Tales of a Monstrous Heart

The hauntingly beautiful, slow burn Gothic Romantasy inspired by Jane Eyre

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Pub Date 29 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 29 Aug 2024

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Be careful of the dark and those that call it friend.

Katherine Woodrow is fey, and all she wants is to graduate from the Institute of Magic. But when the prejudiced mortal council threaten her position at the institute, she is left with only one option: accept a Mage Partnership with the elusive Lord Blackthorn.

Emrys Blackthorn is a riddle Kat is fearful of solving. The mysterious, cursed war hero with his stormy eyes and unpredictable ways leaves Kat with more questions than answers. What she does know is that she is irresistibly drawn to him . . . no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a string of murders and fey disappearances herald the return of dark magic, Kat and Emrys are thrown into a world of ancient books that hide hideous monsters, dark fiends who play with nightmares and mortal men who wish nothing more than to see them both burn.

But what haunts them both are secrets even ghosts dare not whisper, while insidious shadows lick their teeth and sharpen their claws, waiting for the moment that all tales will come to light - even the monstrous ones.

Be careful of the dark and those that call it friend.

Katherine Woodrow is fey, and all she wants is to graduate from the Institute of Magic. But when the prejudiced mortal council threaten her...

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ISBN 9781399615976
PRICE £20.00 (GBP)

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Average rating from 39 members

Featured Reviews

— 5 stars

"Out of all the punishments I've endured, why is being forbidden to have you the worst of them all?"

📖 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭: 384 pages
👤 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫:Jennifer Delaney
🏢 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: Gollancz
📅 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐞: 29 August 2024

What you can expect:
— Adult Gothic Fantasy Romance
— First Instalment In A Trilogy
— First Person X Single POV
— Jane Eyre Inspired
— Fey X Scarred Dark Mysterious Lord
— Sentient & Meddling House
— Forbidden Romance
— Close Proximity
— Tending To Each Other's Wounds
— Dark Academia
— Murder Mystery
— Found Family
— 'Who Did This To You'
— Slow Burn Romance
— Morally Grey Characters
— Non-Binary Flirts

Tales of a Monstrous Heart is the first instalment in a new trilogy by debut author Jennifer Delaney. Be careful of the dark and those that call it friend. Katherine Woodrow is Fey, and all she wants is to graduate from the Institute of Magic. But when the prejudiced mortal council threaten her position at the institute, she is left with only one option: accept a Mage Partnership with the elusive Lord Blackthorn. Emrys Blackthorn is a riddle Kat is fearful of solving. The mysterious, cursed war hero with his stormy eyes and unpredictable ways leaves Kat with more questions than answers. What she does know is that she is irresistibly drawn to him . . . no matter how forbidden it might be. When a string of murders and fey disappearances herald the return of dark magic, Kat and Emrys are thrown into a world of ancient books that hide hideous monsters, dark fiends who play with nightmares and mortal men who wish nothing more than to see them both burn. But what haunts them both are secrets even ghosts dare not whisper, while insidious shadows lick their teeth and sharpen their claws, waiting for the moment that all tales will come to light - even the monstrous ones.

𝐖𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲:
To say I'm thrilled and in awe is an understatement. I've been highly anticipating Tales of a Monstrous Heart for months after following the author on social media and if I could give higher than a five star rating... I would. Knowing this story is a debut publication for author Jennifer Delaney only adds to my delight, and I cannot wait to see what comes next for Delaney as a writer and how she continues to explore in the Tales series. This richly seductive and gothic tale was unputdownable with its compelling narrative, enticing setting, haunting mystery and well-explored storyline. The pacing was steady from beginning to end as we are granted ample time to discover our main cast of characters and divulge into the lore of their world, and I look forward to see what comes next in the story after that explosive ending left my jaw dropped and my heart racing. I devoured this book and its contents in one sitting whilst barely coming up for air... that's how good it is.

I was thoroughly submersed into the plot of Tales of a Monstrous Heart from the very first page as we are immediately thrust into an action-packed first chapter. Faced with the prejudice of her heritage and an innate need to fit in amongst her human peers, Katherine Woodrow desperately tries to keep her chaos to a minimum to little success. Unfortunately for her, fate is fickle and in the mood to play games. With her magic at risk of being 'cleansed' and being cast out of the Institute, Kat has begun to lose hope until she receives partnership papers from the mysterious and presumed dead Lord Emrys Blackthorn. Lord Blackthorn provides Kat with the opportunity she desperately needed, until she finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery as her fellow Fey continue to turn up dead with sinister forces at play. At no point did I find the plot to 'lull' or drag as we follow Katherine and Emrys in their bid for answers. The history of their world plays a recurring role in the mystery that they desperately seek to unveil, and I really enjoyed how this was incorporated into the developing plot. It became clear that nothing is said or done without reason, and I look forward to see where the rest of the series will go as more secrets are revealed and mysteries are unravelled.

