Nadia's Heart

Title & Author: Nadia’s Heart: Adventures in Evergreen Series, Wendy Altshuler

Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, March 27, 2012

Book Description: “A growing evil will use magic to steal the hearts of children. Can they be saved?

From Award Winning Author Wendy Altshuler comes Book IV in the Evergreen Series:
When an amnesiac girl who suspects her heart is missing utters a prayer, she is met by a mysterious angelic stranger from her forgotten past. Together they embark on a journey to recover her removed heart, but enter into battle with an Evil Voice on a rampage to remove the hearts of an entire generation of children – and replace them with stones.”

First Line: There was a young girl named Nadia, who thought she had been born without a heart.

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

The premise of a girl without a heart is what drew me to this story. Yes, the body needs a heart to live, but this is Fantasy, people, and if “Once Upon a Time” can get away with it on TV, then a book can too. When the “mysterious stranger” comes to help Nadia find her heart, he takes her to another world and the adventure begins. I’m afraid it’s at this point that things, for me, went downhill.

I’m on record as not being a fan of the omniscient POV. Those of you who frequent my reviews have most likely noted that about me. The omniscient POV, unless expertly handled (RE: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” or “Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle”), inevitably distances the reader from the characters’ experiences. It just doesn’t have that close, personal perspective that third or first person narrative does (and don’t get me started on second person narrative). I liked Nadia. She had courage and curiosity, but I’m afraid this book’s use of omniscient narration kept the two of us at arm’s length.

The story took on an “Alice in Wonderland” feel as Nadia and the stranger went from place to place. This would’ve been great except I had more confusion than wonder. The descriptive detail didn’t give me a visual of the surroundings. The other characters that came and went seemed overwritten and lacked charm. Even her mysterious companion started to bother me. The guy has the ability to both speak aloud and telepathically, but half the time he did neither and made vague gestures in answer to her questions. Rude.

The book was written with tons of passive voice and a story that is all “tell” and no “show”. The phrasing sometimes read like an essay to me: “There was -X-“, “Then -X- happened” “After which -X- happened” “Finally -X-“. Not only does this distance the reader from vicariously experiencing Nadia’s adventures, it saps any tension from the scene. Even the first line has this trouble. Instead of saying that Nadia thought “she had been born without a heart”, why not phrase this in a way that brings us right into Nadia’s head, like, “Nadia suspected she’d been born without a heart.” Or even cleaner, “Nadia suspected she had no heart.” I dunno, I’m just spitballing here.

The Magical: The Evil Voice was an interesting angle for an antagonist since it leaves things to the imagination, though there was a little too much of the sinister laughter mentioned. There’s only so much “Mwhahahaha” a reader can take before it starts to lose effect.

The Mundane: I often ran into nonsensical imagery like “dark clear blue soap” and “hearing” lightning. Thunder is the noisemaker in a storm, not lightning, and if the soap is clear blue, it can’t also be dark. Was the word ‘transparent’ intended?

Also, at one point a character hands Nadia a knife “in a case”, which implies a box of some kind. “Sheath” is the better word. “Case” is an synonym for sheath, but the latter would cause less confusion for a broader readership. These are just a few examples of mis-wording I can recall off the top of my head. There were more.

Summary of Thoughts: An interesting premise and a likable heroine, but the structure and execution of the story didn’t come together. A lot of story threads are left dangling, which makes sense since it’s the first book in a series, but it lacked an ending that satisfied. Currently it’s $2.99 on the Kindle. I really wanted to like this one, but it was a struggle to get through its short 77 pages, and I’m afraid I can’t recommend it.

1 Star rating

Many thanks to author Wendy Altshuler for providing a copy of the book to review.

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