Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Heartless. Bethany House Publishers, 2010. See here to buy the book.
This book won a Christy Award for a first-time novel. It is a work
of Christian fantasy. It is also the first book in the Tales of
Goldstone Wood series.
The book is about a princess named Una, who has a bunch of suitors.
She finds one of them to be boring, even though he has a noble spirit.
In the course of the book, she is escorted out of the kingdom by a
Dragon King—-a dragon who can appear as a human being—-and he makes it
so that she turns into a dragon. He leads an entire cult of dragon
people, who are afraid of him. The princess is taken as part of an
agreement between the Dragon King and a duke, who wants the kingdom of
Una’s father. Una comes to be disappointed with some of her suitors,
but the one she rejected helps her. Another character is a cat named
Monster, who actually talks in an earlier scene in the book, but that is
not referenced again—-though, at the end, some character whom people
vaguely recognize says something to Monster. Maybe we learn more about
Monster later in the series! Let me say this, though: I liked Monster
better when he was acting as a cat than when he was speaking his
As I said, the book got a Christy Award. So did the sequel, if
memory serves me correctly. Most of the reviews of the book on Amazon
were rave reviews. But the book simply did not interest me. I finished
it. It was actually a quick read. It was just not a fit for me. The
Lynn Austin books that won Christy Awards swept me off my feet. This
one did not.
Maybe I missed something, and the book is like the suitor whom Una
rejected, and I missed its beauty. I don’t know. Maybe the problem is
that I am not too keen on stories about suitors talking all formally.
In that case, I shouldn’t read Jane Austen, right? But I sort of liked
the Jane Austen movies that I have seen. Maybe I was hoping for more
depth about the Dragon Prince. I was also hoping for more religion and
spirituality, but perhaps those things were there and I missed them.
Right now, I cannot think of any part of the book that really spoke to
me. Well, then again, like the rejected suitor, some people may see me
as rather stiff and drab, and I am somewhat happy that the underdog won
in the end. But, in terms of spiritual lessons or themes I found
compelling? I can’t think of any.
Will I read any other books in the series? I will not rule that
out. There have been times when I did not like the first book of a
series, but really enjoyed the second book. We’ll see!