Heartless is book one of 'Tales of Goldstone Wood', debut novel by author, Anne Elisabeth Stengl.
Princess Una of Parumvir has just turned eighteen and is excited about her suitors that are soon to apply for her hand in marriage. Her father, King Fidel, has promised she can marry whomever she wishes. Una dreams of a charming Prince, riding up on a white charger, proclaiming his undying love and devotion. However, when Prince Aethelbald of the mysterious kingdom of Farthestshore, does just that, Una is appalled and threatens to never marry him, ever.
Among her suitors, is Prince Gervais, whom Una is sure is THE one, however, it comes to her father's attention that Gervais has been thrown from his kingdom by his father for gambling debts. He is a cad of the best kind and is only looking for Una's hand for the dowry she would bring.
The Duke of Shippening is old, fat and arrogant and is looking for a young bride to have as a trophy. He cares nothing for Una and only wishes to use her to become king. When the Duke doesn't get his way, he declares war on the kingdom of Parumvir.
Leonard, the jester and court fool, has also won Una's heart and after learning his secrets, she promises to wait for him. However, she comes to learn that he isn't all that he says he is and Una must come to terms with their relationship.
The Dragon King is also on the hunt for Una, he can feel her and needs to make her one of his own. The Dragon King joins forces with the Duke and together, the two wreck havoc, death and destruction on all the kinsmen of Parumvir. Its up to Una's brother Felix, her cat, Monster and the magic of the Goldstone Wood to save the day.
I wasn't un-impressed with the overall story, it has enough mystery and suspense to keep you reading, however, I did have a problem with Una, the heroine. I found her to be whiny, ignorant, naive and childishly head-strong. I think Prince Aethelbald could have taken the time to explain himself to Una, I feel she deserved the truth and not to be lied to nor manipulated. I really enjoyed Felix and Monster, they brought life and comedy to the story and I hope to see more of them in the future books.
I enjoyed the combat scenes, they weren't too graphic in nature, and I feel young readers would probably really enjoy this book~!! It has all the components of a good fantasy novel, including magic, love, combat, dragons, fairy land creatures and so much more. I liked the flow of the story, one doesn't have to backtrack to stay focused, as well, the descriptive aspects of the narrative were well written and imaginative. Each character is believable, except perhaps, The Dragon King, I expected more from him, instead he was a bit stereo-typed and cliched. I'm also unsure why this is labeled as a Christian-fiction, for there was absolutely no mention of God nor were any Christian aesthetics involved. All in all though, the book was a good read and I'm sure YA fantasy lovers will enjoy it and want to read more!