Wednesday, January 6, 2021

ARC Review: Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Title: Into the Heartless Wood
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads
Amazon |

Epic, heartbreaking, and darkly atmospheric, Into the Heartless Wood is the story of impossible love between a monstrous tree siren and a boy who lives at the edge of her wood.

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.

Into the Heartless Wood is the fourth book by Joanna Ruth Meyer I have read and it has cemented her place on my all time favorite authors shelf. I did not realize going into it that this story was a bit of a genderbent Beauty and the Beast, but the connection is obvious after reading the author's note and it makes it even more perfect. To be frank, I will eagerly read anything this author writes.

This book begins with Owen, a boy who lives on the edge of a dangerous wood where no one else will venture. He loves his mother's music and his father's stars. Owen's father is the king's astrologist, which necessitates their living arrangements. His mother was lost to the witch's wood years before, led to her death by one of the witch's vicious tree sirens. Owen has never risked coming to the same fate until he comes face to face with one siren who is nothing like he expects.

Everything about this book was perfect. I loved Owen and Seren. Their relationship was incredible and heartbreaking and lovely. Joanna Ruth Meyer always layers her stories with so much atmosphere and emotion, and twists and turns, of course. Her books always follow a formula that I've come to anticipate and love. They begin with a story that seemingly wraps up about halfway through the book, but it always leads to something much more grand and unexpected. I love the scale and heart each of her books has.

This book was a bit darker than the author's others, but that's exactly what I expected from a story about brutal tree sirens and a dark wood witch. There is violence and death and blood, but also love and hope. The writing is lyrical and reminiscent of a fairy tale, albeit a very dark one.

I do not believe Joanna's books are for everyone, but they are tailor made for me and I cannot wait to see what she writes next. If you're looking for an atmospheric, lyrical, dark fairy tale with forbidden friendships and magic, do not miss this book!