“Heartstone” by Elle Katharine White is a fun fantasy tale that pays homage to one of my favorite historical romances, “Pride and Prejudice.” I was fascinated to read this parallel story that features dragons and wyverns and other amazing creatures and their human companions who have their share of faults and charms despite the rigorous winnowing that allow them to become Riders.
Plucky Aliza Bentaine is a force to be reckoned with, whether defending her gentle and besotted older sister or searching for a cure for various ailments, but sometimes things got a little too glossed over for my tastes—especially the extent of destruction and death and the repercussions of injury. I love her interaction with the hobgoblin and the gnome but I am still a bit confused about the dynamics and interactions of all of the creatures, and Aliza’s dramatic foray into the den of deadly creatures…well, that really strained credulity. The incredibly awkward relationship with Alastair Daired that is meant to evoke Darcy and Elizabeth was a bit more difficult to swallow in this book and I think perhaps it’s because attention is diverted to the wonderful dragons. It was easier for me to believe that Aliza establishes a bond with the dragon Akarra than with Alastair. There are also a few things that didn’t quite gel for me but this was still a very entertaining and exciting story and I definitely hope there will be a sequel (with maybe a few more explanations, lol).
Tragedy has struck the inhabitants of a small area in the kingdom of Arle, and they have pooled their limited resources to hire a group of Riders to rid them of the gryphons that are terrorizing them. Aliza Bentaine is the first of her family to meet one of the fabled rescuers, but their inauspicious beginning only seems to go downhill from there. Lucky for her friends and family, the other Riders don’t consider Aliza and her family beneath them in status, particularly one particular Rider who falls for her older sister. Alas, plans don’t always go the way they are intended, and it is often difficult to determine friend from foe, so one hopes Aliza continues to display the resourcefulness and self-possession she is known for. It may become a matter of life and death for many beings that she choose wisely for herself and for her beloved sisters.
A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.
They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.
Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.
Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.
It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.
Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.