Heartstone by Elle Katherine White
Historically, I’ve always been skeptical of Pride and Prejudice or anything by Jane Austen being sequel-ized or remade, though I’ve started to realize that it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. I do enjoy some Austen adaptations—but it’s more about treatment and approach than fidelity to the story. Sometimes, a cracking good Austen adaptation is about how you transmute the story’s major ideas into a totally different world and create something that’s a nod to the original while giving us a new story with new ideas. I’m pleased to report that Elle Katherine White’s Heartstone fits that model.
Aliza Bentaine lives in a quasi-feudal world where gryphons have descended upon the land and attacked innocent creatures and people—including one of her beloved sisters. Riders have been hired to ward off and weed out the gryphons at Merybourne Manor, including the haughty Alistair Dairead. Aliza is put off by Dairead’s manner, but she soon realizes that the problems about to face the world are much larger than she or Dairead can even begin to understand. The survival of their very world is at stake. This is a novel that is both lighthearted and heavy, with a serious and heavy thread at the end.
This is a thrilling and suspenseful story, with some terrifically plotted worldbuilding. White also adores Pride and Prejudice, you can tell, because she treats so many plot points with respect and complexity. The Charlotte Lucas counterpart, for example, receives a great deal of empathy. And the point where Aliza goes to see Dairead’s manor is also terrific, because it sparkles with the tension that we all thrill to in the original. As I said in a Goodreads status update, White captures the moment where Elizabeth is past hate but not quite realizing she’s falling in love, so well. We the audience know it, but Elizabeth/Aliza doesn’t, and it’s thrilling. If you like Jane Austen and fantasy/romance, you’ll probably find this enjoyable, too.