Published by Entangled: Teen on June 5, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, 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 her 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 him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until 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.
A snarky heroine who’s battling a darker side within her, a forbidden romance that has excellent banter, and in general hilarious dialogue that’ll make you smile… what’s not to like about Bring Me Their Hearts?
The character that really sold me on this story is Zera, a helper of a witch who has her heart entrapped – and with that, her mortality. The book starts off with her setting on a mission to participate in this ritual where the crown prince chooses a girl to marry. Her mission? To get his heart so the witches can use him as leverage in their ongoing war against the kingdom. It’s a pretty interesting foundation that sets a darker tone. But Zera has pretty funny (and sometimes inappropriate) wit that casts a lighter atmosphere of the book that will definitely appeal to young and older audiences alike.
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.
So Zera shows up at court under the guise of being a “long-lost relative” of a noble sympathetic to the witch’s cause, and manages to capture the prince from the very beginning. Now the prince himself is a pretty generic character. Lucien finds the court tedious and does not want to become like his bitter father, full of hatred against the witches and anyone who sympathizes with their gods. Because of this and his do-good heart, he’s drawn to Zera and her impetuous, yet caring ways. They have some pretty excellent banter, and I honestly think she can do way better than him, but since he’s a prince and all, I guess he’s the best there is. Anyway, I’m onboard with the whole forbidden love aspect, since she’s there to steal his heart while he’s there to make small rebellions against his father and court politics.
She is young. She is terrified. She is playing dress-up. She is playing a very dangerous game.
She is Heartless.
Like I said, Zera’s character really shines in this book, although I’m sure we’ll discover more about Lucien in the next one. Zera comes into court with no allies in the beginning – not even her patron. But her will in reclaiming her heart (the prize if she succeeds in her mission) is strong. This is further galvanized by the fact that the other Heartless kids under the wings of Nightbringer, her witch, will also have their hearts freed. Soon enough though, she finds herself developing feelings for this kind prince who may actually be more sympathetic to the witch’s cause than they think, and plans start to change.
The shining relationship for me was between Zera and her patron, Y’shennria. Y’shennria’s life was pretty much ruined by the war against witches and the Heartless, so she was very wary with Zera when they first meet. However, this wariness grows into hesitant trust and even a mother-daughter-like relationship that really warmed my heart. Y’shennria teaches Zera the goings of court, as well as pushes her character to new boundaries.
‘Fight with everything you have, everything you are. Everything that is left of you – battle with it. Fight by the moonlight, the starlight, whatever faded hope you can find at any moment – cling to it. Embrace the smallest of lights, and never stop fighting.’
Bring Me To Their Hearts is one of the few YA fantasy books that feature a fat heroine (in which her lush figure is mentioned several times) without having a subplot about her losing weight or even caring much about it at all. I only wish the cover, as pretty as it is, showed that! (Seriously, kudos to that artist because that smirk is the perfect depiction of Zera’s character. But the rest of her body doesn’t reflect what’s written in the pages.) I still appreciate seeing it in text – especially Zera’s clever response when a girl tried to insult her by calling her fat!
I really enjoyed Bring Me Their Hearts, and can’t wait to see what the next book has in store. There’s a pretty killer cliffhanger (hah, see what I did) following a rather brutal climax that will have readers’ eyes glued on the pages. I know mine were. Wolf writes with a snarky voice that keeps the dialogue fun, even when the plot and action can get slow at times. While I wanted more for the foundation of a romance, I have high hopes we see it developed in the second book. I would definitely recommend this book to fantasy readers! I would also highlight that the world-building is pretty minimal, but the plot focuses more on the character introspection and actions that accumulate from it, rather than anything setting-wise. Other than that, Zera’s character development and resilience is refreshing enough to make me want more!
Content/Trigger Warnings: brutal violence, blood/gore
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you Entangled Teen for the review copy!