“Once upon a time…
A plague sweeps across the emerald hills of UÍ NÉill, leaving a young midwife’s father with months to live. To save her people, Sorcha makes a deal with a dangerous Fae. She must travel across the sea, through merrow and kelpie lands, to find a forgotten king on a crumbling throne.
Born king of the Seelie Fae, Eamonn fought battles unnumbered to uphold honor, duty, and freedom… until his twin brother sank a blade between his shoulders. Crystals grew from the wound, splitting open skin and bone. His people banished him to a cursed isle for his disfigurement, now king of criminals and fools.
With the help of brownies, pixies, and will-o’-the-wisps, Sorcha battles to break through his crystalline shell and persuade him to take back his stolen throne.
This determined beauty could come dangerously close to stealing his beastly heart.”
It’s hard to know which is better, the fairytale or the fairytale retelling! Set in a fantastical world inspired by Ireland, Heart of the Fae follows Sorcha, a midwife and healer who lives in the town brothel operated by her sisters and father, who is close to death from a plague of blood beetles. (Let me tell you – this disease is EXACTLY what it sounds like, and it’s rough.)
Unable to cure the plague, Sorcha turns to the fae for help, and strikes a deal with a pair of fairy twins. To bring back a fairy prince from his banishment, in exchange for a cure that will surely save the life of her father and countless others.
I found Sorcha a proactive, likable female lead who doesn’t suffer fools gladly yet is particularly empathetic, especially when faced with a scared, non-verbal brownie. No, not the edible kind, the fairy kind. Although, I will admit the very word will make you want to grab a snack. She is well connected to the fae, but she is still a little naive when dealing with them. Sorcha’s determination to save her family and the other innocent victims of the blood beetles has us wishing to travel through the hard times ahead with her.
The Beauty and the Beast connections are fairly obvious in this book, with a disfigured, banished prince confined to a castle full of creatures not like himself, to have a strong-willed young woman enter his life at just the right time. The Irish take on this fairytale is a wonderful inclusion, and the magic is far more pronounced than in the original, in a way that really sucks us in. But be warned, Heart of the Fae is not the child-friendly classic with spine-tingling romance and a generous sex scene.
When I look back on reading this book, I realise that there wasn’t actually a lot of action, but instead plenty of suspense. While in the throes of this book, it’s difficult to tell! Heart of the Fae is definitely a page-turner, but also one of those books that niggles at you to pick it up again when you haven’t read it for a few hours. With little to give away the ending, despite being a fairytale retelling, this book intrigues us with enough mystery to keep us reading.
What surprised me the most was the deeper psychological elements of this book explored in the character Eammon, or as the fairytale might describe him – the beast. This retelling delves further into the self-loathing and depression of the banished prince than the original, and gives us more to make us feel connected, and empathetic to this character.
The only thing that knocked this book down from a five star to a four is the ending. While not an entirely unsatisfying finish, Sorcha is torn away from a climax that neither she nor the readers get to see, and I have to admit, I was disappointed.
A fluid narrative, excellent character introspection, and a great deal of mystery made Heart of the Fae a fantastic read, that I can truly recommend. Plus, book two is also available now, so we can find out what happens to Sorcha, Eammon and Sorcha’s family.
Heart of the Fae is available on Amazon in e-book, audiobook and hardcover formats. While the hardcover is a tad overpriced, there are lots of pre-loved hardbacks available for less – and who doesn’t love a good hardback book?
If you’ve already had the pleasure of reading this book and are looking for the sequel – look no further!
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