The Heartbeat Thief
By A.J. Krafton
Genre: New Adult Fiction
Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth–she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.
In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death–and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step. So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible–he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it… When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death–but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.
From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…
How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?
BUY THIS BOOK:
This story was simply breathtaking. Having read quite a bit of Edgar Allen Poe in high school and in college, I really appreciated the author’s nod to his work and the way she used so much imagery to allow Senza’s growing fears of death to take on such a demanding physical presence as if it is truly a threat that lies in wait to capture unwilling victims without hesitation or even mercy. It’s amazing to me that the author was able to take this fear of death and allow that internal conflict to carry the entire story. It affected every relationship Senza could have or would have had. Though it would be easy to dislike Senza for her childish vanity where her beauty and youth are concerned-these vanities are some underlying reasons behind not just her fear of death but her fear of growing older-it is obvious that her upbringing and the importance her mother placed on her daughters beauty is something we must fault the mother in and not the daughter. And even though Senza finally comes to understand the irrational fear of growing old and dying it is understandable that she might find the idea horrifying considering her worth was sacrificed upon the alter of all things superficial in nature. It helps the reader join in that journey of discovery on Senza’s part though she spends much of it fleeing from a happiness that might have been all consuming.
I noticed a reviewer described the author’s writing as boring and mediocre. I think this reviewer must not have been the right audience for this book, and simply wasn’t interested in the subject matter because the writing is anything but mediocre or boring. Besides it being technically flawless in every way it holds so much symbolism within the prose as it gives a reference to Poe’s work and the style of writing that requires a little digging within ourselves to pick out the message and theme interwoven within the lines of this truly poetic narrative. It’s meant to not only entertain, but to give the reader a little food for thought which is something I loved about the literature I read in college. Thought provoking material that stretches you just a little should never be dubbed mediocre simply because a particular reader might have been looking for something light and fluffy.
Senza’s development was memorable. She went from debilitating fear in the presence of death to complete acceptance of it when she had the opportunity to give everything she had to someone who was going to die either way. Such a selfless and self-sacrificing gesture she never would have considered previously, and though it took her quite some time to mature, her progress was obvious and measurable in a way that was both compelling and engrossing.
The secondary characters were beautifully weaved into the story, and I find it incredible that I was able to fall in love with every one of them even though many of them were only part of the narrative for a short time. It’s the mark of a talented writer who allows us to care for so many characters in one book, especially when they play such minor roles, Mary, Piotr, that young man she finally opened her heart to…all of these people added to Senza’s moment of discovery and helped to teach her some important life lessons. I was delighted with the author’s take on Jack the Ripper as well. Clever to weave that in, and so on point with the dark theme of the story. It was also a wonderful moment for Senza’s courageous spirit and loving heart to shine through as she took care of Mary and then faced off with the Ripper. Good stuff, that.
I’ll admit to wishing that more had happened between her and Mr. Knell in the end, but I think it ended exactly how it was meant to with a full life of love awaiting her and even more love to follow in death. I was pretty much rooting for Mr. Knell all along, never once believing he might be the villain he seemed simply because of his actions where Senza’s well-being was concerned, and in the end he gave her one of the most precious gifts of all, that of perspective. An immortal life lived in fear shut off from the world around you can never be better than a mortal life filled with love, family and those every day activities that might not seem like much at the time, but collectively are so precious to everyone in the end. Basically, Mr. Knell is my new book boyfriend, and I kind of want a whole book devoted to him getting his own happily ever after even if it is dark in nature. I think his story would be the most fascinating one of all.
I loved this book, the author’s voice and style and the author’s mastery of such a difficult topic as death and what awaits us on the other side. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a thought provoking fantasy with some wickedly entertaining paranormal elements.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ash Krafton’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in several journals, including Niteblade, Bete Noire, Abandoned Towers, and Silver Blade. Ms. Krafton resides in the heart of the Pennsylvania coal region and lurks near her blog (http://ash-krafton.blogspot.com). No surprise she is still hard at work writing– the Books of the Demimonde (BLEEDING HEARTS, BLOOD RUSH, WOLF’S BANE) are available through Pink Narcissus Press, while STRANGER AT THE HELL GATE and WORDS THAT BIND can be found at The Wild Rose Press. She also writes New Adult speculative fiction as AJ Krafton. Her upcoming titles include TAKIN’ IT BACK and FACE OF THE ENEMY. Her début, THE HEARTBEAT THIEF was released in June 2015 and has already become an Amazon bestseller.
DON’T MISS MY NEXT BOOK REVIEW ON OCTOBER 10th!