cover image Heartstone


Elle Katharine White. Harper Voyager, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-245194-1

Debut fantasy novelist White pays homage to the prickly lovers from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in this lively adventure full of action, wit, and romance. When rapacious griffins threaten Merybourne Manor, the smallest holding in the island kingdom of Arle, Lord Merybourne hires a band of skilled Riders—warriors with magical animal mounts—to hunt them down. Moira Bentaine, wife of Merybourne’s clerk, hopes to gain a Rider husband for one of her four daughters, which will elevate their status. Pragmatic second daughter Aliza finds little to like in Rider Alastair Daired, even though he’s very handsome and his dragon is quite friendly. Aliza’s sister Angelina, on the other hand, is thoroughly charmed by Cedric Brysney, Daired’s friend and fellow Rider. But hunting deadly griffins leaves little time for romance, especially after the arrival of Daired’s old enemy, along with a mysterious stranger who delivers a grim warning. Referencing Austen just enough to ground her characters, White fills her unusual fantasy world with plenty of interesting conflicts to fuel this tale of romance and heroism. Austen purists may find things to quibble with, but there’s more than enough originality here to please any fantasy reader. (Jan.)