Katherine Woodrow is my kind of main character with her feisty and formidable nature. When we are first introduced to Kat, she is doing everything she can to blend in with her human peers and hide her Fey heritage. All she wants is to be viewed as an equal, and it broke my heart to recognise how strong of a character she is that has been forced with submit to the will of others. Her bravery and resilience manifest in the defence of those who need it... even the undeserving. Kat is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the few people in her life that she cares for, and I had the best time seeing just unhinged she could become in response to that protection. She's intelligent and resourceful, and her loyalty is unparalleled. I felt immense pride for Kat's character as she began to unravel the 'truths' she had been given and analyse the world around her as it is. Kat really comes into herself and her identity as a powerful Fey which was a monumental moment after spending so many years trying to be accepted for who she wasn't. Her trauma broke my heart after slowly learning about what she had endured as the plot progressed, and I'm really eager to see where her character will go after that epic ending to the book. Jennifer... you'll be receiving my therapy bill.

LORD Emrys Blackthorn. Phew. What a man he turned out to be. I've been practically salivating over this man as a result of Delaney's teasers in the last few months, and to say he did not disappoint is an understatement. Dark and broody. Horrifically scarred and mysterious. Check and check. And yet despite his imposing presence, I was pleasantly surprised to see how soft and compassionate Emrys could be. His patience and guardian-like regard towards William was so endearing and special. This bond helped showcase that as secretive and and seemingly unreachable his character is, Emrys is still capable of forming bonds despite how selective he may be. His willingness to trust in Kat from the beginning had me opening up to his character and eager to learn more about his character. His mysterious allure pulled me in, and I completely understand Kat's attraction to him. Also... I love a man with a protective streak that still recognises his woman's ability to defend herself. I was consistently swooning at his protection attempts, just to start laughing at Kat's stubborn disregard as she went on to do what she wanted anyone. This poor stoic man just wanted to find answers on the murder mystery plaguing their lands, just to be left baffled and frustrated (yet attracted) by his stubborn Fey companion. I still very much feel like there is more to Emrys's character than what was revealed, and I look forward to being granted a more intimate insight to his character in book two.

William and Alma were the best supporting characters that I could hope for. William's youthful and positive outlook on life despite how devastating his past circumstances were. Alma's unrelenting and loyal nature. They acted as a perfect balance to one another and I adored their joined page time. I was thrilled to see them forge a solid companionship as the story progressed, and I look forward to see where their roles and character arcs develop throughout the trilogy. And of course, a special mention to the devious and alluring Thean. Whilst I was constantly plagued by the instinct that this is not a character to be trusted, I can't help to admit that I found myself looking forward to their appearance on-page. There's definitely more to this character than meets the eye and knowing what I now know by the end of Tales of a Monstrous Heart, I suspect Thean will have a much bigger role to play in coming books.

𝐑𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐃𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐩𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭:
The relationship development between Kat and Emrys was written to absolute perfection. The pining and the longing. The tension and the forbidden nature to their attraction. I eager to see how their budding attraction would be addressed as Emrys is technically a mentor to Kat, however I was thrilled to see that this didn't make the dynamic in any way uncomfortable. Kat goes into their partnership ambled with knowledge of her own, and even finds herself educating Emrys on knowledge he is not in possession of. This helped to create a balance in their uneven power dynamic and establish a mutual respect long before their attraction is even addressed. Trust was slow to build as both characters had endured their own horrors and trauma which affected their ability to emotionally let people in, and it was a beautiful and slightly chaotic to watch as their tentative trust began to grow along with the story. Nothing makes me more giddy than watching two broken people start to find pieces of themselves in the other, and it was hilarious to watch as a sentient house became their biggest supporter and matchmaker. Also, did I mention that Tales of a Monstrous Heart includes nicknames that are personal to them? Swoon. Kat and Emrys have burrowed their way into my very heart and soul, and I'm really rooting for the series to end with their happily ever after.

𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬:
I don't think I could fully articulate just how much I loved Tales of a Monstrous Heart, and I hope I've managed to somewhat do it justice in my review. There is not a single complaint to be found from me, and I think it done a wonderful job setting up the explosive plot that I'm expecting to see in the sequel. I will absolutely be rereading this as I await book two in the hopes of rediscovering the small 'easter eggs' that I have undoubtedly missed during my first read through. I cannot praise and recommend this book any more, and I already know it has solidified a spot in my top three reads of 2024.

𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐀𝐑𝐂 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲.

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Thank you NetGalley and Gollancz for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review!

This is like Howl's Moving Castle and Jane Eyre had a little dark academia baby and I'm so here for it. After getting to read the sampler a whole back, this book has been a very anticipated read for me!

A scholarly, half-fey FMC desperate to prove her worth, a brooding and mysterious Lord who has a great many secrets, a shapeshifting maid, a horned manservant and a definitely-sentient house all make this a page-turner for sure.

I loved this darkly gothic world, full of rich lore and history, steeped in magic both small and grand, beautiful and terrifying. I cannot forgive Jennifer for that cliffhanger though 😅

This is the sumptuous gothic romantasy you need in your life. A highly entertaining read I thoroughly enjoyed.

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This is was phenomenal book; one of the best books I've read this year.

I have been so excited for this book for months; it has sounded more and more incredible with each little tidbit released about it on social media. So, my excitement continued to build. And then, I was lucky enough to receive a sampler containing the first two (or three) chapters last year and I was completely gobsmacked. Just from those few chapters, I knew this was going to be an outstanding read. And boy was I right.

I have absolutely no criticisms for this book; everything was genuinely perfection. The plot, writing, themes, characters, relationships, pacing. Everything was just on point. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best fantasy/romantasy books I've ever read. It is absolutely fantastic.

While there are so many amazing aspects and part to this book, the best is the characters, particularly Kat. I honestly just loved and adored her so much. She is strong, powerful, funny, kind and intelligent. Exactly my kind of protagonist! She also just feels so genuine and authentic, which may sound ludicrous as this is a fantasy book, but she feels so lifelike. At the heart, she is a normal character, who has powerful magic and I LOVED that about her. It helped me to gel with her very quickly. And thank you Jennifer for not constantly going on about her looks!!!! That is always something that irritates me in fantasy books - looks always overshadow powers. Emrys is amazing, and perhaps the best male love interest I've ever read in a fantasy book. Again, he also just feels so authentic as a character; he respects Kat and her powers and treats her well. The way he backs her and stands up for her is beautiful. They have such amazing chemistry and a lovely relationship. They don't rush into anything, nor take it too slowly - it's just the perfect pacing. I just love them so incredibly much.

And let's just talk about the writing - amazing!!!! It is so incredibly well written; you are completely swept away into the story and characters. It is so immersive and detailed, that nothing feels left out. There isn't a single word on the page that shouldn't be there, everything is perfectly slotted into the story. This is a story that has such a deep and almost vivid background too, which just adds another layer to the story. There's a history and lore here.

Loved this book so, so much and would HIGHLY recommend it to all of the fantasy lovers out there!

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This was such a great read for fans of both romantasy and gothic fiction!

We follow Katherine Woodrow, a young fey woman, who has suffered extreme prejudice all her life for being different. Her fey blood has made her a social outcast in a world were mortals rule and magic is considered particularly negative when weilded by those who aren't human. To escape the Institute of Magic where she is treated like someone to be feared, she accepts a partnership as a Mage to Lord Emerys Blackthorn and moves to his sentient manor house to work with him.

The nods to Jane Eyre gave this novel an extra fun twist and with the added elements of magic, murderous dark beings and the slow-burn love story, it really was the full package for me! I really enjoyed reading about all the characters, especially William for with his positive attitude and warm personality. Katherine and Alma have such a sweet friendship and I adored how protective Alma was of her. And then Emerys, well. I LOVED him. He's the brooding MMC that dreams are made of!

This is definitely going to be a hit with romantasy lovers and I'll be recommending it to everyone as one to pick up when it publishes in the Summer!

Thank you so much to Gollancz, Orion Publishing Group and Jennifer Delaney for the advanced copy of this book in exchanged for my unbiased review!

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Let me start this review by saying that I completely devoured this book in a way that I couldn’t stop but wanted it to last forever. It was a constant battle to try and pace myself to savour this gorgeous book!

In Tales of a Monstrous Heart we follow Kat and Emrys as they unravel the return of dark magic, the mysterious disappearances of fey and this very strange disease that is plaguing the world. They are thrown int a world of ancient books that hide hideous monsters, dark fiends who play with nightmares and mortal men who wish nothing more than to see them both burn. This is a story of perseverance, courage, found family and love.

