Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is a story of love and adventure. It is a fantasy novel about dragons and princesses and kings and magic. It is the story of 18 year old Una and how she finds her path to true love. This book was nothing I was expecting it to be. When you see the beautiful cover and read the back, you assume it will be a sleeping beauty type story. Handsome hero fights the evil dragon and claims beautiful heroin as his own. The plot however, was a far cry from the expected. Una is of marriageable age and the suitors begin to come calling. She scorns anyone who does not meet her expectations for romance and adventure and soon finds that true love is more than simple excitement. The twists and turns in this book will take you for a wild ride and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance, fantasy, or just a good read.
What I liked about this book: My favorite aspect of this book is the metaphorical. This book could be taken from the Bible. One of the characters, Una's main suitor Prince Aethelbald, is undeniably representing Jesus. And the dragon represents satan. I have read representations of the gospel before, and nothing compared to this. It is essentially a love story between Jesus and you. The theology is bang on too. For example, the dragon (or satan) could not take Una until she had given up all hope and gave in to him. To me, this was one of the most monumental truths in the book. That satan cannot have us as the rightful bride of Christ, unless we lose faith and hope in God and give ourselves to him.
What I didn't like about this book: Una is naiive, her view of love and life is a bit cliche. As a married sceptic of the wonder and joy and perfection and romance that young people think love is sickens me. Love is work, love is so much deeper than the thrill of his hand touching yours or the butterflies in your stomach. That is not love at all. So, to say the least, Una's perspective drives me nuts in the beginning. It isn't until life gives her a good knock on the head that I find her more tolerable as a person.
Who this book is good for: This book is pretty much the perfect gift for a teenage girl. They are naiive enough to be sucked into the romance and love story, and the metaphor of Jesus will give you something to discuss afterwards. They will be able to relate to Jesus in a whole new way as they see him as a suitor instead of a sacrificial lamb that is hard to picture and understand.
All in all, although there were things that drove me nuts, Heartless is a great book for anyone to read. I would strongly suggest reading it yourself before giving it to your daughter, or niece, or whoever as it will give you time to think about the many similarities in the book and the Bible. I highly enjoyed this book, it is one of the best I have read in a long time, despite my scepticism!
**I received a free copy of this book through Baker Publishing Group