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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  550 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Sixteen-year-old Elvira's mother is dead. Elvira is sad, of course, but not so sad as her younger sister Spinny. Spinny is afraid their father, Luke, will be heartbroken, but Elvira knows better -- after all, Luke has her to take her mother's place. But then Luke brings home a pretty young woman and introduces her as his fiancee, and Elvira decides that she will stop at no ...more
Mass Market Paperback, First Edition, 85 pages
Published April 12th 1988 by Ballantine Books (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  550 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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David (דוד)
3.75 stars

A good novella of about seventy pages. Has a great Gothic and a haunting atmosphere. Wonderful story, narrated by a teenage girl, with a difference! Not precisely a crime mystery, but only a reader would know. :)

Having read two of her short story collections, a standalone novel and now this book, I am convinced that Ruth Rendell is an amazing writer (not sure of her Inspector Wexford stories though, never read any of those yet). Her characters are weird, and ecc
Gila Gila
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Raven-dark little gothic murder mystery that in truth is not all that mysterious- but it goes down like delicious crimson red wine just the same. A looming, 120 foot high stone cathedral topped with archangels; two recently bereaved daughters living adjacent in a 15th century home containing "various ghosts" (including the prowling ghost of a cat said to be buried deep within the walls); a possibly incestuous relationship between one daughter and her father, whom she will only refer to by his fi ...more
William Clemens
Mar 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
In trying to broaden my reading Ruth Rendell was one of the authors I wanted to check out and I picked the shortest book I could find at the library. I came away wishing I had picked a longer one.

The mystery here made me laugh more than it shocked me, but I really liked her writing and the gothic feel of this book.
Colin Mitchell
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Audio books appeared to be rising in popularity and are now available from my local Hampshire Library service via an app to an ipad or phone. Just the job, I thought, to have playing while working in the "Man Cave", until I found myself sitting in the chair, with tea, just listening to the story!

Ruth Rendell was a wonderful story teller and Geraldine Somerville who gave the reading produced a captivating recording. This is one of those tales that gradually creep up on you and provide
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Gothic novella I picked up in the dollar bin at the used bookstore. As New York Times critic Andrea Stevens said in her original review, "The tantalizing aspect of this book ... is not the trick ending but the development of [main character] Elvira. By the end, the character is no longer a precious, unsympathetic twit but a young woman of some depth and insight." However, Elvira's new insight doesn't go that far: Most readers will probably guess the twist ending well before she does. Entertainin ...more
Rob Smith, Jr.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2017
'Heartstones' by Ruth Rendell is a haunting tale that is brilliantly written. All seems to start well enough, if not a bit off kilter. As the story goes along all turns and turns and turns. Finish this just before bed and you may being turning a lot in bed.

I try to keep my reviews void of any actual story, but have to remark of the change of the main character and what a terrific job Rendell does. i marvel at how Rendell took me from a view of the main character to something else altogether. Th
Joanne Sheppard
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure if Heartstones is still in print in the UK. I first became aware of it when I was about 13, when I borrowed it from the library. It's aimed at adults, but by that age I was reading a lot of adult crime fiction and found this story a deeply compelling one, perhaps because the narrator is herself a teenage girl, and I read it several times back then. I hadn't heard anything of it since until I found it on Audible recently, and couldn't resist downloading.

Ruth Rendell was o
I first read this about 15 years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. I foolishly 'lent' my copy to a 'borrower' who never returned it, and have looked for it, in an admittedly desultory fashion, ever stumbling across it last month in Chapter's Bookshop was brilliant - I pounced on it as I imagine a grizzly does on a flailing salmon propelling itself up the falls...
Heartstones is a perfectly formed psychological gothic thriller, and brandishes the obvious Poe influence prou
Valerie 3
Nov 28, 2018 rated it did not like it

What the book is about: Heartstones by Ruth Rendell is an old mystery novel following an anorexic adolescent named Elvira who has to cope with the aftermath of her mother's death. Along the way, she meets some new people and a few of them do not make it out alive. This novel is thrilling and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

What I thought: I personally strongly disliked this book and thought it to be confusing in the beginning and later on, boring. Throughout the entirety of the novel, I c/>


Ellen MacGillivray
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-collection
I found this novella at a used book sale years ago and only this month decided to finally give it a go. I am not familiar with Rendell, so I did not have any expectations. I began reading.. and finished it the same night.

