Heart of the Impaler by Alexander Delacroix
Out Now from Swoon Reads; 452 Pages
Content Warnings: Abuse, death, violence
About the Author: Alexander Delacroix earned Masters degrees from Brigham Young University and Western Governors University. As an undergraduate he majored in French, Russian, and German but ultimately became a Language Arts teacher. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing. Heart of the Impaler is his debut novel. (Bio taken from publisher’s website)
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While fleeing from her home after a near-miss assassination attempt against her, Ilona’s hand in marriage is traded away for her father’s personal promotion in rankings and protection. Though Ilona doesn’t care for the crown prince she is now betrothed to, the looming war gives her no choice in the matter. But even as her arranged marriage and war weighs on her, Ilona finds some satisfaction in the gloomy courting after meeting the prince’s younger brother Vlad and his cousin Andrei. Soon after, both boys become interested in her. Now, the war between cousins over Ilona’s heart may be just as detrimental as the war over her life and home.
I’m a sucker for Vlad the Impaler (and Dracula) inspired stories! I was so ecstatic the second I read the premise of this story because I feel the Vlad the Impaler side of the lore isn’t in fantasy stories of today as much as the vampire side of the lore is. With the historical background and title, my hopes were high, but this story fell short for me. Vlad’s character came off as whiny, and the love triangle that he finds himself in with his cousin over Ilona is rather weak because no one seems to respect or see Ilona as anything other than a prize. Though towards the end we begin to see a bit of Vlad’s descent into madness and his ruthless character, I felt like this madness and fierceness was within him throughout the book; because a lot of the significant scenes that were important to Vlad’s (and the other characters’) arcs happened off the page, this madness came out of nowhere. For me, the story lacked the luster of the lore of Vlad the Impaler.
PRR Writer and Editor, Taylor Quinn