbed my attention. She’s gutsy and outspoken. My curiosity had me clamoring to learn more about her and her story. Zera is a Heartless, an immortal. She was rescued from death by the witch Nightsinger and for three years has been an indentured servant, tethered to the witch who keeps Zera’s heart on her mantle. When rumors of a potential war arise, Nightsinger and her fellow witches concoct a plan to have Zera take the heart of Prince Lucien Drevenis d’Malvane and deliver it to them. In exchange, Zera will receive back her heart and the hearts of Nightsinger’s other two Heartless, thus making them human again. The plan is set into motion, with Zera masquerading as Lady Zera Y’shennria and inserting herself into the royal court. But Zera gets more than she bargains for. Lucien turns out not to be the pompous, self-entitled, spoiled heir to the throne of Cavanos she thought he was. He despises royalty and the wealth in which they live. In fact, he’s more comfortable being with the poor and doesn’t mind breaking a few laws to help them. These qualities make it hard for Zera to do what she is tasked to do. In addition to her growing feelings for Prince Lucien, Zera starts to make friends in the world she isn’t accustomed to being in. Bring Me Their Hearts was simply an engrossing read. There were parts of the story I didn’t understand like time, place, planet. But I was so captivated by the story and events taking place that I just didn’t care. There’s an element of treason and espionage. Sara Wolf has created creatures I’ve never heard of. She’s written likeable characters you want to see succeed. Well, I don’t really want Zera to take Lucien’s heart because that would kill what little romance they have brewing. But hopefully you get the picture. The scenes are written in such a way that it’s easy to visualize in detail all the events transpiring on the pages. While you are not able to get into the minds of the secondary characters, you do get to know them. And perhaps feel for them. Bring Me Their Hearts didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I didn’t necessarily go into the story having an idea of how it would end, but through events, I thought I knew what was going to happen. I was so wrong. I know this is the first book of a three book series and up until the last couple of paragraphs, I thought there’s no way there can be more books. The last page is mind blowing. Yes, there’s a cliffhanger. And yes, I despise cliffhangers. But this. This was one of those season finale cliffhangers from a 90’s tv drama. It’s one of those cliffhangers where you close the book and wish the people around you read the book, so you could talk, compare notes, and scream oh my god. To say I’m looking forward to the next book in this series is a HUGE understatement. I can’t wait to see what happens next. **I received a copy of this book from the publisher. **
A reading delicacy! Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf! The story opens with three damsels meeting the King, Queen and Prince Lucien as they are tested to become a possible new addition to the royal palace in the form of a bride for Prince Lucien. Zera is one of these supposed damsels, but she’s actually indebted to the witch, Nightsinger, who took her heart in exchange for saving her life three years ago from the murderers who killed Zera’s family. Nightsinger has two others indebted to her,Peligli , a four year old girl and Crav, a boy younger than Zera. The three of them are Nightsinger’s Heartless and they do her bidding. She keeps their hearts until she wants to free them herself. If she dies, they will be free then too. Zera is supposed to be winning the Prince over so she can take his heart and make him a Heartless also. I love Zera with her coping skills and sense of humor and Prince Lucien is interesting too. I enjoy Sara Wolf’s writing style, with the clever wit that keeps me entertained and the complexity of her characters that always make her stories hard to put down. This is the first fantasy from Sara Wolf that I’ve read and I’m greatly impressed. Just as the author dreamed of writing a grand, sweeping and unforgettable fantasy trilogy, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the beginning of it. The action, adventure and dynamic characters make a must-read fantasy, 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
Zera Y'shennrias eligible maiden from old money. Her family still worship the old gods and the noble people have turned their back on them. This is Zera's cover story. She has a mission, one goal to steal the Prince's heart. How romantic! No wait I mean actually steal his heart. Prince Lucien d'Malvane, Archduke of Tollmount-Kilstead, fireborn, the Black Eagle. A prince with too many names but the most important one is the secret one. He has had numerous spring bride offerings but Prince Lucien's heart is cold. His love is hidden. Zera is a Heartless. She protects her witch with the price of her heart. Nightsinger has 3 heartless and Strikes a bargain with Zera for her freedom. Bring the Prince's heart and in exchange, they will have their freedom. Zera wants her heart back more than anything. A heartless is a human without a heart. They have a monster inside them. The monster wants destruction and is settled with raw meat. The heartless have a half-life. They cannot wander far from their witch. They still have interests and dreams but the hunger is always there. There is a war brewing between the witches and humans. The witches want to try and prevent the war but some humans want it. The goal of Nightsinger is to prevent a war. She isn't a bad person she is just trying to survive. Excellent storyline with some loveable characters. The prince is very swoon worthy and Zera is a strong beautiful leading lady. Lady Y'shennria, Zera's "aunt" is one of my favourite characters but everyone has a background story. Everyone is well developed and loveable in their own way. This book is so much more than I expected. It's the first in a trilogy of books and I'm already desperate for the next instalment. Bring me their hearts is enough to quench the monster but will leave you wanting more. 5+ stars out of 5. This is going on my favourite bookshelf. Loved it. I have only scratched the surface of telling you what this book is about. I didn't want to spoil anything. Happy reading. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
"Bring Me Their Hearts" was a fantastic YA fantasy that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to! The only thing I didn't like was that it ends with a cliffhanger and a note to wait for book 2! Can book 2 come today? Anyway, the book follows Zera, who is a Heartless. On this other planet with 3 moons, witches are at odds with humans. A recent war decimated most of the humans as the witches used their magic and their Heartless against them. Heartless are humans which have had their hearts removed and stored in jars by witches. They cannot be killed easily, as the connected witch can heal them immediately. The only way to kill a Heartless is to shatter their heart (kept safe in a jar by the witch) or to kill the witch that controls them. The Heartless have an appetite for death and struggle to fight this nature- eating raw animal organs helps to maintain their sanity. At the end of the day, the Heartless can be completely controlled by the witch who made them (orders must be followed). Occasionally, a witch will return their heart and they will become human again; however, during the time that they are Heartless, they are frozen in time, unable to age. Zera became a Heartless when she was 16, and she and her merchant family were killed by thieves. Nightsinger, a witch, found her and made her Heartless, saving her life in a way- however, Zera sees being Heartless as a curse and would do anything to get her heart back. Nightsinger has two other Heartless, Crav and Peligli, also children who would have died without being turned into Heartless. When Zera is offered a bargain- steal the crown prince's heart (literally) in exchange for that of hers, Crav, and Peligli's- Zera is willing to do so. However, things are not as simple as Zera had hoped, and Lucien is not as easy to hate as she would wish. As she becomes ingrained in the upper class society of the human realm, Zera finds that she may be more human than she previously thought. Filled with witty moments and stunning revelations, this book is one you shouldn't miss! "Almosts, I'm starting to learn, are fuller of regret than absolutes- much sadder than certain yeses and nos. Yes and no mark ends and beginnings. But almosts cling, hovering on the boundary, never quite realized yet still there." This book is a must-read! You won't regret picking up, and you'll be demanding book 2 as much as I am! Zera's journey is intense and wonderful with moments of love and humor so endearing you can't help but feel enthralled with the "monster" that is her Heartless. Not to mention all the incredible side characters that you will absolutely fall in love with, including her "auntie" and some of the other court schemers. This book is definitely one of my new favorites! I highly recommend. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.