HEARTSTONE - Elle Katharine White
Harper Voyager
ISBN: 9780062451941
ISBN 10: 0062451944
January 2017

Arle, an Imaginary Island

Aliza is one of five sisters living at Merybourne Manor where her father is the manor clerk and long-time friend of the lord. Recently Aliza found her youngest sister's mutilated body in a nearby field. A gryphon had killed Rina. This event led to Lord Merybourne hiring Riders to rid the area of these ferocious creatures. Through her father, Aliza knows that the cost of the contract hiring the Riders puts the manor deeply into dept. By chance, the first Rider Aliza meets is Daired, who rides the dragon Akarra. He is from the highest order of Riders. She notices the red heartstone in his sword, a stone from a lamia he had killed, one of the Oldfolk enemies of humans. Daired is abrupt, disrespectful, but very handsome. His presence means he signed the Merybourne contract for far less than a Rider of his status would normally accept.

Alastair Daired has come to support his friend Cedric Brysney, who rides the wyvern Silverwing, and Charis, Brysney's sister. Not too long ago, the brother and sister killed the Lesser Lindworm, an epic event, and Daired acts as moral support as the battle also killed Charis's wyvern. Nerissa Ruthven, another wyvern Rider, and her husband, a beoryn Rider, also came to fight the gryphons.

HEARTSTONE is a novel where the stories of Tolkien and Austen intertwine. Monster creatures of the lamias, banshees, direwolves, and gryphons are Tekari, or Oldfolk who are sworn enemies of humans, while dragons, wyverns, and beoryns help humans fight these foes. These mythological characters help establish the Tolkien-like ties in the fantasy setting of Arle. Both main characters also face horrific challenges in the fantasy style, while the plotline, romance, and human characters are tied to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice . While there are similarities, this novel takes many divergent pathways and provides fascinatingly different results.

As an aficionado of both authors, I found this read compellingly interesting both in the romantic Regency-era style and in the suspense-filled fantasy category; however, Austen enthusiasts might not find it so, nor might those who have only read Tolkien. It is a story in and of itself with remarkable characters who are hauntingly familiar yet strikingly different, as is the story line. The story, of course, made me compare the characters to their counterparts, but I was surprised in their very believable alterations and pleased with their outcomes. HEARTSTONE is a captivating story filled with epic events and recognizable but transformed characters, and it is an overall enjoyable read.

Robin Lee