Fantasy-lovers, unite! “Into the Heartless Wood” is about to jump to the top of your reading list.
At the beginning of the year, I read “Echo North,” a truly unique and impactful tale by Joanna Ruth Meyer. I immediately fell in love with her writing style and gobbled up everything she had released. (You can find all these reviews on my Goodreads). When she announced a new story in the works, filled with tree sirens and astronomers, I squealed with excitement.
I was truly lucky to win an advanced reader copy of “Into the Heartless Wood“, before its official release in January 2021. I read the book nearly a month before writing this, but I have been slowly working on my review over time because it has meant so much to me, and I wanted to do it justice.
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What I Thought About “Into the Heartless Wood”
Below, you can find the Goodreads synopsis, along with my honest review of the book.
Epic, heartbreaking, and darkly atmospheric, Into the Heartless Wood is the story of impossible love between a monstrous tree siren and a boy who lives at the edge of her wood.
The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths. For centuries, a witch has harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow her domain.
When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her.
“Something calls out to him. I am different than I was. I do not want my mother’s song, my mother’s souls. I want – I do not know. But I want something more than the death that she offers me. I want something more than her voice, her power. I want something more. I want something mine.”Into the Heartless Wood
I waited two days to write a review after finishing the book and I still found myself somewhat speechless. I wasn’t sure Joanna Meyer could top her novel, “Echo North” – but this story was something truly spectacular. If I could give a book more than five stars, I would do so for this one in a heartbeat.
I sat on my bed after reading the last pages, unsure of what to think or feel. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so deeply affected by a fantasy novel (or any novel, for that matter). I had to just sit in silence and allow the emotions to wash over me. I fought back tears for the last third of the story.
Haunting. Breathtaking. Soul-shattering. Those are a few of the words I could use to describe this book. The character development is beautiful (even down to the chapter headings changing for Seren as the story goes on). It’s a true roller coaster of emotions as you fall in love with the characters and the characters fall in love with each other. There is such depth to this story, and I’ll never really get over it.
I had the worst book hangover of my life after I completed it. Not a single story I started could even compete with this poetic masterpiece.
Clearly, I was deeply affected by this book, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I will also say that Joanna Meyer is one of my favorite authors of all time. One of the things she does best is write a story that’s never been told before. Though “Into the Heartless Wood” is described as a gender-swapped retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it’s definitely something much more than that. The same can be said of everything she writes. I hope that my review encourages you to pick it up for yourself this coming winter.