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review 2016-05-30 01:46
Mysteries And Conspiracies in the Heartless City of London
The Heartless City - Andrea Berthot

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



London has been in quarantine for 13 years thanks to the Hydes, monstrous-like heart-eating beings that shift from ordinary infected humans who have taken the Hyde drug. Elliot, the son of the physician looking for a cure, who in the search for a weapon against the Hydes accidentally made himself an empath, and Iris, a strange American girl who has no fear, aim to discover the secret of the Hyde drug and uncover the conspiracy around it that could lead all the way to the top through Elliot’s best friend Cambrien – the son of the Lord Mayor of London, who will do anything to stay in power.



Elliot and his eventual Scooby Gang try to discover the awful secrets hidden in this alternate London while still living their lives – enjoying contraband, going to music halls, official dinners to please the Lord Mayor, a brutish and terrifying figure. Now that I take a step back and think about it, it’s not a plot-driven novel. It’s very character driven, and very emotional. Elliot is grieving over the death of his mother, his changed relationship with his father, his new power that he doesn’t want and can’t control, and the guilt of being responsible for a friend’s death.



I mentioned there’s a Scooby Gang! I don’t know what else to call it. There’s this ‘team’ that forms of teen friendships, led by Cambrien, the Lord Mayor’s son. His best friend Elliot is involved, Iris is brought in, and they are joined by Philomena, a fiery debutante-to-be, and Andrew, the brother of the boy Elliot feels guilty over. I love this gang. I love them hanging out, enjoying the contraband, I love their love for each other, I love their secrets and different relationships to each other. It’s so cool to see an actual gang of friends in an alternate-history-paranormal book. Another character to be aware of is the scarily efficient Lord Mayor of London, who is an awful person and an even worse father to Cambrien. I would be genuinely afraid to meet this man.



So this isn’t exactly a retelling of Dr Jekyll and My Hyde, it takes its inspiration from it and twists it into something entirely new. I loved Berthot’s writing, she really managed to get to the heart of every single scene. I loved how the period setting affected the characters and how Elliot came to realise due to his emotions a lot of the propaganda young men are still taught today – that women don’t feel lust, for example. I loved how spot-on all of the emotions Elliot was feeling were described, especially those of other people whose motivation we might not yet have discovered. It definitely made the book re-readable. The whole thing was easily digestible – not exactly light and fluffy, because there are definitely trigger issues in there, but it flowed smoothly and was easy to follow. In fact, I pretty much guessed the big reveal pretty early on but there were enough twists to keep me guessing the results and fallout of other issues.



Spot on. I had to stop reading due to another review book being due but I was always eager to come back to this story while at the same time I tried to read it slower than usual because I didn’t want it to end. It felt high-stakes all the way through and the slower moments were a chance to catch my breath and reflect on what I’d learned and try to predict what might come next – which I often didn’t. I will mention the inevitable romance – it did seem, like most YA, a little on the fast side, but taking into account the fact that Elliot can feel what others feel and Iris can control what she feels, it’s understandable the two should fall in love with such intensity, and I didn’t have an issue with it at all.



I am completely and totally blown away by this book. I absolutely loved it. It’s not one that I would normally pick up looking at the (admittedly pretty, but dark) cover and (admittedly bland until you know what it’s referencing) title, but I am so so glad I did because I had a really great time reading it, falling in love with the characters and becoming invested in their story and outcomes. I am totally up for reading the second book, which from what I gather follows Philomena as she trots off to Manhattan to become a Broadway star.


Note: Andrea Berthot and I started mutually following each other after I started reading this book. I’m pretty sure I’m going to make her be my friend (my precious), but I don’t want anyone getting any ideas about me rating ‘my friend’s book’ 5 stars. It’s not being friends with Andrea that made me love her book: it’s the other way around.

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review 2016-03-16 07:24
The Heartless City
The Heartless City - Andrea Berthot

Two things up front:

1. I chose this book because of the cover

2. This is one of those books where you shouldn't read the whole blurb because it spoils most of what happens in the book (I really don't see why authors/publishers would do this!)


