Title: Heart of Mist (The Oremere Chronicles #1)
Author: Helen Scheurer
Publisher: Talem Press, 2017 (August 31)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Purchase link: Heart of Mist – Amazon
**I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review**
Once again, I didn’t mean to go AWOL…this book took me a long time because I have been busy…and then after I finished it, I picked up Black Bird of the Gallows. And let’s just say I can already tell that one is going to be a rave review!
But I must give credit to where credit is due, and that is to Heart of Mist. You know I’m already a big supporter of smaller presses, but this book could be up there with Throne of Glass or Kiss of Deception. I was pleasantly surprised, and not just by the simple yet gorgeous cover.
It’s simple but elegant, and it gives away nothing…this is a book I would love to own physically because it screams “READ ME – I AM SO PRETTY SO MUST BE GOOD INSIDE!!” The minute I saw this cover I knew. I knew Heart of Mist was for me.
Bleak is a freak.
Sorry, I just had to say that because it rhymed. And because it’s true.
She is a drunk. A “gutter rat.” But Bleak could care less what others think about her. Hell, Bleak isn’t even her real name. No one really knows the mysterious girl adopted by the popular Bleak Senior…but when he was around, others left her alone. Now that he’s passed on, Bleak is the subject of rumors and ridicule. Yes, she wakes up often, too drunk to remember the night before. Yes, she has strange, mismatched eyes that unsettle the townspeople in the village.
Yes, she is secretly a mind reader. There are valid reasons why Bleak is an outcast. But she doesn’t care. As long as a bottle of liquor and the sea are nearby, Bleak is fine.
She keeps her abilities a secret and tries to drown out the thoughts of others by getting drunk. It’s the only cure she has at her disposal. And since the Ashai, the people with magic, are banned and exiled, she knows no one must know about her ability. Not even her best friend Bren, the boy whose thoughts are the loudest.
So when Bleak is summoned by the Commander of the King’s Army to see the King, Bleak knows she’s done for: someone knows her secret. She is whisked away from Bren and taken on horseback away from everything she’s ever known…but without a family, no one fights for her other than her best friend.
One night while on the trail, Bleak is attacked by one of the guards…right in the middle of Valian forests. The Valians are a mythical warrior people….mythical only because no one has seen one in years. But when Bleak is attacked, the Valians swing in and save her….
Only to abduct her themselves.
In a land where magic exists but is banned from the people….in a world where a toxic Mist spreads like the hand of Death himself…Bleak is sought by the King and the Valian matriarch. Though she knows she has magic, all she wants is a cure.
But all they want is Bleak. They want her magic….
…she might be the key to destroying the Mist.
Unfortunately, some don’t want the Mist destroyed…they want it to spread.
Yes. There is a questionable scene where Bleak is “attacked” (as a woman by a man, if you get my drift), but it’s not explicit. The book may not have as much use in discussions, but the storyworld is well-developed and there is an interesting dynamic among the Valians. The Valian tribe is controlled by women and the men are domestic while the women are warriors. This would be an interesting way to show a difference in gender roles in culture. Also, the stigma of magic makes many hide their true identity, which is also an interesting area to explore. So though it isn’t meaty in material, material is there.
I could see this being used in a fantasy unit…if done right, I could see an enjoyable classroom experience. Bleak’ drinking and addiction to escape her problems is also a real-life issue that crosses over across genres. So instead of passing on this one, I encourage teachers to use it! It’s well-written, exciting, and switches POVs between Bleak, a Valian, the Commander, and a young boy. Both girls and boys would enjoy this book with fight scenes and light love.
I give Heart of Mist ★★★★☆ for classroom use! With creativity, this book could be a hit.
The book is an easy read, so I find no problems with allowing actress to younger readers…there are subtleties, however, that might not be picked up by a younger and less-experienced reader. The attack scene isn’t descriptive enough to make me wary, but the alcohol abuse and Bleak’s personality, plus the dynamics between Bleak and Bren might be lost on a younger reader.
There is some diversity in love – we have an LGBT relationship between two characters – but it is not really explored too much. So material-wise,the book is tame. It’s the level of complexity within the characters that makes me recommend more of a 13 and up audience. Fantasy lovers and SJM fans should enjoy this. If a younger reader enjoys it, there’s nothing but Bleak’s drinking that makes me hesitant, and not enough to warn against reading it.
I LOVED IT, if you couldn’t tell by now!
My heart fell in love with Bleak – though sometimes I want to shake her and just make her realize people care about her. The book gets really good near the end, with a cliffhanger that will make you like this:
I’m starting to really hate reading series books one at a time. Maybe I should just wait for a whole series to come out, like Schwab’s ADSOM series, or the Grisha books, and read them then. I hate this waiting. Luckily, Black Bird of the Gallows is amazing so far, but then what happens then? ANOTHER CLIFFHANGER I’M SURE!!
So I guess it doesn’t surprise you that I’m giving Heart of Mist ★★★★★. Well-deserved ones, in fact.
So I’m off to recover via a book rebound…it’s like a rebound relationship: I’ll forget all about my feels here for another book, and when that’s over, I’ll be feeling the feels twice as hard (note to all of you: I do NOT recommend rebound relationships…they are a temp fix, and it’s gonna be a lot worse when that one ends).
I currently sucked into BBofG…what are you reading?
Oh, and I have pics to share of my visit at the SJM signing for Tower of Dawn…then I am going to see Bardugo on the 30th! So lots of good books have been coming in…would you guys like a book haul post? I’ve never done one: I feel like it’s showing off. But maybe you’d want to see? I DID just recently acquire a galley of a new Meyer book that comes out in November….hint, hint. If you’d like to see, check out my Instagram @teacher_of_ya!