Kat and Emrys are two character that I anticipate I’ll be carrying inside my heart for a long time - they must be protected at all costs! I particularly love how mundane and good they are, despise all the ugly things the world has shown and done to them. In their struggles, they decide to be courageous, good and somehow move on with their lives. The traumas and sadness of their pasts is there and you can see how it still influences them in the present and who they’ve become. And despise everything, they still choose to be good. The way their friendship slowly blossoms into something more is beautiful and I could not get enough of them! We need healthy relationships!

I also loved the side characters - I say side but they are as relevant as the main duo! -, Alma and William. They are simply lovely and you must meet them too! The house was another amazing character, full of charm, mischief and definitely a personality of their own! And the enchanted library is gorgeous, full of dark academia vibes and cursed books!

This book kept me hooked the entire time, and I did not see the big plot twists towards the end… and that epic climax of an ending? Had me wishing for book two straight away - and as I am writing this, book one hasn’t even come out just yet! What a beautifully done cliffhanger! This is a truly fabulous debut and a must for all fans of gothic, cosy romantasies! The writing was magnificent, it felt like it was a letter to my soul - and I rarely feel this way about books! I definitely connected to a whole new level with the writing! I can barely believe this is a debut, Jennifer where have you been hiding?!

Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC. All opinions are my own

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Delaney really knows how to create characters that are real and flawed, but you cannot not love them. Plus, the writing was amazing as well. I really enjoyed reading it.

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Last year I was in a pub listening to a young woman talk about the book she had just had accepted. She was expansive and enthusiastic and as I listened to her I thought, I really must read that. But at the same time I really hoped my reading experience lived up to both my and her expectations.
Reader, it did.
Kat is half fey in a world which has suppressed all non humans for centuries. She has made it against all the odds to the Institute of Magic and all the way to the end of the course. All she needs now is a partnership agreement, the training contract that will enable her to move into employment. But no one wants to partner with a fey no matter how good her grades and when she helps out an undeserving fellow student, her very existence at the Institute is threatened until she is offered one chance. A partnership with the (tall, dark) mysterious Emrys Blackthorn. Soon Kat finds herself in his isolated manor house where all kinds of secrets lurk and darkness waits to trap them while her forbidden attraction for her mentor grows. But Emrys isn't the only one with secrets and as the danger intensifies, Kat struggles to keep hers contained.
Dark, gothic, sensual and original, peopled with believable characters and well thought out worldbuilding Tales of a Monstrous Heart is an unputdownable fantasy adventure. Highly recommended.

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I have literal goosebumps, this book is that good.

If you love Jane Eyre and all things gothic, this is the perfect book for you.

I was captivated from the very first chapter and I struggled to put it down. It’s addictive in the best way. It had me questioning everything and left me wanting more.

The characters are brilliant and I loved the relationships that this book has built. The secondary characters aren’t two dimensional, they’re lovable and have their own complex backstories.

Emrys. That’s all I’m going to say. That man. The enigma. I love him.

The ending gave me literal chills. The build up was just as good as the climax and I loved every single second of it.

That cliffhanger though, I’m dying for the next one.

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𝒯𝒶𝓁𝑒𝓈 𝑜𝒻 𝒶 𝑀𝑜𝓃𝓈𝓉𝓇𝑜𝓊𝓈 𝐻𝑒𝒶𝓇𝓉
By @jenniferdelaneyauthor
Publisher: @gollancz
Release Date: 29 August 2024

𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙠 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙚𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙡𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙄 𝙛𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 𝙢𝙮𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙪𝙣𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙚𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙖𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚.

The cover of the book immediately captured my attention upon first glance, but it was the compelling and enthralling story that truly left a lasting impression on me. This book truly blew me away with its brilliance! It is definitely one of the best books I have read so far this year. The writing was absolutely beautiful, and I found myself completely captivated by it. The characters were so well-developed and lovable; it was impossible not to adore them.

This book is perfectly suited for those who appreciate:
* Slow Burn
* Gothic Romance
* Forbidden Romance
* Morally Grey Characters
* Found Family

I would like to express my gratitude to @netgalley, @gollancz and @jenniferdelaneyauthor for providing me with the opportunity to read this exceptional e-ARC , which has left a lasting impression on me. The quality of the content was so impressive that I have taken the step to pre-order it. Thank you for this wonderful reading experience,

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Honestly, I was torn between racing through this book and dragging it out because I simply did not want it to end – it really is that good! Tales of a Monstrous Heart is a slow-burn, gothic romantasy that is full of yearning, stolen glances and tender moments.

