Next up: “Heartstone” by Elle Katharine White
This was a library-find. A very ‘meh’ retelling of Pride and Prejudice.
This is exactly what it says on the tin: A retelling of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” in a fantasy setting.
The Riders are a group of elite soldiers tasked with dealing with the threats to the kingdom posed by creatures such as gryphons, lamias, and lindworms. Only the most worthy are chosen by a dragon or wyvern to become partners and companions.
Lord Merybourne hires a group of Riders to take care of a horde of gryphons that have invaded his lands. Aliza Bentaine is relieved to hear the news; she had already lost one sister to the creatures. But she is dismayed when she meets the Dragon Rider Alistair Daired and discovers that he is arrogant and unkind. Their circumstances continue to force them into each others’ company, as Aliza and her sister are recruited to guide Daired and the other Riders through Merybourne’s lands to the forest the gryphons have invaded. What follows is a battle of wits, a surprise romance, and a mystery that resolves to reveal that the kingdom is under a larger threat than simply a score of gryphons.
Okay, so my summary is a little generous with the last line. The story is so completely faithful to the events in “Pride and Prejudice” that any alteration to the narrative is paper-thin and only mildly interesting. Truth be told, this book was rather a disappointment.
I picked “Heartstone” up because it was a retelling, and I’m generally up for giving them a go. Also, it had dragons and a man named Alistair in it (that is such a good name, I love that name). It started off pretty good, with an obvious solid base in Austen’s novel, and the makings of an interesting take on it with the addition of the fantasy elements. The author makes an interesting use of the old idea of ‘heartstones’. But unfortunately, the fantasy is only a superficial skin over top a mediocre “Pride and Prejudice” retelling. The book is too faithful to Austen’s work, offering up a formulaic slough through the same characters and same events. “Heartstone” doesn’t offer up anything truly unique, doesn’t take a chance to change much of anything about the original story to make it new. It doesn’t have the nuance of Austen’s work, either.
I would have like this book a lot more if the author had taken more of a hand in creating her own plot. I wanted more than a book entirely made up of recreated scenes from the classic.