YA Weekend: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Book 1
Publisher: Entangled Teen (June 5, 2018)
Length: 400 pages
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf was so much fun—much more fun than its grisly premise would lead you to believe. The book stars Zera, who was murdered in a brutal bandit attack when she was just sixteen years old, but was then “saved” when the witch Nightsinger resurrected her by carving out her heart, keeping the organ safe in a magical jar. Now Zera has become a Heartless—immortal, un-ageing, and unkillable by any earthly means, but this all comes at a very steep price. She is forever bound to serve Nightsinger, and to prevent herself from transforming into a mindless ravening monster, Zera must consume raw meat regularly to stave off the hunger.
For three long years, Zera has dreamed of becoming human again, which would only happen if Nightsinger gave her back her heart. But now, the witch would give her that very chance to earn back her humanity—with the stipulations being high-risk and dangerous, of course. Another Sunless War is threatening to break out, and in order to stop it from happening, the witches need a hostage they can control completely. Crown Prince Lucien would make the perfect target—but only if he can be turned Heartless. To lure him into the witches’ trap, Zera has been tasked to pose as a potential bride at the next Spring Welcoming, where she will mingle at the court, ingratiate herself with the other nobles, and attempt to steal Lucien’s heart—literally.
Without a doubt, what made this book such a delightfully entertaining read was its main character. Zera is always quick on her feet with a wisecrack retort, but she does it in such an easy and charming way that it’s hard not to like her immediately, especially when most of the victims of her sharp tongue deserve it. I can’t remember the last time I’ve cheered so hard for a protagonist, watching her take the royal court by storm and catching everyone there unawares. But Zera is also more than just a smart mouth and a sassy attitude; deep down she is also wrestling with a past filled with darkness and guilt. In fact, as time goes on, we find out that most of the time her flippancy is her response to her feelings of fear, loneliness, and uncertainty. As insistent as she is on calling herself a monster, she seemed wholly human to me, and for a girl with no heart who claims everything she does is to further her own gains, she sure cares a great deal about others.
The world-building in this book is also exquisite. The relationship between a witch and a Heartless is a little like the one between a vampire and their thralls, except it is much more intricate and nuanced. Heartless are a witch’s personal soldiers, but not all witches treat their Heartless like expendable chattel, and Nightsinger and Zera actually have something close to an affectionate bond. But while a witch can channel their magic into their Heartless to heal and help them, they can also put an end to them instantly by shattering their hearts in their magical jars, which means any kind of attachment between Nightsinger and Zera is still a very unbalanced power dynamic. This is a world full of old gods and ancient magic, and that’s just one of many mysterious and complex systems working behind the scenes. Bitter rivalries and backstabbing powerplays also rage in the royal court of Vetris, which would ultimately determine whose influence wins out, affecting the fates of both humans and witches alike.
The romance should be discussed here too, since it is so integral to the plot. That Zera and Lucien will eventually fall in love is sort of a foregone conclusion, because otherwise, where would be the conflict? Still, I liked that their romantic arc was developed steadily and carefully, with both of them getting to know each other before falling in love. It’s the crux of the novel’s premise after all, since it would be much easier to betray someone and rip out their heart if you saw them as a soulless enemy, but that changes drastically if the man you thought was a stuck-up and callous prince actually turned out to be a good person, with a lifetime full of hopes, dreams, and desires.
To my surprise, this was one of the best YA romances I’ve read in a while, though there were plenty of other relationships at play here that also deserve a mention, including the one between Zera and Lady Y’shennria, the noblewoman helping the witches by pretending to be Zera’s aunt. In truth, I probably enjoyed following their interactions even more than I enjoyed watching Zera and Lucien, because there was just something so earnest and heartbreaking about the desperate way Zera constantly sought Lady Y’shennria’s approval. When they eventually acknowledged each other like true family, I might have even shed a tear or two.
Only a few flaws kept this book from a perfect rating. First, Zera reminds readers every few pages that all she wants is her heart and getting it back is the most important thing to her, yet she sure seems to enjoy sabotaging herself any chance to gets by not sticking the plan or by taking stupid risks. Second, after a while, it becomes clear that everyone involved is on the same side and wants the same thing, which made me think that a good sit-down and bit of decent communication could have solved a lot of problems and made everything a lot less complicated. Third, there was this awful cliffhanger—except what happened was also kind of predictable, so I’m still torn as to what to think about the ending.