The first chapter absolutely grabs you by the scruff of the collar and drags you into the world with one of the best and all-out-action openers that I've ever read. The story follows Katherine Woodrow, a Fey student at the Institute of Magic who faces daily prejudice and obstacles from all mortals who now control the world that we're in. After a run-in with a dangerous demon that leaves a path of destruction, Kat is summoned to become a Mage Partner with Lord Blackthorn.

Emrys Blackthorn is elusive, mysterious and lives in a suitably gothic, sentient house that is ever-shifting its layout to its whim. Together, Kat and Emrys work together to desperately seek answers to Fey murders and unexplainable mysteries while uncovering a whole host of dark forces along the way. The plot never lags and keeps you thoroughly gripped throughout. The supporting characters – William, Alma and Thean – are well-developed and I absolutely adored them all, especially Thean!

Also, the ending may be one of the most gut-wrenching yet bravest endings from a debut writer that I've ever read. I cannot wait for everyone to experience Tales of a Monstrous Heart!

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⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐ - Firstly, thank you Jennifer for the incredible sample pack & allowing me to read the e-ARC 😍🥹

* About *
Tales of a Monstrous Heart is a captivating Gothic romance that melds the eerie and enchanting elements of the genre with a slow-burn romance that unfolds with deliberate elegance. Inspired by Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre," this novel pays homage to the classic while carving out its own unique niche in the realm of Gothic literature.

✨ Set in a brooding, atmospheric Blackthorn Manor & captivating landscape that feels alive with secrets and shadows, the story follows the journey of a resilient, complex heroine who finds herself entangled in a web of mystery and forbidden love.

* My Review *
🖤 The book excels in creating a vivid, immersive setting, from the creaking halls, moving rooms & hidden portals within an ancient manor, that whisper of long-buried secrets.

😍 The romance at the heart of the story is a slow-burning affair, characterized by deep emotional currents. The relationship between the protagonists evolves with a measured pace, allowing for rich character development and a profound exploration of their inner lives.

🖤 The romantic tension is heightened by the Gothic elements—ghostly apparitions, dark magic, monsters and historic family secrets, all with a a sense of impending doom—that hover on the periphery of their burgeoning love.

🤎 Kat and Lord Blackthorn (Emrys) are plunged into a realm of ancient tomes concealing monstrous horrors, sinister fiends who manipulate nightmares, and ruthless men bent on seeing them burn..

📚 What sets TOAMH apart is its haunting beauty of its descriptions. Jenifer skillfully uses language to evoke a sense of dark beauty, drawing readers into a world where every shadow and flicker of candlelight carries weight and meaning.

🤎 The emotional depth of the characters is amazing. I loved William & Alma, combined with the atmospheric setting - creates a reading journey everyone who loves Gothic Romantasy.. needs to experience!

📖 In the spirit of "Jane Eyre," the novel grapples with themes of autonomy, morality, and the struggle for self-identity. Katherine's journey is not just one of romantic discovery, but also of personal empowerment, as she navigates a labyrinth of societal expectations and personal demons being Fey and being from the Institute of Magic.

🖤 TOAMH is a testament to the allure of Gothic romance. It is a beautifully crafted, emotionally resonant tale that will appeal to fans of classic literature and modern romantasy alike.

🕯️ Whether you're drawn in by the promise of a haunting love story, Blackthorn Manor or the richly textured Gothic vibes, this book is sure to enchant and captivate you from the very first page to the last.. mark my words!

We need book No2!!!

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I have NO words for how absolutely good this book is! It is the perfect blend of gothic and dark academia fantasy!
It has a perfect eerily dangerous and exciting world, full of with dark magic, bargains and monsters! Wow. I absolutely loved it!
IT had so many small details that made it perfect: a mystery to uncover, academia, close proximity of the main characters, slow burn romance and a very forbidden one!

If you like brave and stubborn characters, who care for each other's and tend to each other's wounds, you found your perfect book!

I was immediately transported into a Jane Eyre like world, the writing was gorgeously descriptive and flow-y. I loved how the plot evolved and I am thrilled to see what the other books of this trilogy has to offer! SO EXCITED!

Thank you so much for the publisher and Netgalley for the eArc! My opinion is my own.

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THIS BOOK RIGHT HERE MIGHT BE ONE OF MY FAV ROMANTSY BOOK OF ALL TIME. i devoured it. It was so good. Kat is everything i want in a FMC. Also lord blackthorne is so hot omg. Their intractions had me giggling and kicking my feet. Also the plot and storyline was so good. The ending had me in a chokehold. Can't wait for book 2.
Thank you netgalley, Jennifer Delaney and Gollancz for the E-arc.

