Bring Me Their Hearts
Author: Sara Wolf
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Release date: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Zera is a Heartless—the immortal, unaging 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 Zera’s 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.
I received a free copy for an honest review.
Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf is a story following the absolute savage heroine Zera and her quest to retrieve her humanity by earning back her heart, as well as to try and prevent another catastrophic war between the humans and witches. With such a burden on her shoulders and everything on the line, Zera must make sure everything goes well so that no more lives would have to be lost and ensuring the safety of those that she loves.
I am quite familiar with Sara Wolf’s books, reading several of them before, all of them being modern realistic fiction and contemporary YA books. Even though her previous books honestly never really left an impression (and wasn’t…that good, to be honest), simply because I recognize her when I saw her name, and how she’s giving out ARCs, I still did not hesitate to sign up (even when I actually never read the synopsis).
I recently watched a video about J.K Rowling’s publisher, and how he chooses books for publishing. He said that you typically can always tell if a book is good or not just by the first few chapters, if not the first few pages.
This relates to me so much, because I noticed that whenever I first start with a book, and it did not give me that “adrenaline-rush-you-got-when-you-read-a-good-book”, chances are…that feeling is going to stick with me the entire book. I’m not saying that automatically, it would segregate this book to be a bad one, but I definitely won’t enjoy this book as much as I would’ve liked. In other words, just another typical book.
But this book is a perfect example of what it’s like for reviewers when finally hiting a jackpot with an ARC.
And it is the most congenial experience I can get.
This book is not perfect, and my biggest issues with this book include the relationship pace between Zera and Lucien (which ironically is also what made me love this book so much), and some of the logical story flaws I feel like the author could’ve improved.
I am so pleased with this book because first-and-foremost I haven’t gotten the chance to read an actual hate-love relationship in a very long time, nor a hate-love relationship that is actually this good. So you can imagine why I am so happy that this book came into my life.
Let’s start off with the story and world building. The world building made perfect sense with the storyline. Details down to the cultures, lineages, and history were all clearly understandable and interesting. Oh, and the storyline had exponential suspense, much more than I anticipated (considering the fact that this isn’t even a thriller or horror BOOK).
Now we’ve got that out of the way, I want to discuss my thoughts on the relationships a bit. THIS BOOK SERIES HAD ONE OF THE BEST HATE-LOVE RELATIONSHIP IN I’VE EVER SEEN IN BOOKS (and this also leads to mind-blowingly good chemistry between the two). But as much as I adore Lucien and Zera, and indubitably acknowledge how Sara Wolf did a pristine job in introducing and growing the two’s relationship, I would’ve much more appreciated if Wolf would’ve stretched their relationship a bit longer. In order to not make the book itself too slow, I would’ve recommended Wolf to instead stretch out the series’ arc, instead of the book’s individual story arc. In that way, there can be much more room for Zera and Lucien to slowly develop their relationship. The reason I recommend this specific technique is because first off, I understand that an author should never stretch out the individual books’ story too much if they can, in order to maintain the reader’s attention span, retaining the suspense, and in result keep the adrenaline rush going for the readers.
The storyline should always be going at a corresponding pace with the character (especially romantic) relationships. I strongly emphasize this because if the author doesn’t do this, the book would definitely become a huge disaster. The storyline would be all over the place, and instances such as the story ending first with an incomplete arc would definitely happen, and that is one of the worst things a writer can do to a story. It’s an absolute taboo when it comes to storytelling.
So, in order to stretch out the relationship (so that it can go slower), the story-line must be dragged a bit longer as well. I would’ve savored the relationship a lot more (and appreciated it a lot more) if instead of having Lucien and Zera confessing at the end of the first book, Sara Wolf should’ve had them finally giving in and admitting their feelings at the end of the second book instead. Basically, have them admit that they at least not completely despise (also, very important to still maintain the “hate-love relationship” attitude between them at a bare minimum, to the end of the second book. But I will still recommend continuing it at least to some extent in the third book as well) at the end of the first book instead.
If anyone read this and felt like “oh, but story-line is more important than a relationship”, just keep a mental note a bad relationship definitely will get a mark off with readers (and especially critics) when they’re reading and the reviewing the book. Relationships are a factor of the story, so it will be graded as in how well (or how bad) it contributes to the book’s storyline and purpose.
There are also specific factors in the story that I feel like could be improved, so that it can feel more logical (almost overlooked this because I was so busy enjoying the book. Very sneaky, Sara). For example, this whole “spring bride” thing is kind of the like The Selection book ideas, where the prince is supposed to choose a bride from a group of candidates. Because of this reason, I felt that it’s kind of out of place that you don’t ever see Lincoln interacting with any of the other candidates ever after the first introduction of them to the prince. It also wasn’t like there was no opportunity for the author to put it in. There were plenty of banquets and royal public events to at least put two or three in. Even if the author felt like Lucien would never voluntarily approach the other girls (except for Zera), at least have the girls trying to approach him. Don’t just throw the spring selection out the window the moment it was finish introduced in the begging of the book. It’s a huge part of how the story started, and how Zera got to where she was in the book. Elaborate on it!
*Also, in the beginning, Lucien was (emphasize on) fake flirting with this one girl. Although it was just for a show, how she just completely disappears from entire book…I don’t know what to feel about that. Not a huge problem or deal breaker at all, just something I noticed. *
Speaking of beginning, I want to heavily praise Sara Wolf’s decision on how she started the book. Instead of starting it in classic chronological order, she started first at a very suspenseful scene, then brought us back in time to see what happened, a.k.a back to the beginning.
This idea is not rare at all and is used all the time in movies and books alike. But I still want to praise her for this because it definitely contributed in starting a book off with a bang, and is much more effective in interesting the reader.
The intelligence in the ideas that the book talked about was surprisingly clever and deep. For example, Lady Y’shennria’s initial talk about the power of clothing and appearance was serendipitously intuitive, especially when she made the point of Zera never doubt if Lady Y’shennria was actually who she said she was when they first met. Accentuating the power of assumption, Lady Y’shennria made the point of how the more sumptuous you look, the fewer people would doubt you position no matter who you are.
I cannot give Sara Wolf props for the puns in this book regarding “wanting the heart”. There were so many instances where the person asked “why are you here” to Zera, and she would always answer “I want the prince’s heart”. I laughed so hard at these jokes too.
Basically, Bring Me Their Heart was a story with a great and interesting idea that can only become such a good book because the author executed it so successfully (which would’ve really been a shame if the book was wasted by bad execution, this book has huge protentional if you weren’t able to tell from my review at this point).
I cannot, cannot recommend this book stronger and I am now to fans of fantasy, the trope of prince falling with a commoner, and hate-love relationship especially. Also, if you really miss the good humor in books and want to have a good laugh, this book would be the one for you too.
Sara Wolf, if you’re reading this, I just want to let you know that you have exceeded my expectation indefinitely and that you really surprised me with how much I enjoyed this book. I can not thank you enough for providing me such an experience. I am astounded (and shaken to the core right now I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH).
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as Lovely Vicious. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.