Still, when all is said and done, I had a great time with this book. Bring Me Their Hearts had everything I could ever want from a YA novel—superb world-building, a fantastically well-written story, and a phenomenal protagonist I could emphatically root for. I originally set out to read this story about Heartless and heart-taking, never once expecting it to steal my heart so quickly and completely too. But now I am irrevocably hooked, and I want more.
This sounds fun! I need some new YA reads, I’ll have to check this one out.
I hope you enjoy it! In terms of YA fantasy, it’s pretty solid 😀
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Oh good, a YA worthy of adding to my list😁 This sounds so good, and I love the idea of the relationship between the Heartless and the Nightsinger.
Definitely worthy! It takes advantage of some common tropes, but the writing and execution was just so much fun! I think you’d enjoy it 🙂
oh yes I saw this one a lot around! I’m curious to try as well
I hope you get a chance to check it out!
While I would normally steer away from YA, this is one of the rare exceptions that manage to cross the barrier of my distrust thanks to reviews like yours, that point out the strengths of a story and its avoidance of the usual tropes that always have me running for the hills at full speed 🙂
I would not mind giving this one a chance, indeed: thank you so much for sharing!
I’m definitely much warier with YA too these days. But with a premise like that, I just couldn’t resist! It sounded like an old school fairy tale where everyone ends sad and miserable, so how could I say no? 😛
To be honest I did not expect this high praise, rather sad, but you know…YA!
Yeah, the YA genre is hit or miss for me these days, so few gems amidst a lot of duds. But I’m so glad this one worked out, I had looked forward to it so much!
This sounds like a blast. I didn’t expect this is to be as good as your review indicates. All that’s really holding it up is a bit of communication between the characters – but when did that ever happen! It would spoil all the fun.
Yeah it was a lot of fun – mostly thanks to the character! She’s a real riot 😀
Ooooo! I started reading this book but put it aside because I needed some undiluted romance and so I picked up one of my favorite adult romance novels. 😂😂 I have high expectations for this book! Too bad it isn’t a standalone, but that’s okay. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Mogsy!
Have a wonderful week. =)
Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!
Haha, I know what you mean by undiluted romance. Most of what’s in YA these days is usually as much as I can take, but if you need pure romance, I can see how BMTH might not be enough! 😀
I’ve read some good titles from Entangled Teen and this one has been on my radar. I’m so glad to hear how much you’ve enjoyed it and now I KNOW I’m going to pick it up eventually. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m so ready to Zera and her wise-cracking ways!
Now that you mention it, I think this might have been my first Entangled Teen title! I’m definitely interested in checking out more now though!
Oh haha I just came from your wrap-up and didn’t know you’d reviewed this. I’m so happy you loved this book! Like I said before, I just saw a rave review on this one, and I’m uber excited to pick it up. I definitely need a good romance plotline, and the humor is something I live for in books. And like you say, I did hear the ending was a bit iffy, so hopefully it’s not too bad? 😛 Awesome review!!
Oh I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was kinda iffy on the ending, lol! But yeah, otherwise, the book was solid. It’s hard to write a snarky, wise cracking character without making me feel annoyed with them, but somehow I really took to Zera. I hope you get to give this one a read soon, crossing my fingers that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did 😀
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Thank you! It’s actually jumped to the top of my TBR thanks to your review. 😛
Whoa, for some reason I wasn’t expecting you to love this one…probably because of the romance focus, haha. A lovable protagonist, good world building, and a believable romance have me sold. Thanks for the warning about the cliffhanger!
Haha, it’s not that I don’t love a good romance fantasy, it’s just that so few are executed in a way I find balanced and enjoyable. In this case though, I really liked how the author set it up and how there were other things to focus on other than just the love story arc. So yep, it’s quite rare that I enjoy a YA with a strong romance focus, but it can happen sometimes, lol! 😀
This was so much fun and so much to love! Like a breath of fresh air in the YA paranormal genre. So glad this was a win for you too!!
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