Review of ‘Into the Heartless Wood’

Into the Heartless Wood is an enchanting dark fairy tale that defines humanity by actions and choices.

Defining Relationships

Into the Heartless Wood

Into the Heartless Wood
Joanna Ruth Meyer
Page Street Kids

What was most engaging about this novel was how Meyer chose to define the relationships in this novel. The opening prologue sets up Seren’s relationship with her mother. She defines herself as her mother’s youngest monster. Already this lets the reader know that Seren’s mother views her as a slave, a monster, and not as a daughter.

It gives the story interesting tension because Seren also seeks to be human. She has thoughts of her own, desires of her own, that may be because she was the youngest made, the last made, so her mothers’ influence and hate did not seep so deeply into her roots. It is a toxic relationship, highlighting how anger and hatred has poisoned the Tree Witch.

However, the reader can understand the mothers’ hate. Something precious was stolen from her. It serves as an analogy of rape; the Soul Eater took her soul, he stripped her and tore out something precious from her, so the reader sides with her from the beginning.

What is more, is the way Meyer explores the idea of revenge versus forgiveness. The Soul Eater is trying to diminish the wood, to destroy the earth with industrialization, another powerful message that Meyer focuses on with her writing. However, Seren’s relationship with Owen almost mirrors that of her mothers.

Seren has caused Owen much pain, but she regrets it. Unlike the Soul Eater who chose to inflict pain, Seren felt as though she never had a choice, that she was her mothers’ monster. As for Owen, hurt and in pain, he lashes out, but in the end, he chooses forgiveness. This forgiveness blossoms into something beautiful.

Seeing these two relationships explored balances out the novel’s tension and makes the romance even more engaging.

Exploring Humanity

As for Seren, as mentioned above, she is a character who is continuously telling Owen she was made without a soul. Nevertheless, her actions, her capability to love, and wanting to be loved in return challenges this belief. She fights her mothers’ control, a woman who forces her children to steal the souls of others. She has hundreds of souls to call her own but no morality. However, for Seren, the opposite is true. She grows a conscious with every soul she takes.

Furthermore, the same goes for the Soul Eater. He eats souls to grow more powerful, for immortality, and yet he is as cruel as can be.

Meyer shows that having a “soul” or not does not define a person; it is actions. Owen is always telling Sere throughout the novel that she has a choice, that she can choose to be more or to be her mothers’ monster. Choice is everything; actions speak louder than words, which is a powerful way to explore humanity throughout the narrative.

Final Thoughts

Into the Heartless Wood is a breathtaking dark fairy tale. Enchanting from beginning to end, Meyer’s style of writing and depth in her characterization gives readers a compelling read that will lure readers into the heartless wood.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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Product Details:

Pub Date: January 12, 2021Page Count: 368ppAge Range: 14 & Over
ISBN: 978-1-6456-770-1Publisher: Page Street KidsList Price: $18.99

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