A young baby escapes death and ends up being taken in by a royal family in the Heartless Prince by Leigh Dragoon. The young baby blossoms into a young girl named Evony who has a crush on Prince Ammon. Before she can confess her feelings to him, the walls of the palace are breached. Two creatures called familiars breakthrough and begin attacking. Familiars look like tall trees with jagged teeth. The branches in their hands can extend out and impale someone. Evony leaps into battle and with her weapons cut them down to size. Later on, Prince Ammon reveals to Evony that he has a plan to deal with the familiars. He wants to take matters into his own hands and hunt them all down. The consequences of the Prince’s decision will lead Evony on a journey to save him and the kingdom.

Right off the bat, Evony is thrust into battle in the opening pages of the book. It makes for an exciting beginning and the action scenes are well-drawn. The pacing of the story goes at an accelerated pace. Story beats that would normally play out in several volumes are wrapped up in several pages. The ending leaves the door open for a sequel, but there are other threads that I was far more interested in. Ebony’s past as an orphan gets dangled in front of the reader, but is never fully resolved. Most of the time is spent on the mission to save the Prince, and it’s not clear why Evony is so smitten with him. He doesn’t exhibit any qualities other than he wants to save the kingdom.

Most of the creatures and witches encountered in the story feel like they could have come from the imagination of Guillermo Del Toro. One of the main witches Evony encounters has her eyes covered and wears a thorny crown. In the woods, she stumbles on a moose creature that is tall and scrawny. He has a puffy coat around his neck and antlers that are longer than his body. He makes snappy quips and interjects humor in every scene. I loved the winter landscape with little touches of snow flurries and snowflakes that made you feel as if you are there. The humans are all generic, their facial features are drawn similarly with the only changes being hair color. 

In conclusion, while I found Heartless Prince to be too fast-paced, I found there were many elements I enjoyed. I liked having a plucky heroine who can fight and dares to stand up to danger. I loved the scenes that took place in the forest that made it seem sinister at times, but also is a place where magical creatures dwell. The story does feature some violent scenes with hearts ripped out and beheadings. I would recommend this book for those that are 13+

Heartless Prince
By Leigh Dragoon
Art by  Angela De Vito
Abrams, 2021
ISBN: 9781368028356

Publisher Age Rating: T

NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)

  • Tanya

    | She/Her

    Tanya work as a librarian at a maximum security prison in Northern California. She runs a weekly book club which changes themes and genres on a quarterly basis. Her favorite book club moment was watching her book club members perform a play in front of an audience and getting a warm ovation. Tanya is a long-time lover of Manga and animes. Her favorites include anything by Clamp, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wolf Children, Pandora Hearts and Dawn of the Arcana. In her spare time enjoys trying out new recipes from Pinterest.

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