Author: NANCE NEWMAN
Publication Date: DECEMBER 13, 2018
In the Adirondack Mountains, the forests are dying by the hand of a demon whose only purpose is the destruction of the natural world. Within the high peaks of Adirondacks, a magical edifice, Heartwood, appears yet remains hidden from the world. Inhabited by the descendants of an ancient race who have been protecting the natural world since the beginning of their existence, they will wait for the next true Xylem who is the only one powerful enough to fight the demon. The battle will soon begin. Heartwood weaves legend into reality as the world’s ecosystem is threatened by supernatural demons.
Elathea is a typical teenager whose parents can no longer keep the family secret from her—that she is a descendant of an ancient race of women whose legend says only one progeny every hundred years or more will have the powers needed to face the nature’s magical enemies. As her powers begin to emerge, they can no longer deny her destiny. They send her to Heartwood to learn about who she is and what she must do. Only Ela doesn’t want the job. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice.
This is the first magical realism book I ever read. It was totally an excellent book, it doesn’t disappoint at all which I’m glad for. This is a story of a young girl who inherited a magical gift that had a connection with nature and a descendant of her mother’s heritage, who went through a very long journey to reach her true potential as the protector of nature.
It was a lot to take in for a 16-year-old Ela—who dreamed of going to high school, meeting her crush and live a normal life—to learn about her true identity as a true Xylem, and also learning about a demon who is hell-bent on destroying nature. She had a huge responsibility for a teenager and I can’t imagine how tough it must’ve been for her. Despite all the unbelievable things that she learned and did, she finally accepted her fate.
Ela can be a bit stubborn and easily frustrated, but as the story goes on, she was maturing slowly and become wiser than she was before. All of this brought her character development to another whole new level. She received a better development later on in the story which made me see her character from a totally different and new perspective. The problem she was facing in the story is quite dangerous and too heavy for her, but she was a strong and brave young woman who aren’t afraid of any threats and always ready for a battle.
As for Tavon, he was one of the people who taught Ela how to fight and how to prepare herself in all situation in case the villain caught her off guard. He’s strong, wiser, and always be there for Ela. It was his job as the Amaranth Ranger to protect her because of what she really is. I enjoyed Tavon’s character throughout the whole story. His character remained the same, the consistency was there. He was so helpful, even though he and Ela often argued but he never abandon her. This man has been through a lot, and I respect him for what he did and for what he contributed to the story.
Moving on to the villain, Urxehl aka the demon. Well, it has always been hard for most authors to get the villain right in this type of story, but the author of this book excel in writing a villainous character. Urxehl brought terror into the story. His sinister agenda made him ten times more dangerous, and I was terrified for Ela and everyone who tried protecting her. His power alone was terrifying enough to scare me as a reader. Learning what made him like that and what type of power he possessed only opens up more insight on his character and it does help me understand his motive.
This book was an excellent magical realism story which truly surprised me. There are so many interesting characters—both the good ones and also the evil ones. It was a unique story with an interesting and engaging plot. The whole concept of Heartwood was so unique and different from most fantasy stories. The importance of nature played a huge part in the story and I loved that the author brought up this subject and mixed it with magical elements. I’m looking forward to see what the author has in store for the hero and the heroine of the story in the sequel since they still has a lot of things to do. Also, I hope the author will explore more about Tavon’s relationship with Ela and see where it will lead them.