In the kingdom of Amaranyllis, only the princesses have the power to control the errant magic constantly threatening to cross over from the boundary of fairie. But the princess is lost; hidden from a curse with the desperate hope that she will become the salvation of their kingdom.
She cannot, however, elude her destiny. Aribella must take her rightful place and contend with the dangers hidden in royal life. Beyond the unpredictable fairie storms inside the palace; behind political treachery; in the midst of suitors and the perils of falling in love, there lies a secret that could be her undoing...
Stories have pretty much always consumed Annie's life. She enjoys films, devours books and can watch three full seasons of tv in a good four day weekend. This has given rise to the belief among her nephews that she is the foremost authority on all things super hero, fantasy and sci fi.
While she lived in LA she worked in tv and film production and, oddly enough, learned to write fairy tales. She began writing her own fairy tale because she still believes in a world of gallant heroes, where princesses are not frivolous things and honor is not for the faint of heart.
This is a beautifully written book. I've never read a story with fairies like this before. They're not the tiny, fluttering around kind of fairies. They're more humanlike and mysterious. I really liked that it's a unique world overall. Plus the world building is woven into the story so it's very good and not distracting.
The best part of this book, though, are the characters. There were moments in the beginning where I was waiting for the story to kick into a high gear a little faster But even then I enjoyed reading it because I loved the characters so quickly. They were funny and it was such a natural portrayal of a family dynamic. Then when it got to the palace I couldn't put the book down!
I loved Bion. But then there's all this stuff happening that I don't want to spoil. Let's just say it was beautiful and it was full of angst. It was awesome. I liked, also, that the side characters were fleshed out. Each had their own personality and their part to contribute to the story and they were a lot of fun.
Aribella is a great heroine. She's strong and has her moments of being fierce. But I like that she isn't a one dimensional "strong girl." She has moments of doubting herself or being afraid. She wants things she can't have. But she never lets any of those doubts or disappointments break her. She has a lot of people that love her and support her and it's obvious that those people in her life make her stronger. I think she was a great portrayal of a princess in a way that a lot of people don't think of princesses. She wasn't soft and sweet and frilly. But she also wasn't tough and all I can save myself. She was more just honest and an interesting character.
I was surprised at all the little philosophical moments embedded in the story. They're not distracting or preachy but it definitely has some interesting things to say about fear. And about nobility. I liked that it made me think a little but is really just a fun book to read. It's definitely better than some of the YA books I've read that are traditionally published.
I didn't know until I went to write this review that this was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I'd honestly label it an original fairy tale. There were parts of this I really liked such as Aribella having siblings and parents alive. So often in YA we get the MC alone or missing a family member. It sounds like she had a good childhood and lots of love.
I didn't like how easily she moved on from them though. That was hard. And I know it was explained as her adjusting, but that's still something that I struggled with.
I liked Bion a lot and really didn't know why he wasn't the immediate choice for a suitor. I mean, they had planned on making him king. He had connections, political savvy, people respected him, etc. He was the obvious choice and yet for some reason he wasn't on the list. I didn't get that.
I would've liked to feel more that Aribella was fighting the mage. Instead it felt like she just wasn't winning at all and then BAM she was doing great.
There's a lot of beautiful moments to this story and overall I really enjoyed it.
The prologue of this book sucked me right in and I instantly knew I was in for something special. I have to admit I haven't read high fantasy in ages, so I had to get used to the writing style at first. In chapter one, there were so many characters with so many different names (not all of them everyday names, of course) that I lost track of who was who and why I should care every once in a while. Having said that, I love the way the author did her worldbuilding - it was never too much, no info-dump on how the magic worked. Instead, we gradually discover things about Aribella's world by seeing it through her eyes. This book reminds me of old-fashioned fairytales I used to read, and sometimes it wasn't entirely clear if this was meant to be middle-grade or young adult. Actually, it doesn't matter that much. It's just a really well-written book with deep characters and poetic descriptions that kept me entertained throughout. (*I received a free copy from the author for review purposes*)
Full disclosure: I’ve gotten to know Annie pretty well since she is a frequent blog commenter. She didn’t know I bought her book, or that I was reading it, or that I was posting this review. (Sorry Annie!) I’m probably a little biased, but I wouldn’t be publicly reviewing it had I not really, really liked "Tattered Heart".
1. "Tattered Heart" is a fabulously loose and original retelling.
Honestly, you can read the book without even thinking it’s a retelling. It’s only when you think about it with the story of Sleeping Beauty as a backdrop that you really think, “Okay, yeah, I see it.” Then it becomes obvious but not overpowering. If you just go into the story blindly, it’s original all on its own.
Aribella never falls on a spindle or suffers a curse because of failed christening decorum. Instead, her particular enemy and how she must overcome them aren’t quite clear until you’re more than halfway through the novel. As the Princess of the kingdom, Aribella is a barrier between the world of humans and the world of fairie. Her words and her feelings affect the way the magic of fairie interacts with our world. If she’s melancholy, it might rain in the Great Hall, for example. She has to be careful of every world she speaks and learn to use her magic to help the kingdom prosper, giving her great deal more responsibilities than Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, ever would have had, and they have real, immediate consequences if she lets her temper get the best of her.
"Tattered Heart" is almost entirely character-driven. Because Jackson puts such real stresses on Aribella, it also makes sense that she’s far more developed and strong than Aurora, and that the plot advances as she comes into her own in the kingdom. Aribella is THE active character in the story. There are other players, but ultimately, everything is up to her. She may be in distress, but she doesn’t need a prince to save her.
