24 Oct 2015

Review - The Heartbeat Thief by A.J. Krafton

Title: The Heartbeat Thief

Author: A.J. Krafton

Publication date: Sept 18, 2015

Rating: 4/5 stars


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.

It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of stealing heartbeats in order to stay young and beautiful forever. 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?

I received a free ebook copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

My thoughts:

Deliciously poetic and hauntingly dark – The Heartbeat Thief by A. J. Krafton takes you on a journey through time and an extremely long life to show you the real nature of Death.

There is a period in everyone’s childhood when we are afraid of dying. That fear is so palpable, so real that even the mere possibility prevents you from sleep… because what if you never wake up again? This dread passes eventually as we accept that death is part of life and we move on knowing we can’t stare Death in the face every passing moment.

But there is a girl who can’t let go. Senza Fyne meets Death sitting by her grandmother’s bed at the tender age of 17 and from that day on, she is followed by a dark shadow. When a strange but captivating young man offers to free her from the fate every living thing is bound to meet in the end, she is eager to accept the new life he promises to give her. And so the endless days begin.

I adore Edgar Allan Poe and his short story The Masque of the Red Death, so when I read this book has something to do with it I felt I should give myself a favour and read it.

The atmosphere of this novel was truly amazing. Very heavy, very dense, yes – death takes center stage here after all –, but very effective at the same time. I’m not sure I could have read The Heartbeat Thief in one sitting, even if I had the time, because of its weighty subject, but then again, I don’t think it’s a book one has to read hastily. There is a lot to savour, a lot to contemplate while going through it.

The heroine is more and more likable as the story grows, she definitely becomes wiser and more mature as the plot plays out. However, she makes mistakes all the time, no matter how old she is and by her imperfectness the human nature is emphasized – we all tend to make mistakes and it wouldn’t change even if we lived through centuries. I think this is a beautiful thought.

The side characters are also well written and interesting, each a milestone in Senza’s journey, since each conveys a lesson Senza has to learn. Every meeting and every goodbye has its reason here, you can see the nicely built structure of this book as you read it.

I have to say I didn’t expect the ending, although I should have. It was so obvious, really. But I’m glad I didn’t, because it was more of a surprise and I like surprises.

I love stories that are set in different time periods and this novel was certainly a treat for me. I’d recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and gothic literature.

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