Into the Heartless Wood
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Publisher: Page Street Kids (January 12, 2021)
Hardcover, 368 pages
Fantasy, YA Fantasy
The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths. For centuries, a witch has harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow her domain.
When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her.
Oh my gosh, this book is so beautiful. It’s a gender-swapped Beauty and the Beast story, but also gave me some The Little Mermaid vibes – but with lots of scary murder forest thrown in there too. This dark fantasy is the first book I’ve read by Joanna Ruth Meyer, but it sure won’t be the last!
I liked this book so much I’m not even sure where to start with talking about it. Owen has grown up in a house that sits right next to the Gwydden’s Wood – a forbidden forest where the tree-siren daughters of the Gwydden lure people to their death and capture their souls to feed the Wood. By day Owen takes care of his little sister, and by night he helps his astronomer father chart the stars for the king. One day he… uh… meets… the Gwydden’s youngest daughter, and the tree-siren recognizes some spark in his soul and lets him go free. Thus the seeds of an unlikely relationship are planted. And I really can’t say more because I don’t want to spoil anything!
The language in this book is just so beautiful. It’s at the same time ethereal and horrifying; brambles and bracken and songs and stardust. If you like dark fantasy, fantasy romance, or fairy tales with a darker twist, this book is for you.
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.