2. The writing is really beautiful and has that "fairy tale" feeling.
I should’ve suspected it because Annie is a Robin McKinley fan, and there are times when the prose had a familiar echo of McKinley phrasing. But whereas McKinley’s writing often has a wry, blunt style that’s couched with a more formal linguistic style, Jackson kept the formality and used an ethereal, contemplative tone that reminded me a lot of Rachel Neumeier’s “The City in the Lake” and Robin McKinley’s “Chalice." The prose was particularly beautiful when Aribella was thinking about her connectedness to the world around her, and when she thought about her restlessness and how it seemed to be an almost tangible character all on its own. The writing was rich and alive in the way that good fantasy should be, like you could find this beautiful, sparkling land if only you could find the right wardrobe.
Part of it was because so many of the characters had magic, or fairiesense to where they could sense magic (if not actually do anything with it). They were much more connected to the land and had a greater sense of the spirit of the people and the unrest in the kingdom. I've been trying to think of an example and failing. The closest I can come is this: imagine if Pocahontas had fairie magic. Imagine someone thoughtful and adventurous like Pocahontas, walking around in a fairie forest and sensing the magic all around her. Imagine that she’s learning to control that magic and that her emotions have an impact on it.
Think about how heavy and considerate the tone would be with a main character that deeply connected narrating the novel.
3. This was not Aurora and Phillip’s love story. (And that’s good.)
Bion does meet Aribella in the woods, but only when he’s riding as a Royal Horsemen. He’s not a prince, though he is/was heir to the throne until they find Aribella and restore her to her parents. Aribella and Bion are both the type of character to be kind and gentle to literally everyone, though they’re both spirited and teasing to their friends and don’t bother with smiles to someone who wishes them ill will. Jackson keeps them together frequently, because Bion is the only somewhat familiar person in Aribella’s world now, and their flirtation before her true identity was revealed only has more room to grow into real feelings. They got to know each other very well and because of their respective positions, they couldn’t collapse into a cute, simple romance despite their mutual attraction.
It frustrated me a bit that no one ever came right out and said, “Why can’t Aribella marry Bion?” They were all fixated on her marrying for political strength to the point of outright ignoring the possibility of Bion. They kept saying how they Feyin had accepted Bion and he would be a strong king, etc etc and now they had to find a strong king to help Aribella and that they would try to find someone she could fall in love with, but everyone skirted around the obvious solution. I wished that had been addressed more openly toward the beginning so that I wasn’t sitting there wondering if it would come up, but it was all resolved nicely so I’m satisfied. (PS: Annie, I really want to know more about Liam. Next book? :D)
In the End:
"Tattered Heart" was a beautiful, original retelling. While Sleeping Beauty has never been a favorite of mine, this retelling has definitely improved it dramatically. The story felt so rich and alive. I honestly wanted to go find a magical forest and curl up with this book in a patch of sunshine. I already want to fade back into the pages of the story, and this will definitely be one that I reread.
Side note: Annie has been exploring “The Fairie Tale Legacy” on her blog, including the story of Sleeping Beauty. It's a good read whether you've read "Tattered Heart" or not.
I don't know if I will continue the series it was a slow read for me but I wouldn't say it was bad maybe if I was in a different frame of mind I would have liked it more. It wasn't bad just didn't hold my attention
It's so nice to read a thoughtful novel from a first time YA Fantasy novelist. Jackson creates an intriguing mythology where aspects of Fairy ebb and flow into the realm of the Kingdom. She doesn't spend too much time detailing how the fairiesense works in the kingdom world and that's great, so often times the writer painstakingly details every aspect of magic, which in my opinion defeats the entire purpose. I enjoyed that I, much like our heroine Aribella, did not fully understand the world either; it makes the discovery that much more enjoyable.
I noticed that someone's review thought the book was simplistic. While I agree that this would be suitable for young girls (that's a positive thing), there is also a complex struggle going on within Aribella and the kingdom. But I enjoy the stories of self discovery, fairy realms and epic power struggles.
There are some really great characters, no spoilers. While we learn to understand Aribella in her journey, we also get to see these dynamics of the kingdom, and I for one hope there's a sequel. Not because I feel that this story is unresolved, but because there are so many unique characters and potentially beautiful stories within the 7 Kingdoms. This was a great first novel and I'm very interested in whatever Jackson creates next in this mythology.
I have to say I thought this was a unique and beautifully written story. I'm not a fairy fanatic but these fairies are not like every other fairy story I've read or watched. They have character and meaning throughout the book. I admired the Princesses strength and weaknesses and how she adjusted to a world she could have never imagine would be hers.
I'm not very good at reviews but I can honestly say I enjoyed this book. I was a little impatient in the beginning chapters, though once you get passed them you realize you needed them to understand the characters and the remainder of the book. I did wish there was a part included that my imagination would have liked to see in a certain chapter of the book but other than that, I really enjoyed reading Tattered Heart. Great job, Annie! Looking forward to reading your next book.
While the book was a bit tedious in the beginning (it was kind of hard to follow), as I pushed through (I could tell it was going to be intriguing), the payoff turned out to be huge! It was unlike any fantasy book I'd read before and yet similar, if that makes sense. It held my interest and the author created such wonderfully deep and real characters. I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to reading more from Ms Jackson!
This book was addicting. It's not like a lot of books where you know what is going to happen and then keep reading for the sake of finishing. It's entertaining from beginning to end. I can't wait for the next book!