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Rating: 5 stars

Tales of a Monstrous Heart is a slow-burn gothic romantasy inspired by Jane Eyre and drenched with forbidden love and endless yearning. This book was one of my most anticipated 2024 releases and it far exceeded my expectations. Tales of a Monstrous Heart is the first book in a trilogy by @jenniferdelaneyauthor and the fact that this is a debut makes it all the more impressive. The fact that I couldn’t immediately devour any further books by Jennifer after finishing Tales was criminal.

If you take just ONE recommendation from me, let it be this one. This book has bewitched me, consumed me, ruined me for any other. Tales of a Monstrous Heart is officially my most highlighted book, and I had an absolute blast reading it. The tension, the banter, the love, the AUDACITY! Words truly cannot begin to describe the rollercoaster of emotions I felt while reading this book (but I’ll try my best).

If, like me, you love fierce and feral FMCs (with swords), I am honoured to point you in the direction of Katherine Woodrow. Kat is a Fey attempting to graduate from the Institute of Magic and needs to secure a Mage Partnership. However, she is faced with prejudice everywhere she turns, particularly from the Institute’s council, who will seemingly do anything in their power to prevent her from succeeding. Against her better judgement, Kat is forced to accept a Partnership with the elusive Lord Blackthorn as a last resort. Chaos ensues. Kat is the manifestation of everything I love in a character - brave in the face of adversity, loyal, intelligent, and maybe a little unhinged. The way her character developed throughout the book left me in tatters. Watching her deal with her trauma and internalised resentment of her Fey heritage broke my heart and I’m so ready to be battered all over again in book two.

Lord Emrys Blackthorn. My, my, my. I must admit that a good 75% of my highlights are his TANTALISING, LYRICAL, SEXY interactions with Kat. I was hanging onto his every word; Kat, I get it girl. Emrys is mysterious, secretive, brooding, scarred, WET AND HALF DRESSED (IYKYK) (HE’S SO HOT), and yet he’s also thoughtful, loving, compassionate, and willing to sacrifice anything for those he cares for. The thing I adored most about Emrys (and there are many things I do adore about him) was his immediate and unfaltering acceptance of Kat, despite her stubbornness, her heritage, and the chaos that comes with her as a package deal. AND he gives her a nickname with left me permanently swooning. I have SO many questions, more than I began with, and I’m very excited to continue to thirst over him in book two

Tales of a Monstrous Heart’s best kept secret is the SIDE CHARACTERS! I could read a book about every single one of them. Alma, William, Thean, you ALL have my heart. I don’t want to say too much about them because they were a very pleasant surprise, and I’d love for everyone to experience it, BUT I will say that the friendships in this book truly healed a part of me. I have so much love for these characters and I’m excited to see new readers fall in love with them as I did.

The pacing and plot progression in this book was truly fantastic; I was captivated from beginning to end. Readers are immediately thrown into the deep end, beginning Tales in a forbidden library of dark and dangerous texts, and ending Tales with their hearts wrenched from their chests, questioning everything, and yearning for more. I seriously cannot express how much I adored this book. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to read this wonderful book early, BUT I am nothing if not impatient and the wait for book two will truly be torturous. I am very excited to reread this book alongside everyone else when it releases in August.

Thank you so much to the publisher for the eARC, and for putting up with my endless raving.

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My gothic literature loving heart was squealing with delight the whole way through this beautiful and atmospheric book. Set against a dark academia backdrop, the story follows the brave, strong and fierce main woman Kat, as she partners up with the dark and brooding Lord Blackthorn to unravel the mystery of fey disappearances and the rise of dark magic across the land.

It felt like such a breath of fresh air in a time where romantasy books has had a tendency to become one similar story after another. The world, the history and the magic system all felt very unique. The main and side characters are all so well written, their backstories heart wrenching, and it’s found family at its finest!

The slow burn is slow, but oh so worth it, for that build up of tension and desire between Kat and Emrys. Actual butterflies!

And that ending. Is it too early to request book two?!?

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I loved this book, it was the perfect slow-burn gothic romantasy.
I enjoyed escaping to this dark, gothic world full of rich history, magic, a sentient sassy manor, intriguing mythical creatures, adorable side characters, and…the mysterious Lord Emrys Blackthorn.....mmm, a perfect blend of Mr Rochester and Mr Darcy in one swoon-worthy character

The writing and plot progression are done well, immediately drawing readers into the action from the very first chapter and maintaining this engaging momentum throughout. I felt constantly on edge, eager to unravel both the main storyline and the slow-burn romance.