It is a story about a young girl named Elvira and her younger sister, Spinny, and their lives in their kind of haunted Gothic home with their father, Luke, after their mother's death. Elvira is a strange sort of misfit girl, starving herself because she wants to be a
Val Heed
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A true Ruth Rendell style short story written in the 80s.
Written as a initimate diary by Elvira who is 16, when her mother dies leaving a younger sister, Spinny (Despina) and their father,Luke a university lecteurer and occasional Dean at the local cathedral.
The scene is wonderfully set-a close daughter and father studious relationship with the younger daughter excluded and seeing ghosts.
However Elvira becomes more and more in the "soul" and eats less and lessfinally becoming a
Rating based on experience: 3 Stars

Rating based on content: 2.75

Beautifully written but I must say I was extremely underwhelmed with the reveal, I guessed it would happen I just didn’t know how it would play out. I loved the development of the protagonist and her voice, but as whole as o said I was severely under impressed. Look it may be worth a read for you there were some cool factors of it.
A delightfully creepy little tale told from the perspective of an anorectic teenager who is quite affected by the works of Poe.
Jen Castaneda
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Creepy, read when you want that sort of thing.
Jen Brown
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is really good. It's a new personal favorite.
Robin Helweg-Larsen
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
A very disturbing and well-written novella, with a remarkable and completely unpredicted twist at the end. Enough to make me want to read more, and longer, works by Ruth Rendell.
Clare Snow
So that was fucked up. A twisted story with quite the twist.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
The story is told by a girl who sounds like she is from the Victorian era, prim and proper with an incredibly high opinion of herself, and it is the story of her family and their lives.
May 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Although a fan of Ruth Rendell, I found this story to be dark, plodding and miserable.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poe-like novella from the late 80's with a black cat, haunted house and murder.
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is a creepy story of murder and passion. Two sisters live with their widowed father near a parsonage. Both girls are sad when their mother dies, but the 16-year-old determines to take her mother's place in every way you can imagine, and some you'd rather not. Fortunately, dea old dad in't nearly as messed up. He brings home a young woman and announces their plan t marry. s 16-yea-old daughter, who also suffers from a severe eating disorder, will stop at nothing to end the marriage. I've alw ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book because I was looking for something to read while I rode the bus to and from work. This turned out to be a book that I had a hard time putting down. I had always thought that I was a person who could easily figure things out, but she had me so convinced about one place, then when I got to the end when I realized how wrong I was. I have given this book to others and even told them the ending, only to have them tell me how it blew their mind when they got to the end. This book ...more
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011

Heartstones is a wee little novella telling the tale of clinically creepy 16-year-old Elvira, who, after her mother's death, latches onto her father, Luke, but in a cold, clinical, creepy way. She's inhuman, almost comically so, in her thoughts, dealings, and interactions with others. When Luke brings home a new girlfriend it's too much for Elvira, already burdened with living in a haunted house and handling the nighttime frights of her sad, fat, scaredy sister, Despina.
Kate Watson
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Ruth Rendell is a master at developing the strangest, but totally believable family drama situations from compelling and believable characters. This story features an anorexic, serial killer teenager who has an unhealthy love interest in her father. She eventually grows out the anorexia, as well as the crush, but there are a number of bodies left in her wake. Did she really kill these people? Twisty to the end, Heartstones is a short, sweet read, almost like a bedtime story for those with a wick ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I reread this novella because the story has always haunted me. The writing is superb--so evocative and creepy. The story still intrigued me but not as much as I remember--perhaps because although I didn't remember the details, I remembered the twist at the end and that took away a bit of the surprise. It's really wroth reading--a descent into mental illness and physical illness (eating disorder) that is presented in the most unusual way.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an absorbing psychological thriller that Ruth Rendell does well. It's the story of Elvira, a teenage girl too mature for her age with an unhealthy love for her widowed father and shockingly deluded. In journal form, the book recounts Elivra's contemptious view of the world and the possible series of murders she commits to ensure her father love her and only her. The truth of what is really happening if you're willing to look between the lines. Wonderful stuff.
Ruth Rendell is one of my favorite authors writing police procedurals, mystery, suspense, psychological drama and with this book I would venture to say a bit of gothic horror. A quick read (less than 100 pages) and "fun" - she kept me wondering where she was going with it, and just when I thought I knew, I would later see I was wrong.
Mary Kay
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Quintessential creepy Ruth Rendell. This is part of the Harper Short Novels series, which I didn't know about until now -- a haunting, eerie psychological thriller / ghost story. Halloween-time reading.
I am reminded of du Maurier, haunted by the spirit, transfixed, seduced, transposed. In a dreamy state, the small hours fall by wayside: there is no one here, there is only silence. And made coarse by written words, I am away again, forever, and more.
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book absolutely bored me. Although written as a ghost story/mystery, I didn't think there was anything "scary" about it. I pretty much realized with this book and another Rendell mystery, that she is not one of my favorite writers.
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A.K.A. Barbara Vine

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, who also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, was an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries and above all for Inspector Wexford.
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