Into the Heartless Wood

Page Street. Jan. 2021. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781645671701.
Gr 9 Up–This book takes readers into a world of fantasy mixed with 19th-century technology. Meyer tells the story from two perspectives, Owen Merrick and Seren. Owen lives near the wood—the wood that killed his mother. Legend has it that a witch charmed the trees to harvest souls for her heartless tree. It is dangerous to go near the wood, and there’s an unmistakable magic that takes people who dare to step foot there. Yet Owen finds himself in the wood, against his father’s will, to spend time with a tree siren named Seren. Seren has a tumultuous past that intertwines with Owen’s, but she still wants to be with him. Written in the stars is yet another prophecy of the Soul Eater, while a war is raging on between the king and witch. Will Owen and Seren be able to find their happy ending? The beginning of this fantasy starts strong, with Owen’s perspective written in prose and Seren’s voice written in free verse. The story easily catches readers up with the fantasy world and its history, yet compels them to find out more. Readers will easily anticipate the outcome, but it comes to a slow and overly-complicated ending. Secondary human characters have a range of skin tones, though Owen’s is unspecified.
VERDICT A captivating fantasy story that takes readers on a journey, yet leaves them hanging in the end.

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