I am grateful to have read this early but I am gagging for book 2. I can’t wait to get my finished copy so i can reread and tab all my favourite bits.

I would recommend this to any and everyone!

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review to follow <Spoiler>i need time to process this! 😭</Spoiler>
** update **
OK so,

A gothic <i>Jane Eyre</i>-inspired romantasy? I am absolutely in! And this book absolutely did not disappoint me.

I fell in love with the characters, and especially the house! The dark academia and gothic vibes this whole setting gave me were perfect. The wider picture was so tragic and heartbreaking, I loved the breathing room and safety that Blackthorn Manor provides - a little haven in this brutal world that Jennifer created.

The dynamic between our two main characters gave me some <I>Howl's Moving Castle</i> vibes (which I happen to be reading at the moment as well). I <b>loved</b> this dynamic so much - and the brooding and back-and-forth 'are they good, or are they not?' sense that I took from it. I would do anything for Emrys, as that kind of brooding seems to be right up my street, haha!

Regards to the mystery that is also unfolding, it kept me on my toes and I got totally wrapped up in it. I adored all the lore that was also built into this, and how it was fed to us didn't make the book feel stuffy/heavy compared to some fantasy and how they deliver all the history you need to know. It was perfectly done.

Verging into spoiler territory now, so stop reading if you don't want any thoughts on the ending... I absolutely needed time to process it before writing my review.

<spoiler>I came close to throwing my kindle. I had to swap around pages a few times. How was that it? That last line! I had to exclaim and read it back to my partner. I love my heart being ripped out, but it so so sudden! </spoiler>

I loved it. I need more. Do we get more? I really hope so. I need to meet these characters again.

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I absolutely loved this book. It was so well written and such a great story. It captivated my attention so quickly that I found it hard to put it down. If I could have read it continuously I would have! This has been one of my favourite books I’ve read this year by far!
The world building was phenomenal and so descriptive that I felt like I could see what was being described to me. The plot was amazing and I loved all the twists and turns.
I loved that at points you’re trying to guess what’s happening.
The characters are beautifully written and had such good depth and background to them.
The story follows Katherine Woodrow, a Fae student at the institute of Magic. Kat is only a student there because of the treaty. Kat suffers daily abuse and prejudices from both the students, teachers, the Magic Council and the mortal who now run the world. Kat has a secret she is a Kysillian Fae and shouldn’t exist in today’s world. After a disastrous event in which Kat has to fight a dangerous demon she ends up in trouble. From here she is desperate to get a partnership and luckily she gets just that with Lord Emry’s Blackthorn. Emry’s is an elusive, secretive, brooding and captivating character and he is so well written. From here things start to unfold and the pair find themselves deep in discovering dark secrets and acts which shouldn’t be possible. The romance is truly a slow burn and I loved every minute of it. Both have pasts and both are damaged in a way but they fit perfectly.
I loved Alma’s strength of character and her friendship with Katherine. I love how they both look out for each other and that no matter what they help each other. I loved William too and he comes across so sweet which was perfect when there are so many strong, dominant and not so nice characters

That ending wrapped a lot up but I’m also still thinking about it! I want to know where it’s going already. I already need the second book!
This was such an amazing debut Novel from this author and i can’t wait to see what’s coming next from her!!

Thank you to the Publisher, Author and Netgalley for an eARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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𝔗𝔞𝔩𝔢𝔰 𝔬𝔣 𝔞 𝔐𝔬𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔲𝔰 ℌ𝔢𝔞𝔯𝔱
- 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘣𝘪𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘯 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦
- 𝘚𝘭𝘰𝘸 𝘣𝘶𝘳𝘯
- 𝘍𝘦𝘺
- 𝘋𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘴
- 𝘔𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘤
- 𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘱

I'm annoyed I wasn't off work to read this all in one sitting but I also wanted to drag it out forever.

I honestly can't articulate how good this book is. I could cry at how content I feel from this book. Tales of a Monstrous Heart is a slow burn Gothic Fantasy with Jane Eyre vibes with forbidden love, yearning and beautiful friendships.

Kat is our strong, independent and smart fey FMC who has to face prejudice and trauma. Trying to graduate and become a mage, which brings her into a partnership with Lord Blackthorn. Emrys is mysterious and holds his cards close to his chest.

Seeing their bond blossom through sharing knowledge, loyalty and acceptance, was just... ugh, I wish I could forget it all to read it for the first time all over again.