London, 1903. It has been quarantined for the last 13 years after a pill was given to its inhabitants that renders them monsters. Human on the outside, but with the ability to transform within moments into Hydes, which are basically zombies with a fixation for human hearts. It is to this London that Iris Faye is trying to go. But why ever would she want to enter a city like this?


I liked reading it, although it was completely different from what I expected. Do not expect a zombie novel, the biggest part of the book takes place at a palace which is (un)fortunately zombie free. I found the novel instead of being a suspense filled read it was more about characters deciding who they are in a world that wants to decide this for them. At least for the sidecharacters, who in my opinion made the story. Iris and Elliot are very typical heroes and their romance is quite insta-love which I didn't really appreciate.


I hope to see slightly more zombies/Hydes in the second novel :)


Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2015-10-03 18:00
The Heartless City
The Heartless City - Andrea Berthot

[I received a copy from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.]

First thing first: gorgeous cover is gorgeous.

I liked the characters in general. Elliot who was a good soul from the beginning, and had to understand that what he perceived as a "weakness" was in fact his greatest strength, all the more after he became an empath. Iris whose mind was open to knowledge and revelations, who accepted people as they were, whose emotions were strong and pure even though she always had to keep them hidden behind her mask.

And some of the secondary characters were pretty good, too. Cam, who couldn't be himself and whose soul was slowly being snuffed out by his father's desires and blows. I especially liked Philomena, who could so easily have been a snotty brat, yet turned out to be a strong person, aware that the life her parents had decided for her may actually kill her (married and pregnant at 15, when her body's still almost that of a child's), and making plans to have a life of her own instead.

The setting was interesting: a dark, dangerous, quarantined London, 13 years after Dr. Jekyll's drug changed the face of the city by filling it with monsters derived from the original Mr. Hyde. Only men can be infected (the drug always kills women immediately), and they never know when they're going to change and rip some poor sod's heart. Either people go out with guns and machetes, or they'd better run very, very fast. And the poorer people, of course, don't have any choice in the matter, as they can't shelter themselves in some mansion or palace, living off what's left of past fortunes.

The depiction of society here, of what people believed and considered as "proper", was partly revolting, yet at the same time extremely fitting, in a "people reverted to even older Victorian values" ways. Relationships considered as unnatural. The upper class viewing the working class as faulty and even "deserving" of being killed by Hydes. The budding suffragettes movement crushed because there was no royalty nor parliament left to bring those ideas to. Women being victims in many ways (subverted in that those potential victims were also sturdy pioneers: Virginia, Iris, Philomena, Lady Cullum). Preaching the greatest values, while practicing hypocrisy on a daily basis. This was quite close to the dichotomy I've always found fascinating in Victorian mores, full of nobility, but also straying due to associating poverty with vice and laziness, for instance.

The romance: closer to the insta-love type (Iris and Elliot), but bearable. Elliot could fill emotions, after all, so obviously the attraction couldn't just be physical only: it had to be everything at once on his part. Iris's side of the romance may have evolved too fast, though. I don't know. As for Cam... that was beautiful. Sad, too. But beautiful.

Where the book was wanting for me was paradoxically in this setting as well, and in the plot itself: basically, I just wished for more. I would've liked to see more of those dark streets, more of the Hydes murdering people, so that what happened in the story would have had even more of an impact. Many plot points were also fairly predictable. It didn't bother me that much, because this was a case of "even though I know what's going to happen, I'm still excited and I'm thrilled when it does happen", but it could easily become a downfall: had I been in a different state of mind when I read the book, it may have dampened my experience.

I was also torn about a specific decision Iris made: incredibly dangerous and bordering on stupid, although at that moment she probably wouldn't have had many other options, and at least it allowed her to stay at the palace, something she had been meaning to do anyway.

Finally, I'm holding a grudge against the blurb, because it was misleading: I thought the characters would discover the plot's secrets together, but as it turned out, some of them knew a lot from the beginning—and at the same time, the blurb revealed a coupld ot things that, in my opinion, should've best been left for the reader to discover later.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed "The Heartless City", even though I keep thinking it could've been more than what it is. 3.5 stars for a pleasant read no matter what.

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