Dragonshadow (Heartstone #2) by Elle Katharine White

dragonDragonshadow is the second book in the Heartstone series by Elle Katharine White and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The first book was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice but with dragons and other fantastical beasts.  It was a great start to the series and one that took me by surprise as retellings can be a little hit or miss especially when they’re using a favourite classic as inspiration.  As it is Heartstone was a definite hit for me and so you can imagine how happy I was when I caught a whiff of No.2.

To be honest, I think I liked this book even more than the first although that hardly seems possible. Whereas the first book felt a little restricted by the Pride and Prejudice storyline and the author’s clear desire to stick to it as much as is possible in a fantasy setting, this book is able to ‘be itself’ to throw off any such restrictions and really come into its own.

The world building was good in the first book but with this instalment we get to travel much further afield when Alastair takes on a job at a remote castle on the Northern Border.  As the story begins Alastair and Aliza are enjoying a peaceful and romantic honeymoon when their time is interrupted by a rider from Castle Selwyn.  It seems that the castle is being targeted for attack by an unknown monster – the latest is the disappearance of a young girl from the castle. Alastair accepts the job but it seems that Aliza has some decisions of her own to make.

So, I love that the story has moved into its own territory now.  Aliza and Alistair are married and this is unfamiliar ground for both of them.  Alistair is a Rider, bonded to a dragon, Riders have a certain status and much like in Pride and Prejudice Aliza’s family is quite far removed in many people’s opinions.  Of course Aliza and Alistair are at the pink tinted glasses stage – okay they’re in love –  of their relationship but nonetheless they’re also both positioning themselves and trying to find their feet in terms of the future and this theme plays an important part in the story.  Aliza isn’t ready to become Alistair’s housekeeper and stay behind every time he flies into danger, let’s face it, she played a rather pivotal role in the war in the previous book, but Alistair doesn’t want Aliza to face danger, he has a point, she isn’t trained to fight and it means his attention will be split.  But, Aliza wins the battle to accompany Alistair on his most recent job.  To be honest, they both need to find their feet and fast.

On top of the character development there is plenty going on in the world.  It seems that somebody is paying an inordinate amount of attention to heartstones and also there are stirrings in the wild.  Things are roaming.  I don’t really want to go into what’s really taking place but Alistair’s and Aliza’s travels across the Old Wilds of Arle are beset by attacks, almost like they’re being followed.  Upon reaching the slightly eerie and ghost like Castle of Selwyn things escalate.  Ghosts of the past seem to come knocking on their door.  Things definitely take a creepy turn and the setting really helps to enhance that.  Mists, cliffs, dark waters, a castle with underground tunnels and secret passageways.  Lots of different creatures, centaurs and merpeople and so much more.  I’m not going to go further into the plot but more discuss the things that really stood out for me.

The expansion of the world and the people and fantastic creatures that dwell in it.  This is so well done and I loved it. Aliza really is the main character and she plays an almost detective role here, asking questions and coming up with suggestions while Alistair is roaming the place looking for beasts.  Aliza has really developed.  She wants to learn, she wants to help but more than that she has a sympathetic nature which almost makes a bridge between the humans and the beasts.  I think this is something that could really develop and I enjoyed this aspect of the story and in particular the connection that Aliza seems to forge with Akarra.

Overall, I loved this.  The plot is good, the character arcs are developing well and the world building has been strengthened.

I can’t wait to read more.

I received a copy through Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Dragonshadow (Heartstone #2) by Elle Katharine White

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Dragonshadow (Heartstone #2) by Elle Katharine White.  Not going to lie – I was jumping up and down when I saw this one because Heartstone was so damned good.  Austen and dragons.  Why, yes, thank you very much. *dances a happy dance*

dragonshadow.jpgThe author of Heartstone once again infuses elements of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic in this addictive fantasy that brings back sparring lovers Aliza and Alastair: fierce warriors who match wits, charm, and swords as they fight an epic war to save their world.

The Battle of North Fields is over—or so Aliza Bentaine, now a Daired, fervently wants to believe. But rumors are spreading of an unseen monster ravaging the isolated Castle Selwyn on the northern border of the kingdom. When she and Alastair are summoned from their honeymoon by the mysterious Lord Selwyn, they must travel with their dragon Akarra through the Tekari-infested Old Wilds of Arle to answer his call.

And they are not alone on this treacherous journey. Shadowing the dragonriders is an ancient evil, a harbinger of a dark danger of which the Worm was only a foretaste. And soon Aliza realizes the terrible truth: the real war is only beginning.

Due for publication November 2018