Jennifer's development of and attention to side characters is second to none. If they each had a book dedicated to them, I would absolutely not be mad about it and I would EAT IT UP.

Tales has very quickly became a top read of 2024 and a book I will reread over and over and over. I will be forever grateful to Jennifer for gracing my life with this book and Gollancz for graciously providing me with an eARC 🥹

The only negative I can take from it all is that Jennifer has no other work in the world right and that in itself is criminal. I will legit be following her work forever 🫶🏻

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I really enjoyed this fantasy isn’t really my thing but this was so good,
I adored how everything was described the imagination was perfect everything was so beautifully written I could picture it
I loved the characters and the slow burn as 🔥🔥
Definitely one of my favourite books of 2024

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What is this absolute 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒄𝒉𝒄𝒓𝒂𝒇𝒕! Good lord, this book was just exquisite!! Hauntingly written in places, just an absolute gothic masterpiece of a debut novel. I got pure howls moving castle vibes with Emrys, William and the magical house and I just ate that up!!

This story was so complex, so deep with so many hidden meanings behind every word I don’t actually think I can describe this book well enough. It gave me all the feels, heartbreak, anticipation, sadness, torment, love, fluffiness and even had goosebumps breaking out on me! I just have to say if you love dark gothic romantasy with a twinge of horror you MUST read this book!!

The story follows Katherine a fey who wants to graduate from the institute of magic but finds herself in hot water from the prejudice from the mortal
Council (I hate them) and is forced to accept a mage partnership with lord Blackthorn. This is where the drama really happens.

Que girly squeal, Emrys Blackthorn is dark, scarred and tortured and that man is hiding some secrets in there that were a pleasure to unravel. His character was so present, every time he entered a scene I was holding my breath. I LOVE him! I especially love the descriptions of him and the wet shirts, AHMM excuse me! And the tension between them both was to die for, the forbidden longing - exquisite and had me literally curling my toes in anticipation!

So much happens in the book, the plot is fast paced and keep you guessing, I was hooked from the first couple of chapters and boy does it ramp up from half way through again! There was so much deep history between the verr, fey and mortals is sprinkled throughout and I feel like we have only just touched the surface.

Katherine’s was an epic FMC and I just loved seeing her development. Her dark and tortured past nearly had me in tears, and watching her trying to over come her fear, learn to accept herself, accept her past and find her power was enlightening and inspirational! She is kickass. I LOVE her so much.

Then there are the side characters, each of them so deserving of spotlight. Little William our apprentice and his banter, then theres Alma, alma and Katherine’s friendship was perfection, I want a shape shifting best friend! And I can’t forget Thean either, I loved their sassyness!

The ending… talk about cinematic chuck everything at you and watch the chaos erupt… I think I’m still processing that ending and that cliffhanger! Holy moly… there are no words! I need book 2!

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Wow! What a debut! This book was nothing short of fantastic. It’s a delightful mix of gothic academia and slow burn romance that will have you squealing. It’s a well paced book, written in first person, with decent sized chapters and wonderful writing.

The world was in depth enough to require some explanation here and there though out the book (which the author did brilliantly) but not too extensive to the point where you’re getting lost. Blackthorn Manor is almost a character itself, the ever changing rooms keep both you and Kat on her feet!

The main characters were wonderful. Kat is a powerhouse, incredibly witty, intelligent and brave but humble enough that us non-magical beings can relate to her grief and sadness with so much depth. My heart was literally hurting for her!!! Emrys Blackthorn is an incredible character who I don’t think I could ever get enough of. He’s mysterious, bold, and protective but also extremely kind to those who he deems worthy - the perfect mix for this kind of book. The side characters of William and Alma were beautifully written and excellent additions to the book. They made a wonderful balance between the main characters and really emphasised how its the family you choose that will get you through the bad times.

The plot took me by surprise SO many times! It followed the pacing of the book incredibly, and it really felt like we were learning all of this stuff along side Kat and Emrys as they were learning it. There were also a few twists and turns that had me…not ok. The writing was beautiful and the author always explained complex world concepts with ease for the reader to understand. I loved the focus on knowledge, not just when Kat was in the institute, but also once she was out in the world and discovering things. We love strong women in academia!!!!

This book felt like a love letter to gothic fantasies everywhere. If you like gothic academia vibes with a slow burn romance to die for, then this book is for you! I love seeing female authors succeed, and Delaney smashed it out of the park with this one.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the eBook arc for this novel, I am eternally grateful.

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