Into the Heartless Wood
Joanna Ruth Meyer
Page Street Kids
Published January 12, 2021
About Into the Heartless Woods
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.
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.
I feel like the back cover copy, shown above, for this book is a great summary of the story. Now that I read it after having read the whole book, it feels like it is packed with a lot of hints at things that I didn’t see until I read the book. Which is pretty cool, actually.
When I read the first page of the book, which I did really just to gauge how much I might like it, I found I couldn’t stop reading. I think I read the first forty pages or so just sitting on the edge of my bed, without actually taking a minute to get comfortable.
The whole story hit me like that. I felt like I needed to keep drinking it in, line by line, as quickly as I could, all the way to the very last page.
I loved it. Owen’s gentle spirit. His mischievous little sister. Seren’s terrible strength and her longing to not be a monster any longer. The transformative power of love and the destructive power of betrayal. The healing power of a little kindness. I loved the hints of gender-flipped Beauty and the Beast. (Aha. See? I got you there, didn’t I?)
As I’m writing this review, I’ve only just finished reading maybe an hour ago, and I still feel like I’m buzzing with all the adrenaline from those last chapters. It’s so good. INTO THE HEARTLESS WOOD is definitely a must-read book for this year!
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Most human characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used a few times.
Kissing between a boy and girl. Vague reference to sex.
Human souls can be collected and used as a source of great power. A witch uses magic to create beings who enchant humans. The trees in a magical wood are aware and dangerous.
Multiple scenes show the brutal murder of multiple people. Sometimes the description is pretty brief, but other times it’s more drawn out. A few scenes show torture or an enemy causing terrible injuries. A mother character is particularly brutal to one of her daughters.
Owen drinks liquor from a flask to numb him before a medical procedure.
Note: I received a free copy of INTO THE HEARTLESS WOOD in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.